Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Start of Puberty

The chicks are getting older... quickly. I believe we have started what should be known as "Chicken Puberty." The chicks are only a little over a week old, they've doubled in size, their combs and color on their beaks are coming in, and they're beginning to get their wing and tail feathers. They're still the cute little buggers that arrived in a box a week or so ago, but they're beginning to change. I know in a few weeks they're going to go through some awkward, ugly stages, but right now, I'm enjoying my babies!
They're eating well, the major medical issues seem to have passed, and they're really enjoying any time they get to spend outside.

Oh, when I say "medical issues," I mean the threat-of-dying issues. Maybe I should briefly mention this! When baby chicks are born, they usually have a mother to take care of their needs. In our chick's lives, I am their mother. Meaning I have to do all of the nasty stuff that a mother hen would usually do. And this means picking poop off their butts. Chickens and other birds, reptiles, and fish have this thing called a "cloaca." This is actually their poop-shooter. But these animals only have one hole. No hole for pee, and hole for poo. Just one hole. So everything comes out of this hole. Baby chicks have runny poo, which often can get stuck to their cloaca, or "vent." In doing my research, I learned to look out for this condition. Sometimes it can be hard to tell because the chicks have so much "fluff" around their rears.

One day I noticed two babies lying in the middle of their home and they seemed to be breathing heavy, head down in pine shavings, and neither looking nor behaving anything like the other chicks. After closer examination, I learned that they had "pasted." Pasting is when their poo clogs up their vent and they cannot pass any more poo. This has to be cleaned immediately because it can cause death. So I got to work. I sat down in front of the TV, beach towel, spray bottle and paper towels, rubbing the chick's butt. Seriously. I spent at least 30 minutes, each, on the two chicks. They were letting out a screeching "peeeeeep" the whole time. Their little vents were getting red and swollen. I know it was hurting them, but I knew I was saving their lives. Yeah, it was pretty gross. But I sucked it up, being thankful that I wasn't having to do it the way a mother hen would- use my mouth to pick the poo off their vents! YUCK!

Those babies have gone on to be happy and healthy. I don't have to worry much about this pasting issue anymore. Instead I have to worry about keeping their food in plentiful supply! These little suckers can chow down!!!

RNH and I are still working on the coop. I'm a little worried about what is going to happen between the time when the chicks are a bit bigger, but not big enough to be in the coop outside, full-time. I think their cage will be too small. We'll have to see!

*This post should have been written several weeks ago, however I didn't have time, or was too lazy to sit at the computer. So the chickens are no longer going through puberty. But I will try to get you up-to-date sooner-than-later! The chicks are no longer chicks anymore!!!



  2. HAAAAAAAHAHAHHAHA! Poop really isn't THAT nasty! :)