Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Chick Antics

Our new batch of chicks is now almost a week old, and we've been having a good time watching them.  It's much more entertaining than TV, and better acting, too.  There are seventeen of them, so there are always a few active ones, even if most of them are passed out with their beaks in the wood chips.  Of the seventeen, sixteen are red ranger broilers, which have down in various shades of yellow and red.  The other is a mystery chick, which has gray down, and is smaller than the rangers.  (The rationale, in case you're interested, is that the minimum order from McMurray was fifteen chicks, there was a discount price per chick at sixteen, and they throw in a free rare-breed chick if you like.  The idea is probably to encourage folks to keep the genetics of the rare breeds going, although our rare breed mystery chick is liable to be well-done long before it gets the chance to pass on its genes.  We just wanted to get the most potential meat for our buck.  Don't tell Murray!)

Here's all seventeen milling around.  At one week old, they are bite-size.  The brooder box is kind of like a dynamic game of Where's Waldo, except it's Where's the Gray One?  (Where's Gandalf?)  As a side note, the chips seem to be working well as a replacement for pine shavings.
The gray one is also faster than the rangers.  Yesterday, we dropped a worm into the brooder box, and the gray one picked it up and started running around, as chickens are wont to do when they have bitten off more than they can chew.  The idea is (apparently) that another chicken will try to catch whatever is sticking out of the first chicken's beak, which cuts the big bite into smaller bites.  The problem in this instance is that the gray one with the worm was too good at this game.  It was running around the box ducking and weaving in between the other chicks, hopping across the feeder, flapping and chirping and making a scene, but none of the other chicks could catch it!  They were trying, but it was like a tiny, feathered Barry Sanders cutting through the Cowboys defense in a Thanksgiving Day football game.  Eventually it realized no one was going to catch it and stopped to peck at the worm itself.  Sort of like a touchdown dance.

This picture is to show the contrast between the gray one and the rest of them.  The feeder is never this crowded--they must have decided they all wanted to be in the picture, but then not really since most of them turned away.  Where's Gandalf?  Oh, there he is, to the left, standing on one of the other chicks.  Any ideas what kind it might be?

Today, we also had a first: chicken farts.  We hadn't seen (or heard) it before, so we googled it.  Sure enough, it's a fairly common phenomenon.  As long as the chicks aren't showing other signs of distress (which ours aren't), it seems like it's not a problem if they learn to chirp from both ends.  (The link has plenty of entertaining anecdotes about other livestock with similar talents.)

As long as we're on the topic of chicken digestive health, we wanted to pass along a couple helpful links related to the subject:

The famous illustrated (photographed?) guide to chicken poop.  (Someone should probably organize those photos into a periodic table-type thing.  Who wouldn't hang one of those on their living room wall?)

Chicken digestive system explained.

Do you have any chickens with unique digestive skills?  Do you have any other favored links related to chicken digestion?  Tell us about them in the comments section below!

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