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4 weeks in: questions regarding feeder, feed, and going outside for the first time! (and a funny sto

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by newchickenista, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. newchickenista

    newchickenista Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Southeastern, Oklahoma
    Hello all!

    My chicks are now 4 weeks old. In some ways it feels like it has flown by, and in other ways it feels like they are 4 years old, not weeks. I thought to offer a progress report and ask some questions. So they won't be missed I will try to mark the questions in a bold red font. Like this.

    I took pictures of them at two weeks, but got busy and wasn't able to post them and then I haven't had a chance to take new pics yet. I can post the 2 week old pics at the end of this but they are SO DIFFERENT now, you wouldn't even believe it. Well, you probably would, but as these are my first chickens every, I could not believe it. Maybe tonight I can take new pics and post them tomorrow.

    We had a little incident last Saturday. I had plans one evening after work so my sister went home to feed my chicks and all our other animals. When she got home, she checked the chicks, then went inside. An hour later she went out to feed the animals. She was feeding our dog when she looked across the yard and saw the door to the chicken brooder standing WIDE OPEN! She immediately took off in a run, jumped the dog pen fence, to get to the chicks. All the Rhode Island Reds (6) were still in the brooder but there were 2 (of 6) Barred Plymouth Rocks running around on the ground. She approached them slowly so she wouldn't scare them, caught them, and dumped them back in the brooder. She then decided to take a head count to make sure everyone was in their places. Each time she counted she counted 11 chicks. There are supposed to be 12. Our brooder sets right next to our deck. The deck sets about 2 feet off the ground, and it is all weeds, mud, and who knows what kind of critters, underneath. My sister immediately began to commando crawl underneath the deck in a desperate attempt to find my poor lost chicken. After a thorough investigation she came up empty handed. She then employed my mom, dad, and aunt to walk the perimeters of our property looking for this chick. After finding one lone black feather in the driveway (and a beagle with a suspicious look in its eye) everyone was sure the chicken was a gonner. If the beagle hadn't got it, one of the five cats-that-take-no-prisoners were bound to have. But she didn't give up, not my sister. As the sun started to set, she set on the deck, closed, her eyes, and listened intentely. After maybe 10 or 15 minutes of listening, she heard a solitary "Cheep Cheep!!!" come from the opposite direction of the brooder. She immediately got on her hands and knees, looked under the deck, and Eureka! There it was! All she had to do was speak sweetly to it and hold out her hand and it came eagerly. By the time I got home all chickens were accounted for, safely tucked in their brooder, and all I had was a funny "chicken in distress" story waiting for me. We have since secured the brooder door so hopefully this doesn't happen again!

    As I said, I have a dozen 4 week old chicks in a space about 3' x 4' (maybe a bit smaller). I already know that this is rapidly becoming too small (and probably has already become too small) We are building the chicken tractor as we speak (will make another post with chicken tractor progress and pictures). I am, currently, using a feeder and waterer that screw into mason jars. As of this morning the feeder is WAYY to small. They are crawling all over each other trying to eat. I didn't witness them drink this morning, but I'm sure if the feeder is too small the waterer is too. I am about to upgrade to a larger feeder, hopefully something that will fit in my brooder right now, and will transistion well into my coop (chicken tractor). What feeders do you guys use for full grown chickens? As I am making a chicken tractor, they will hopefully feed on bugs and grass and things ALOT, but I plan to provide supplementary feed in the hen house (hopefully) if not on the run floor.

    I am nearly all the way through a 40lb bag of chicken starter. I need to get some more feed if not today then tomorrow. How long do they need to eat only chicken starter? Or to put it a different way: what is the earliest they can graduate to a bigger chicken feed?

    Also, What treats do you begin to introduce at 4 weeks?

    I bought chick grit a week or two ago and have been combining it with their food in the feeder. I had started by putting a little bowl of it next to the food in the brooder but all they did is poop in it and turn it over, so I decided mixing it with the feed would be better. Is this right and ok? if not, what is the best way to incorporate grit? Also, when they are full grown and I need to incorporate grit and oyster shells what is the best way to do this? Should I mix it all with the feed? Should I sprinkle it on the ground and let them scratch at it? Or should I provide different bins or feeders for each individual thing?

    How early will they try to roost? I haven't notice them try to roost yet, but they also don't have much of anything to roost on. I am hoping to get them in their coop in the next week or two as the weather has been unseasonably warm here in Southern Oklahoma.

    I hope I haven't thoroughly bombarded everyone with questions. You all just offer such good advice that I feel like I need to ask at each stage!

    LAST QUESTION: How early will I begin to be able to tell their gender? How early do secondary sex characteristics kick in? I think I may actually have 3 RIR and 3 Production Reds rather than 6 RIR. I have 3 that have white on their wings and 3 that don't. Would this indicate a difference in a production red and a rir. If so, can you tell the sex of a production red based on coloring?

    I guess that was more like 4 questions. Sorry.

    Have a great day everyone!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] Remember, these pics were taken 2 weeks ago, when they were 2 weeks old!
     
  2. GoldDogsMom

    GoldDogsMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 10, 2011
    Indiana, PA
    I remember what it's like to have lots of questions starting out so I will try and answer your questions

    I use a galvanized feeder like this http://www.tractorsupply.com/harris-farms-hanging-feeder-for-15-30-birds-12-lb--2167133...but I didn't hang it, I have a board on top with a brick to hold it in place so they don't poop in their food!

    I do medicated for about 8 wks (or until my bag runs out) then switch to grower until about 6 mos when they are ready to start laying. I recently switched from layer crumbs to pellets and there is less waste.

    You could do meal worms or finely chopped fruits/veggies as treats, mine loved to chase each other around with treats!

    Don't think you need to start the grit now but give them a pan of coarse sand and they will bathe in it and eat it if they need...I started mine on grit when they were about 2 mos old and mixed it in with some scratch and scattered it on the ground for them. You will want to offer some sort of calcium supplement when they start laying like oyster shells which I also mix in with the scratch and some sunflower seeds for extra protein.

    My girls roost at dusk and by dark are ready to be closed up for the night.

    As far as sexing, people here witll help if you post pictures with their combs and backs showing!

    Did I get them all?

    Oh and VERY important that they have access to water so might want to check that out!

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/golddogsmoms-member-page
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
  3. newchickenista

    newchickenista Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 25, 2012
    Southeastern, Oklahoma
    Thanks for your help, but, here is my question now. My bag of starter crumbles ran out this morning. My chicks are 4 weeks and 2 days old, is it too early to start them on grower feed now?
     
  4. BirdyMe

    BirdyMe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Read the label on the bag. It might say something. Most of the time people switch chicks from Starter to Grower at 4-6 weeks. Feed them the Grower until they're about 18 weeks. :)
     
  5. newchickenista

    newchickenista Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 25, 2012
    Southeastern, Oklahoma
    Thank you guys so much for the info! I went to Orscheln on saturday and they had a chick starter/grower (which is what I was already feeding them, turns out) that was 18%, so I started them on that yesterday. After I had opened the bag and filled 2 5gallon buckets with it, I realized that I hadn't got medicated feed. My last 40lb bag was medicated. Is that bad that I am now no longer feeding them medicated? What do I do now to prevent disease? Is there something I can mix with the food?
     
  6. ButchGood

    ButchGood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 14, 2012
    Central Texas
    As for going outdoors and treats....Mine are 2 weeks old and started going outside this weekend. They are way happier now they got some sunshine and fresh air. I also got them some small meal worms and they went completly nuts for these things. 16 birds went through 50 mealies pretty quick. that was the treat for the day. As they scratch im sure they found there own little treats. The next day they went out agian. I was planting my veggie garden and every time I found a worm or grub, they got it. They go crazy for live protien. I let them stay out about 5 hours each day. At night when they were back in the brooder they were so content.
     
  7. GoldDogsMom

    GoldDogsMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Indiana, PA
    If you gave them medicated starter for the first 4 wks, they should be fine switching to non medicated grower. Like I said I usually go 8 wks but I know people who switch earlier...
     

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