The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Wet chicks

Chicks eating weeds
Our tractored chicks were having the time of their lives...until the thunderstorm hit.  Our chicken tractors have covered sections which kept our adult chickens quite happy through all four seasons, but chicks are another matter entirely.  Without real feathers, the little bit of rain that splashed under the covering was quickly chilling our baby flock, so they started piling on top of each other in distress.

I decided it was high time to step in and bring them back inside, so I scooped up damp chicks as fast as I could catch them.  "One, two, three," I counted as I plopped each one down in a tupperware container for transport.  "...Eleven, twelve, thirteen."

Thirteen?!  There were supposed to be fourteen chicks in this tractor!

Better thirteen living chicks than fourteen dead ones, I thought, rushing the youngsters inside to warm up in their brooder.  But what had happened to number fourteen?

Back I went into the pouring rain, first calling for the chick, then sitting quietly in hopes that I'd hear his anguished chirping.  Silence.  Did he get out of the tractor and snapped up by one of our cats in those three brief hours of pastured life?

Wet chicksI poked my hand in the tractor and noticed that the chick pileup had occurred right where two pieces of carpet came together.  Mark had simply overlapped the fabric by a few inches during construction since the overlap was plenty to keep adult chickens inside, but I was able to slide my hand right through the gap.  Maybe one chick had fallen out and was wandering in this downpour looking for shelter.

I got down on my hands and knees and looked in all directions.  And there, under the trailer, stood one damp little chick, too scared to cry.  Mark and I captured him in short order and brought him inside to join his siblings.  Soon fourteen chicks were fluffed back up, none the worse for wear.

One pastured poultry producer ran a side by side comparison of coops with pastures versus chicken tractors and found that chickens were healthier in the former.  I see his point now --- I wouldn't want to put chicks out in tractors permanently until they were at least a month old.  I guess we'll either be shoring up that coop or keeping the youngsters inside for a little longer.

Our chicken waterer has kept our chicks healthy despite highs in the 90s.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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They look so indignant when they're wet -- with these enormous nose-beaks and no fluff.
Comment by Heather Mon Sep 5 09:08:15 2011
They were actually kinda scared in that picture. It was a bit traumatic being lifted into container after container to go out into the tractor and then back inside (and the thunder really freaked them out.) Good thing this is our least skittish batch of chicks or I never would have been able to catch them all.
Comment by anna Mon Sep 5 15:11:48 2011

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