So far, not the easiest start for these chicks. Yesterday I drove to Richland to pick them up (about three hours round trip). The feed & seed owner told me my brooder was too small; that they’d be too hot with the light, or more precisely, “You’ll fry ’em in an hour.” He said I’d be better off just starting them in the coop, and even there, that we should use a 60 watt incandescent rather than a heat light.

It was close to 8pm by the time I got home, and chilly. We got the coop set up, but it was clear from their behavior that they were too cold. Pushing and shoving and chirping, fighting for the spot directly under the light bulb. Those on the fringes were shivering. I hoped they were just chilled from the car ride, but they didn’t change their behavior after 40 minutes, so I switched out the light bulb for a heat bulb. Checked on the chicks 5 minutes later, and I’m not sure what happened, but the light was out, and the fixture wouldn’t even work with the previous bulb put back in.

I decided to just go ahead with the brooder before I froze the little things. Set them up inside, in the closet where Bunk couldn’t harass them, and used a vintage goose-neck lamp to shine two 60 watt bulbs on them. They huddled and fought again, but this time only for about half an hour, and then they seemed to finally warm up. They still hung out under the light, but more spread out, and they stopped chirping for the most part. I went to bed, but set alarms for every few hours. I kept hearing Chet’s “fry ’em” warning in my head. They never did end up moving away from the light, though, so apparently frying is not a threat.

I thought we were out of the woods, but this morning I got up and found one lying separate from the group, dead. I can’t figure out what went wrong for the little guy. No peck marks or anything. I guess it was just either the stress from the evening, or maybe the flock pushed him out, and he just got too cold. No one’s shown any aggression when I’m watching, though.

The rest of today has gone well. Everyone’s eating and drinking, and while they continue to hang out under the lights, they don’t seem cold. Seven of the ten came down with pasty butt, but I got them cleaned up and back with the flock. That part’s normal.

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Wow, are they cute. I still make them nervous when I open the door, but if I’m still they go back to their shenanagins quickly, and they’ll climb all over my hand if I offer them food. We haven’t named them yet (well, ok, except one); we were only able to get a straight run, so chances are about half will turn out to be boys and will need new homes. Chet said he could help with that part when the time comes. It’s hard not to get attached, though. They’re just so small and soft and sweet, and already, clear personalities are emerging. I’m smitten.

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