Flock I.D. Practices… and Ten New Chicks!

Peaches & Rose, the oldest members in an existing flock of 18. Each bird wears a brightly colored I.D. leg band so I can keep track of age, breed, color, sex, and where they originated from. Otherwise, alike breeds of same color can often look the same.
Each hen’s broodiness is recorded as well, because unfortunately not all hens are good Moms. It’s important to know which hens will not only be be loyal to their clutch of fertile eggs, but which ones can also be trusted to care for the chicks when they hatch.
As an example, these two hens are both broody on a regular basis, only the one on the right will stay on her eggs until they hatch. The bird on the left perhaps has good intentions, but gets bored with the idea of being a Mom and sometimes abandons the nest after a week or so.
Silkie Hens 111015

Knowing who’s who in an immediate situation means a quick and convenient solution. So I better get busy…  today there are 10 more birds to add to the chart!

New Babies!

Mille Fleurs 111415


Adding Chicks of Different Ages to the Brooder

Sometimes size matters in the brooder, but there are ways to avoid and resolve trouble. I added four new chicks to the brooder a week ago. Two blue and two silver laced six day old standard Cochins… and put them in the brooder with my three week old Silkie Bantams.

Age doesn’t matter much to baby chicks, size however, can be reason enough to start a bully fest. The six day old Cochins were the same size as the Silkies, but now, a week later, the Cochins are substantially bigger. The size issue seems to go unnoticed when chicks are  raised together, so they’ll continue to share the same brooder in harmony.

If new chicks refuse to get along, it’s easy enough to put a divider between the chicks, as long as they can see each other it will be pretty uneventful to reintroduce them in a week or so.

After the Brooder Stage

At two months these little fuzzy butts will be moved from the brooder to a transitional coop where they’ll be in full view of the existing flock. Around four or five months the coop door will open and they’ll have a choice to venture out and join the existing flock,  but they probably won’t for days, sometimes even a week!

Then What?
It’s reality time, and their peaceful world comes to a screeching halt when they’re finally brave enough to step out and explore the real world. A world that is run by powerful chicken rulers who have earned their significant positions in the pecking order.
Learn More about the Pecking Order and Adding Chickens to an Existing Flock

New Silkie Bantam Chicks

After our failed hatch, the hunt was on for quality Silkie chicks. I drove too far and paid too much, but that’s what happens on short notice. Why the rush? This is the last week to start chicks without a heat source. The coolest temps will drop to 90 during the night. Days are 105 on average, and with a mist system near the brooder the temperature is just about right.
The mission of having chicks was a success in spite of the failed hatch, and now I’m just happy to have the four little fluffy butts in my barn. I’ll try another hatch in October.

Silkie Bantams DOB 8-24-15

♥ Name a Chick and Put your Blog in the Spotlight! ♥

I’d like my readers to name the chicks, put your best names in the comment box! If your name is picked, I’ll write a post about your blog with a link sending a little traffic your way. 🙂  Best names will be chosen on Sept. 3rd.

Note: The chicks are straight-run (not sexed)

Best I.D. Leg Bands for Chickens

There are many reasons to I.D. your chickens and it’s easy if you use leg bands. There are many types, colors, and sizes appropriate for chicks, bantams and standard breeds. The hard part is finding who sells assortments, or has quantity options.
If this is your first time using leg bands, you’ll find my choices below quite simple to put on. However, I certainly wouldn’t refuse an extra set of hands to help!
Here’s the retailers I’ve found who offer the best selections of leg bands…

Silkie Bantam 3-10-15

1st Choice…
Stromberg’s is my favorite place for color assortments and varied quantities. The minimum quantity is 50. Buy what you’ll need the first time, the shipping is a little pricey.

Spiral Legs Bands   Numbered Plastic Bandettes

What Size Do You Need? | Guideline Chart for Leg Bands | Stromberg’s

Leg bands are perfect for tracking broody hens, keeping track of the ages of your birds, or if you have birds the same color that look identical.

2nd Choice…
Arcata Pet Supplies, you can order as many or as few as you like, (that’s a plus!) but they don’t offer color assortments and their styles are very limited.

Arcata Pet Supplies

Note:
To help give you an idea on sizing, TBN Ranch uses size 9 leg bands for our mature Silkie Bantams.

JumpingMcNuggetsgfd

Controlling Temperature in the Brooder

Understanding Behavior, Traditional Heat Lamps, and the Radiant Heat Alternative

One of the biggest concerns most people have is keeping the brooder at the proper temperature. You’ve probably read the norm… 95 degrees the first week, then lower the temperature by 5 degrees each week until the chicks are fully feathered. That’s the rule of thumb, and one I have always been faithful to. However…

I know heat lamps are a royal pain when trying to achieve a specific and consistent temperature. And radiant heat from today’s brooders probably have you wondering if they offer enough heat.  That’s why this season I decided to experiment, pitched the heat lamp and put my trust solely in radiant heat on my newly hatched chicks.

Yes, it seemed too cold in the brooder at night, certainly wasn’t 95, and that made me nervous. But I had a feeling radiant heat would prove better if I just stuck with it. Radiant heat seemed more natural, more like a mother hen, and that just had to be better than a clunky bright heat lamp dangling over their head.

Is Radiant Heat Better?

At one week old: The temperature in the brooder was 65, and the chicks weren’t huddled together trying to stay warm. They were playing, eating, and on and off congregating under the radiant heat brooder. No fuss, no worries, and no pasty butts, which is a common problem of chicks under stress during their first week of life.

I think chicks can take the cold a lot better than we think. I’ve seen hens take their chicks outside in 30 degree temperatures with no problem. So why do we need to stress over the perfect 95 degree law in the brooder? We don’t, plain and simple.

Here’s my Silkie Bantam chicks in perfect condition, raised using radiant heat in temperatures 25-30 degrees below the the recommended 95 degrees the first week. They’re five weeks old now and happy as can be.

 

The trick is to watch your chicks, they will tell you if they are uncomfortable. Too hot and they will be scattered far from the heat source. Too cold and they will huddle together in a corner for warmth.  It doesn’t matter what the temperature is or where you live, baby chicks all communicate the same.

Note: If I thought radiant heat wasn’t enough during very cold spells, I would use a heat lamp near the brooder rather than right over them. This will help warm the air around the brooder box just enough to still encourage use of the radiant heat brooder within.

It’s all about behavior… watch and they will teach you how much heat they need. It’s just amazing to watch those fuzzy butts, they’re a wealth of information…  watch them, and you’ll see for yourself!

Silke Bantams 10-30-14