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We are new chicken (and duck) owners and watching them change so much just in the last month alone has been so fun! Here is what you need to know about raising chicks week by week.
It’s crazy how quickly they grow and change week by week. The first week was all about cuddles and cuteness and by week two, the work really settles in.
They become messier, more curious and grow bigger by the week (and by the day for the duck!).
We were in a panic pretty quickly since our coop wasn’t quite ready and they were all outgrowing the brooder. Thankfully, they were able to start enjoying outside time within a few weeks.
Raising Chicks Week 2-3
These weeks were really different than the first. Right before my eyes the chicks were already trying to escape the brooder! We ended up having to add some chicken wire on top to keep them from getting out.
Their feathers were starting to grow more and more and it seemed like they doubled in size. They were eating an entire 32 ounce mason jar of chicken feed and water every day (for eight poultry). Their brooder also became messier and harder to keep clean. I found myself cleaning it daily.
Transitioning Chickens Outside
By this time they are ready to transition outside. Since it was summertime, we had no problem trying it out. If anything, they actually have a harder time with the heat than when it is a little bit colder.
Thankfully, we had some baby gates (playpen style) stored in the garage that we hadn’t gotten rid of yet. We used this to create an enclosed outside area for the chicks and duck to start acclimating to the outside world.
We started putting them out there a few hours a day and eventually kept them outside all day, bringing them inside only at night to sleep in their brooder.
The Chicken Coop
Had I known they would really grow so fast, we would have gotten a head-start on our coop. I had read that 4-8 weeks was the time they could move outside permanently, so we were going by the eight week rule since we were anxious first time chick owners.
Let me tell you – I wish we had the coop ready to move them outside at four weeks old! They were really ready. Once the coop was finished they were about six weeks old and they began living out there full time.
The first few nights were rough because they were so used to coming inside at night. At sunset, they would wait by the coop door and cry for about an hour. Once it got dark and they realized they weren’t going inside, they finally calmed down and went to sleep.
We had about three nights of this before they really started to love and find comfort being in their coop.
We love to free range our chickens! It was always part of our plan. Just be careful of predators. We only free range when we can somewhat supervise them.
They do poop whenever and wherever so just be aware of that. It does tend to dry up fast, but we always make sure to wear shoes we can ruin when we are outside or inside their coop.
They love to eat bugs and plants! If there is anything you love and would prefer they not eat, make sure you put that out of reach.
Once they are done free-ranging, they will make their way back to the coop!
As for the duck, she loves the water! At two weeks old, she was ready to go in the bathtub or plastic bin with a few inches of water. I slowly added more water each day until I noticed she could float!
Now, we have a kiddie pool for her outside that she swims in daily. They love water for cleaning their nose, splashing around and cooling off.
She also loves frozen peas in a bowl of water. It’s her treat! Lately, I just throw them in the pool and she will dive for them. It’s the cutest thing ever!
She gets along great with the chickens aside from occasionally getting territorial about her space and water. We’ve seen her pull on the necks and wings of the chickens when she gets annoyed. The chickens are pretty resilient and we haven’t had any injuries yet.
As long as everyone has plenty of space and water, they are all good! As a matter of fact, they tend to stick together, even while free-ranging in the yard.
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