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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Chicks Week 2: Sticks and Sticky Butt

All the books warn you about how fast the chicks grow but nothing prepared me for the spurt from new arrivals to two weeks old.   Just looking to the picture link above, all taken within ten days of each other, gives you a good indication of how quickly time flies.

But growth wasn’t the only thing on their little minds over the last two weeks; they learned tricks, recognized our voices, learned about sticks and one suffered through Sticky Butt.  We humans also learned some important things like how to care for Sticky Butt and that you shouldn’t name your chicks too early, particularly if you are naming them with a play on their breed.

To start us off, JJ, whom we named as a play on her (assumed) breed of Jersey Giant turned out to be a Dominique.  Dom, whom we named--you guessed it--based on her (assumed) breed of Dominique is indeed the Jersey Giant.  We will keep their names as is since we have come to love them and JJ will always be a JJ:

JJ was the one who came down with Sticky Butt and for four days I scooped her up, took her to the bathroom and ran warm water over her rear until her vent (as they call it) was clear of poop and debris.  I guess chicks can be grateful as this treatment has only increased her desire for human contact.  Certainly the cleaning saved her life as a chick with Sticky Butt (and therefore no way to relieve herself) will quickly die.

Before I go any further, I have to give a giant shout out to Jenna Woginrich and her book Chick Days; Raising Chickens from Hatchlings to Laying Hens, which is a wonderful guide for new chicken owners.  If it wasn’t for this book, I would not have known to look for Sticky Butt and we would certainly have lost JJ within a few days of her arrival.

As for tricks, we started them with eating off our hands (a special organic treat of oats, grains and dried meal worms) and then quickly moved them to the Elevator Worm Ride:  If they climb on our hand, we pick them up and lift them out of the brooder box, holding them gently on our laps.  They then enjoy a private worm dining experience.   Dining alone is a treat everyone enjoys except for

Goldie Hen (the Golden Laced Wyandotte); she is too concerned with what everyone else is up to back in the brooder to eat.

It was during one of these days that, while petting Dom I felt a lump in her right chest.  I immediately did what any self-respecting new parent would do and Googled, “my chick has a tumor.”  Turns out I was far from alone. came to the rescue once again with a forum topic educating us new owners on the “full crop” issue which, thankfully, has nothing to do with tumors.  Apparently chickens put undigested food into their crop.  If they don’t get enough grit in their diet they have trouble moving the food through their system.  Our chicks have always had access to grit so I tried another suggestion; dipping Dom’s beak into some olive oil.  She did not like this at all.  Dom’s crop continues to be more full than the other chicks’ but she is eating well, her vent is clear and pooping regularly so I figure she is just a hoarder.  Dom:

Buffy (the Buff Orpington) continues to have the most elegant chicken body; well distributed and the best tail feathers so far.  She tries to be the bossy one, but Goldie Hen gives her a good run for her money.  Buffy:

I have no idea what to expect next week.  Alan built the lid just in time as JJ and Goldie Hen have both flown to the top of the brooder already.  This morning I found JJ resting on top of the food dispenser.  Clearly we will need a larger brooder soon.