Back at the beginning of April our local feed store was having a customer appreciation promotion. If you bought a bag of Start and Grow, they gave you 10 baby chicks for free. Since we are such wonderful customers (read that: we give them all our monies every week), the owner let us get two bags of feed and therefore 20 free chicks! Since we were already very well stocked on egg laying hens, we decided to get a batch of "meat birds." These fast growing chickens are bred specifically to turn into little round butterball shaped chickens in a few short weeks.
Let me pause here to talk very quickly about picking out chicks. We have had very good luck with buying poultry from our feed store. They tend to be healthy, and we don't have to worry about paying for or waiting for the chicks to be shipped to us in the mail. (We have had bad experiences with mailed chicks in the past)
I like to hand pick which chicks come home with me. I look for the chicks who are actively eating or drinking. Looking up out of the box at the world is good too. A sickly chick will generally be hunkered down with one or both eyes shut so I never select a sleeping chick if I can help it. Once I pick out a chick in the brooder, I inspect it closely. Make sure both eyes are open and clean with no crusts around the edges. Check to make sure both feet are normal with the toes all pointing in the right direction (you'd be surprised!). Then I flip the chick over. First I check the umbilical area. Umbilical hernias and infections can happen in chickens believe it or not. Finally, I check the vent (a.k.a. the poop chute) to make sure it is clean and free of any indication of loose stool. Diarrhea in a bird so young and tiny can kill them quick!
Ok, back to the story....
Each chick got rubbed down under warm water in the bathroom sink then I used the hair dryer set on low to get them all dry and extra fluffy. Can't have these little ones catching a chill!
Rialey inspecting my handiwork.
"It's a chicken."
These pictures were taken several weeks ago. Stay tuned for pictures of how these cute little fluff balls are turning into meat monster chickens!