My order of 26 chicks arrived Monday morning. Unfortunately, I had to be out of town for a funeral, but my wonderful wife stepped up and took care of them till I got back late Tuesday night. As of now we have 24 chicks who all seem to be doing well. They're a mix assortment of large breeds, so we don't exactly what is what, but it's fun trying to guess. A few questions: 1. How long to keep the bedding covered? I have pine chips for bedding, and it's covered with paper towels which get changed out twice a day. I read one source that said only do this for 48 hours, and another that says keep it covered for 2 weeks. They definitely like to pick at the pine chips and play rugby when someone gets a nice chip everyone else wants in their beak. The argument for keeping it covered is condition them to eating food- not bedding. The reason I read for removing the paper towels is to protect their feet. The towels are textured, so I don't think they are slippery. 2. When to supply grit? Again- different sources say different things. The instructions from the hatchery say start after 48 hours. The instructions on the bag of grit say start giving it to chicks at 2 weeks of age. 3. Can anyone shed some light on the two losses we had? #1 was acting strange from the moment my wife and son opened the mailing box. It never opened it's eyes, walked around with his head down, kept falling over and chirping loudly. My wife seperated it from the others and tried TLC with no effect. It pecked itself severely causing bleeding. Wife put vasoline on him to stop the pecking, but he kept going and eventually died. #2 seemed fairly normal for the 1st day, and then simply sat down, stopped eating or drinking, and eventually died. 4. Speaking of pecking- everything says to keep your chickens from pecking each other. I'm kind of confused on what qualifies as a peck- because they seem to be doing it all the time- although not causing any damage to each other that I can tell. The birds will get some feed or litter stuck to their back and somebody else takes it off- or looks like they are grooming the other bird. Also, they'll be running around or going to eat, and 2 birds end up in each other's face- "You looking at me?" They seem to say- and give a little peck. Again, it doesn't seem to cause any damage. To me it appears to be that they are establishing the pecking order in the flock. Is this normal, or do I need to stop this stuff? 5. Just general observations from a 1st time chicken owner. It's a lot of FUN. I could stand there and watch those chicks all day if I didn't have other things to do. Way more entertaining then TV. It's very interesting watching the differences in behavior between breeds and individual birds. Some sit down to sleep and look like the picture perfect bird sitting on its nest. Others simply flop down on their stomach, legs sticking out and look like they got run over by a truck. We've got 5 breeds and 1 special "exotic" 6 Yellow Chicks- A lot of different things these could be, hoping they are buff orpingtons or buff rocks. These have been obviously the biggest chicks from day 1, also the most aggressive in asserting themselves and telling other chicks to get out of their way. 6 organy/red chicks- could be New Hampshire Reds/RI Reds/or may Buff orpingtons or buff rock. These are very active birds as well. 2 solid gray chicks with white coming in on the wing feathers. I'm pretty certain these are White Jersey Giants. It's interesting that these two birds seem to hangout together most of the time. 5 black chicks with white patches on top of head, chest, bottom. Hoping these are barred rocks or australorps. These were smaller for the first couple days but seem to be catching up in size (all but one at least). Not as energetic or assertive as the yellow or red birds. Althougth one of these guys is the most interested in getting out of the brooder and has been plotting his escape. Both dead chicks were black. The one black that is still smaller, has me concerned sometimes. He appears to be doing better and eating/drinking. But he frequently is sleeping even if nobody else is. Since he hasn't died and doesn't appear to get worse, we're not sure if he's small/weak or sleepy/lazy. 4 brown/grey/white stripped birds. These are the smallest, but fairly active and all doing well. They look to either be speckled sussex or dark cornish. 1 "rare exotic". He's as big as anybody else now. Gray with a thick black stripe down the center of his back from head to rear. Very energetic, doesn't take any BS from the yellow "bullies". And I have no idea what he is. Everything that he kind of sorta maybe looks like has feathered feet, and his feet are clean. Here's hoping everybody keeps doing well, and we get to figure out what everyone is.