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feathering, kicking and other questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Billina, Aug 23, 2007.

  1. Billina

    Billina Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 23, 2007
    Hi, I am new! I have 3 chicks that are 2 1/2 weeks old. A Buff Orpington, an Americauna and a Silver Laced Wyandotte. The BO has patchy feathers that look a bit uncomfortable, but maybe I notice her more because she is the lightest in color. She also has a noticeable pinkish ridge already where her comb will be so now I am worrying that she is one of the 10%ers.

    When I let them out in a pen in the yard, they lay on their sides in the sun and lift their top wing as if to let the sun soothe those patchy areas. Then they roll over and do the other side. Now, they've started doing it in the cage under the light. Is this normal? Do they all look patchy or should I worry about some skin condition???

    Also, they've started kicking litter everywhere, but I think that's normal (and messy!).

    And finally, after reading a few posts, I am now worried about how noisy hens will be. I live in a suburban area and I am building their coop in the very back of the yard which is well over 40 feet from nearest neighbors, but I wasn't expecting noisy - I thought it was just roosters who were very noisy. Oh! the worries!!!

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    That kicking you see is them relaxing and dust bathing. It's perfectly normal. I don't think they are noisy but some say they are and in one case, they are because they got used to being let out and that became not an option. If you want to keep them in and quiet, don't let them free range, else they will taste freedom!
     
  3. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

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    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Hi Bellina - I have 4 Buff Orps that are two weeks old and they all have the little pink ridge of a comb. I also thought it was odd because none of my other varieties of chickens had these when they were that young - some still have no combs at 12 weeks old. But I'm guessing it must be the breed because all of the ones at the feed store had it too. They are the sweetest little chicks. Mine free range around the very large run when I put the big girls out and close the gate. They too take dirt baths and dig like little feet machines going 90 mph. The wing thing in sun is like taking a sun bath and getting warm. The patchy feathers is also normal - they are just now getting their big girl feathers when they were only downy soft before.

    So all in all - everything is as it should be. Regarding the free ranging don't start if you can't stick with it. My 2 week olds are already peeping at top of lungs non-stop when I put them back in their very large coop/pen. They pace back and forth in front of gate/door, sticking their heads out and carrying on like crazy. When I drop that door, they literally fly out and carry on like it's party time and never make a peep till I put them back in. The big girls will squawk and croak if I don't let them out each morning.

    However, I find letting my birds free range is so much easier and fun for me. I can just go out there and sit in my chair and watch the show. They'll follow me over the property and walk in the woods, they'll jump on my chair for a visit, they come running when they see me (not because they love me so much but because I have "treats").
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2007
  4. Billina

    Billina Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 23, 2007
    Thank you so much for the reassurance on my buff orp! It's funny because she started out just a bit smaller than the other two and I worried about her getting picked on, but now she is bigger than they are, though not a bully.
    I had thought that I would regularly let them run around the yard with supervision, but now I'm a little worried. My husband and I work full time jobs and they would mostly get out of their pen on weekends, but if they will holler up a storm Monday to Friday, I might need to re-think it. I think that their pen will be about 5' x 20' with shade and sun.
    On another note - I bought a cage that is about 1.5 ft. x 2.3 ft. when I got my chicks and it is in my spare bedroom. Now that they are getting bigger, I have added small branches to the cage so they can make use of the up and down space as well as side to side, but still - how long can I go on this way? How much bigger of a space will they need before they can move out to their hen house? Everywhere I look, I see different answers to how old they will be before moving out! I live in Southern California where it is very warm now, but will start to get chilly in the night. Some say 4 - 5 weeks, some say 8 weeks, some say when they get their feathers - any clues?
     
  5. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

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    Woodville, MS
    Hi Billina - yes you will get different answers on how old they can be before you can put them outside. Think of it this way, however, if the mother hen had hatched them they would be outside from day one. I put my 2 day old buffs outside in their pen from day one. It's nearly 100 degrees here with 100% humidity. Nights are also still hot so I don't use a heat lamp. At 1 week I started letting them out of their coop/pen (Chick-N-Hutch) and let them run around the big girl pen. They have a ball and demand to be let out constantly now.

    My previous two batches of babies were in April and May and I also put them on back deck in the pen but put a heat lamp in the pen that I turned on at night on the nights it got cold (40's). Daytime temps were sunny and 70s/80s. They also did very well and began free ranging very early.

    You'll have others tell you to keep them in a brooder for 8 weeks but come on, you'll miss all the fun of watching them be chicks and learning to run around and play and forage. They were designed to be almost totally self sufficient from day one and if they had been hatched naturally to a mother hen she would have them running around the farm yard from day one regardless of temps - most are hatched when it's still cold out. Of course she can get them under her wings for warmth but only does that the first 2 or 3 weeks anyway. I say if it's warm where you are - put the pen outside and put a lamp in it for nights when it turns cool.
     
  6. homecatmom

    homecatmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Hi Billina, I too live in So.Cal. and my 4 moved outside 2 days ago. I have 3 sides of their coop done and the roof. Their 12x4x6 run is done. They went to bed last evening as soon as it got dark and were up at 6:30 wanting breakfast. I don't know if it's too early for them to move out, but they are happy. Mine were born August 1.
     

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