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Update on our chicks and ducklings – 3-6 wks old

We are currently raising 23 chicks and 8 ducklings.

The first few weeks was exhausting having so many littles in the house in three different areas. Having to clean each area very often was emotionally taxing. The stink… Oh the stink was awful. Ducks are the worst! But I love them.

We finally finished building what we call the “brooder house”. It’s another hoop coop, just like our current adult coop, but it’s smaller and separated so the babies aren’t being bothered by the adults. We just sunk two 4×4 posts to serve as the gate for the fenced-in area specific to this brooder. They will have their own protected run, covered in shade cloth, too.

In southern Nevada, nestled in the Pahrump Valley just outside of Las Vegas we see temperatures ranging from freezing to about 80 degrees, or so we have this past two weeks. We’re back to near freezing in the morning and 60 as the daytime high. All this discussion to describe that even though it’s near freeing each night, our baby chicks (only 3 weeks old and barely feathered) are handling the temperatures just fine. We have a large heat lamp and a brooder plate for them, plus a smaller 75 watt heat lamp for the ducklings, if they decide they need it. We’ve had no sicknesses, no deaths, or other issues resulting from low temps. The wind we’ve had the past two weeks has been awful. Thankfully dad helped me cut a sheet of plywood to fit around the door of the brooder coop to block the wind. We are manually taking it off each morning, hauling it a short distance and propping it up to provide a shaded area for the chickens in Group 1 (below) protection since they are out with the adults in the main yard (and coop at night). They were attacking the tiny babies when we tried to integrate them together. Nope. Screw that. They’re now part of the adult flock. So, on to the babies!

Group 1 – Two Buff Orpingtons, two Easter Eggers, one Magpie duckling, one Dark Campbell duckling. They are 6 weeks old. As of today I believe the Magpie is a girl, she’s quacking. I believe the Dark Campbell is a drake, he’s losing his peep but not quacking, what little is coming out is lower and raspy, but not quite a noticeable raspy drake voice. Both Orpingtons have full tails and look very similar. I’ll bet they are both pullets. The Easter Eggers, one appears to be a pullet, the other one without a tail is fully feathered otherwise, so I assume that one’s a cockerel.

Group 2 – 6 Magpie ducklings: They are 4 weeks old today. Unfortunately I think we have more drakes than hens. Time will tell.

Group 3 – 11 of our own eggs hatched + 2 Polish + 6 eBay eggs: Our third group include two ages of baby chicks. They range between 2.5 and 3.5 weeks old. The first set are 9 hatchlings from our own eggs. They are a mix of either our current Barred Rock rooster or our previous Black Australorp roo with our Sapphire Gem hens (which are Blue Andalusian x Barred Rock). We then picked up two Polish chicks a couple of days later. Then a week later our last set of chicks hatched. These are all mixed breed (potentially some purebreed) chickens from a small hobby farm in Washington. In total we only hatched 6 eggs from her (many didn’t develop and quite a few were smashed during shipment), and two more from our own eggs.

The tiny chicks appear to all have feathery legs down to their feet. I doubt they will be super feathery like Silkies but they have a solid line down to the end of a toe. It’s adorable. The person who sold us the hatching eggs says she has the following breeds: Westfalische Totleger from Greenfire farms, Blue Marans, Midnight Marans, White Leghorn x Marans, Green Starlight, Ayam Cemani, several colors of Bantam Cochin, and Silkies. None of our hatched chicks have five toes. One may be an Ayam Cemani purebred or mix. No matter what they turn out to be they are all adorable. I’m very curious about the tan/yellowy tiny chick that has the interesting “band” along it’s feathers.

Our Next Goals

We will sink two metal T-Posts along where the new fence will be, attach the fencing to the 4x4s and finish off the little fenced area for the brooder house. We will also build a gate, attach the gate hardware (hinges, latch, and handles), and attach shade cloth to create areas of shade for the adults, as well as the ones in the brooder yard. We are keeping the 4×4 posts sticking out of the ground about 6 feet tall so that we can attach the shade cloth to the top of the post, as a kind of permanent shady structure. We’re note quite 6 feet tall, so we should be able to walk under it without issue.

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