We got 15 Ameraucana chicks 6 weeks ago. I went with Ameraucana because they are cold hardy, they lay colorful eggs and there is a good bit of variety in their feather coloring.
I ordered them from Cackle Hatchery. I read up on several hatcheries and decided on Cackle because they had good reviews and a lot of great care info on their website. I placed the order on a Saturday and the next Monday morning they shipped the birds from Missouri. They arrived on a Wednesday morning at the post office in Laramie. Chicks live off of the rest of their yolk the first 72 hours after hatching which is why they can hatch and ship the same day and survive until they arrive. The weather was not hot or cold departing or arriving so they fared well and once I got them home they were all eating and drinking in under 10 minutes. They have been growing like crazy ever since.
I had them in a box in our basement and after about 3 weeks I started carrying them outside during the day into a playpen that I set up. One day, our Golden Retriever got out and beelined to the chicken pen. All the chicks, except one, cowered in the corner and the one lone chick stuck its head out of one of the holes in the gate and Tucker promptly bit it off a moment before Tony tackled him.
It was very traumatic for our household….and we were left with 14 chicks.
Needless to say, Tucker wasn’t allowed near a door while the chicks were in that pen! A week or so later we had a cold snap and I didn’t want to put these 4 week old chicks outside in the chilly air but I didn’t want to leave them in the box inside all day either. Four week old chicks are a good size and that box was getting smaller by the day so we put them out in the coop with a heat lamp so they could at least stretch their wings and move around. They were so happy! We decided to leave them outside since the night temps wouldn’t be much lower than the day temps on that day. We gave them lots of extra straw and they seemed fine.
We kept them in the coop most of the first week since it was cool out. We also made a temporary roost out of cinder blocks and a 2×2. Then we added a ramp and started leaving the doggy door open for them. On their own, one by one, they started coming out of the coop to explore the pen. To a baby chick that pen is HUGE and probably a bit scary but we have a lot of little retreat areas around and they like to visit the goat side of the barn too.
They have now been outside/in the coop for about two weeks and they love it. They are just now 6 weeks old so we keep the heat lamp on at night because it’s in the 40s here. I’ll probably take that away soon though, their feathers are filling out nicely and I’ll need the lamp to put on the baby turkeys I have going out soon. They are learning to come in to go to bed when we put all the animals up in the evening. We counted them all as they went in the other day and there were 17.
We ordered 15.
One was decapitated.
Two weeks later we have 17.
So we counted again. And again. Counting chicks is hard. They move fast.
After both of us counting a few times we were sure we had 17. The hatchery sent us 18 to begin with but I NEVER COUNTED THEM! I don’t know how that ever could have happened but I didn’t. It’s common for a hatchery to include extras in case there are some dead on arrival but all survived and here we are! We are pretty happy about it, we wanted a good size flock.
We were also hoping for a rooster and we think we have one…
There are a couple of others that might be questionable but this one stands out the most right now. Hatcheries sex the chicks when they hatch but it’s only about 90% accurate so we expected one or two. If we have more than one rooster it will probably end up in the soup pot.
I never knew how happy it would make me to look out the window to the pen and see little chickens running around! I sure can’t wait for eggs!
We still need to install a permanent roost and nesting boxes. I also want to do some kind of drip water system instead of the water thing we use now. Other than that it’s pretty much done!