Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Chicks' New Play-Yard

At 5 weeks old, the Cornish chicks are pretty well feathered out. I find that they aren't as smart or as quick as the layer type chicks, but they can be trained to do just about anything for food.

Bunched up at night to sleep.
When they arrived in the box all 100 fit into a 2' x 3' square, and the brooder felt enormous at 6'x12'. Soon they outgrew that, so we put the layer chicks (25 of them, plus 15 Cornish chicks a week younger) in the brooder. We gave the Cornish chicks full range of one wing of the barn, and they certainly love the space, except at night when they bunch up. 

But the whole purpose of raising our own meat chickens was to get healthier meat. So while I'm thrilled about the non-medicated feed my local grain supplier mixed up for us, we still wanted these little guys to get out, forage, and enjoy fresh air. This week they were finally feathered out enough, and the weather has been plenty warm for them, to enjoy getting out-doors in the daytime. 

So Ben built them a sweet pen off the wing of the barn, and we opened the "hog-door" the first morning with the feeders outside and waited for them to run out. 

No. Way. This was new and scary! They wouldn't go out, even though in the mornings they are "starving". So we set them out by hand, all 100 of them. That night we set them back in through the door as well. 

The second morning they knew the food was waiting outside and as soon as we opened the door, they rushed out. We only had to help about 30 out the door. That night about a third went in on their own, and we had 2/3 to put in by hand. 

The third day we were predicted to have record high heat, and we worried that the sun would be too much for them ( I can cool the barn with fans).  So we didn't want to put them out... but this time they rushed the barn door as we went in with feed and some escaped. They ran around the corner to their pen, trying to get through the fence to get in! They knew where the food should be. Silly birds. 

Today was cooler and they enjoyed going in and out of the barn from the hog door, enjoying the safety of their pen, and the comfort under the chokecherry tree. Now if only I could train them to all go in at night, like the laying hens do. Until then, I shall continue to tuck in my baby birds one at a time, by hand. :)


Here are a couple fun pictures of the new laying hens:

Rhode Island Red

a Dominique


  1. awesome. So ... with all this chicken... when do think you'll start having meat? Just curious... I might have to make a visit this summer. ;)

    1. lol, Sounds good. We should be ready for you to come help butcher in just a few weeks. ;)

  2. Thanks for linking up this week with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

    Chicks are SO entertaining!


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