The chicks are here! A few days ago, we picked up some super-cute chicks and we didn’t even need any good pick-up lines. We brought them back to the crib…literally. No need to go buy some fancy shmancy brooding thingy — we are using our old port-a-crib for pen.
So, here’s how I set it all up. I opened up the port-a-crib and put the mattress in it as usual. On one end of the mattress, I placed a heating pad and turned it on high, which is not hot…trust me (but test your own first before doing this just to be sure). Then, on top of that, I put down a couple of large absorbent pads (some people call them puppy pads). I could almost use just one, but it was about 5 inches too short on one side, so I put down a second one. On top of the pads, I put wood chips, which I already had on hand and even have some leaves and bits of sticks included (pretend like that’s a bonus, okay?). For the warmer area (where I put the heating pad) I placed a cardboard box (one that holds a case of copy paper), in which I made a long cutout where the chicks can come and go from. Finally, I filled up the feeder and water and put them in. I probably could’ve made my own feeder and waterer, but I splurged and bought them. But I did make my own warmer, which was essentially free because I already had the stuff on hand.
The chicks seemed to enjoy the pen right away. They softly chirp and explore. They also really like scratching around in the wood chips. After a few days, they figured out how to jump up on top of the warmer box, and we also put a wooden perch in there for them to try. It hasn’t taken long at all for them to figure out how to find the highest places in the pen — the box, the perch, the top of the feeder, the top rail of the port-a-crib…yikes! When we are home and able to supervise, we have the pen uncovered. Otherwise, we put a large piece of cardboard over the top to keep them from trying to perch on the rail or escape.
Now a little about the birds. We bought three different breeds of chicks — Buff Orpington, Silver Laced Wyandotte, and Black Australorp. These are some of what are known as dual purpose breeds, meaning they are good egg layers and also good meat birds. We are exploring the possibility of raising some of our own meat, so we’re going to see what we think of these breeds. There is a *slight* possibility that we will someday get a rooster so we can also breed our own chickens. We’ve had hens for several years now and have gotten pretty comfortable with them, so we feel like this is a good next step.
I would love to hear about your chickens — if you breed your own, raise for meat or eggs, what breeds you like, or if you’re new to all of this and thinking about getting your first chickens. Leave a comment below or send me an email!