Below are pictures of their weekly development. It is amazing how fast they grow.
|2 day old arrival of chicks, April 19th|
|chicks at 1 week|
By two weeks the paper towels are no longer necessary. I put a small storage tub in the crate to give them something to perch on and play a bit as they learn to jump and flap their little wings.
|chicks at 2 weeks|
|chicks at 3 weeks|
|chicks at 4 weeks|
|chicks at 5 weeks|
So during the day they are transported from my dog crate(s) to the outdoor pen (which is inside the main outdoor chicken pen), and at night they come inside the barn back into the dog crates. It is much easier to catch chickens if you wait till it is dark. They cannot see very well in the dark and it puts a lot less stress on them to be handled.
It is fun to watch how the chicks enjoy the freedom of being outside and how the older chickens nosey around their pen. Very cute is their fluttering around and the instinctual scratching and cleaning themselves in a dirt bath.
|chicks at 6 weeks|
Be available to observe this first interaction between the adult chickens and the young ones. There will be a scuffling as they meet and greet and establish the new pecking order. Be sure to have somewhere safe for the young ones to retreat to if they want. If you have any doubts as to the young ones' safety with aggressive older birds, then wait till they are older and of more equal size before mixing them. Some people say that the ideal way to blend the birds is to wait till dark and place the young chickens on the roost with the older birds. Then in the morning they will see each other in the light and being all is calm as usual, the older chickens will just assume they belong. A good post about adding new chickens to a flock is from The BackYard Chickens
By summer's end those cute little fuzzball chicks will be around 5 pounds and fully grown. By September they will be 18 weeks and we should begin to see the start of their laying eggs. It begins with little pullet eggs but soon they will be laying the beautiful large brown eggs expected with Rhode Island Reds. With the end of the season and its cooling temperatures and shorter daylight hours, the real egg laying won't start until the following spring. By then, these birds are mature, strong and offering their full potential. Between egg laying and manure for the garden, having your own chickens is worth all the initial work. For a much more detailed post about raising your own chickens, click here
|Enclosed chicken pen, Chick nursery coop is on the left|