There is a reason we have a brooder full of baby chicks. There is a reason we had to make a few repairs to our chicken coop before I felt ready to order our baby chicks. The reason is our 1 year old German Sheppard. It is hard to believe that this adorable little puppy grew up to be a vicious chicken killer. She grew up watching the chickens. She would snuggle up
Around 4 weeks old our chicks started roosting on their feeder. This is just gross, because roosting chicks are pooping chicks. I had planned on building beautiful roosts for my precious baby birds. But real life gets in the way of ideals.
As I was writing a previous post one evening, when all the children were asleep, I heard the distressed screeches of a 4 week old chick. I raced down to the play area where the brooder sits and discovered a chick stuck in a small opening at the seam of the play pen/ brooder. My husband was right behind me and we discovered that many more of our flock of youngsters were hanging out between the draft protection and the actual "cage", unable to go any further. We quickly rescued these birds, but after a quick head count discovered that we were 4 chicks short. They couldn't have escaped through the tightly folded sheeting, they had to have jumped/ flown out of the top. We had caught one of the little ladies trying out her wings the day before when she flew up to the bar that holds the lamp but then hopped back down. So the search began. I discovered the first missing lass perched on a toy on the playroom bookcase.
When the chicks were about three weeks old we decided to take them outside for the first time (while I was busy scrubbing out the brooder). We have a small outdoor pen we had used for our dog when she was a puppy that I pulled out of storage to accommodate the chicks and keep them safe (although we soon learned they could squeeze out the bars). At first the girls crowded together, initially I thought they might be too chilly (despite the 80+ degree weather) since they were huddled together so tightly, but after a few minutes they slowly started to poke around.
I am sure you have noticed a theme here; the baby chicks are awesome, wonderful little ladies full of cuteness and adventure. However they are messy. Keeping on top of the mess is the only way to make this little experiment pleasant possible.