There are a lot of adventures to be had when you're a baby chicken. Brooder box cleaning day could just be your chance to get out and see the real world. How do you transport six lively chicks from their brooder box to a grassy playpen? Stuff 'em in a bucket! The real trick is to keep them confined enough that they can't flap their wings. Flapping = escape.
The chicks are now about five and six weeks old. Can you believe how big they are? This weekend was their first real taste of the outdoor life. It was cloudy and breezy, but they toughed it out. We've created a little "playpen" area for them to explore in. It's got grass, weeds, flowers, and lots of dirt to scratch in.
Look at little Dark Meat! (We seriously need a better name for her and her sister, so don't hesitate to offer suggestions.) Still the smallest, Dark Meat is getting less shy and more bold with each passing day. Her feathering is beautiful.
You can really see the big girl feathers filling in on Light Meat's chest. She's nearly doubled in size just in the last week.
One of the two nameless Sussex discovered the roosting pole right around the same time Winnie saw it. They hung out there for a good long while. Roosting has become one of the favorite things to do lately. I've got a small dowel rod in their brooder box, but it's getting so much use that it may break any day now! It really wasn't meant for such chunky babies.
Winnie is queen of the roost. Don't even try to push her off.
Exploring is fun, but we like to stick together. When the wind blows, we puff up our feathers to stay warm. Huddling is an instinctual behavior in baby chicks. There's strength in numbers, you know. Even adult chickens prefer to be in a group, which is why they're always seen as a flock. If you take your young chicks out for some sunshine and grass, watch for this feather ruffling business. It's a sign that they're cold and may need to go back in their warm brooder box. We try to limit their outside time to 20 and 30 minute episodes.
Just like that first bunch of weeds we tossed into their brooder box, being outside is new and a little intimidating. They mostly huddled and explored a very small area, but they'll learn to run and flap soon enough.
Springtime may be chilly, but Dark Meat's feathers and fluff are downy soft! She sat with me for a few minutes to shelter from the wind. Everyone went back in the bucket and home to a clean brooder box at the end of a great adventure.