“Who has chickens for pets!?!?”
I excitedly said that to my daughter this weekend and she gave me a sheepish smile.
The truth is, lots of people have chickens as pets. But, none of her friends have them as pets and we didn’t know anyone with chickens before we moved here.
For us, chickens are new. The idea that chickens can be pets is new. The idea that we can love and be excited about poopy birds is new.
But here we are. We have chickens as pets.
It’s been three weeks now and we seem to have settled into life with chicks. Although, it’s hard to really settle in considering how quickly they change because we have to change with them.
Somehow our little, sweet, fluffy chicks already look like real birds. Time is literally flying and so are they…small distances anyways.
You can find out which baby chicks we decided on and why here, but I wanted to introduce our new babies too.
Raising Baby Chicks
Batman & Robin – Barred Plymouth Rocks
Sunny & Cher – Buff Orpingtons
Also, I realize it was “Sonny” and Cher but I liked that sunny would be yellow too.
Millie & Dorothy – Snowy Easter Eggers
Mittens & Macy – Lavender Orpingtons
Rosabella & Violet – Blue/Black/Splash Orpingtons
Sage & Primrose – Blue Easter Eggers
It’s been a huge, positive learning experience for us so far and we’ve learned a few tidbits of chicken wisdom in the weeks since they because our new feathered friends and we started raising baby chicks.
They grow really fast.
I knew it was going to happen fast, but I really didn’t expect it to be a FEW DAYS fast. Their wing feathers were already starting to show on Day 2 and by the time we hit Day 4 they were starting to stretch their full wings. About half of them can fly now. The rest just need a little more room and perhaps a little more confidence. Right now, they are growing their tail feathers and additional feathers on their bodies.
They eat like crazy.
I had no idea they would eat so much. I knew that they would scratch and peck at bugs, but nothing prepared me for filling up their feeder multiple times per day. They basically turn into savages now whenever I put a fresh container of food in – despite their food being scattered throughout the brooder.
They all have their own personalities
I was surprised how quickly I could tell them apart by their actions. While I was able to tell them apart by their looks within a few days, I was also able to watch their funny, little personalities develop. Some of the them are brave and others meek. Some don’t mind being cuddled while others would prefer to only be near me (and the kids) if I have food. They seem to have groups of chicken friends they prefer and they’re already fighting over food that’s perceived to be more valuable. For instance, something that looks like a long stringy bug will send a few of them into a tizzy. Just wait until they’re outside and can dig for bugs…:)
They have been so good for the kids
I have to say, I’m so thrilled we did this for the kids. There have been moments that I doubted we did the right thing in moving here – like when we were on Snow Day 12 this winter – but seeing the kids interact with the birds has been one of the highlights of my life.
My son seems to have no fear of his new, feathered friends and loves on them fiercely. He literally hugs and loves on them and then afterwards I slather his cheeks with hand sanitizer.
My daughter was nervous at first but has become a pro at handling them. They both have developed a love for them and as they get bigger, I’ll have them help me with more chicken chores like feeding them and cleaning the coop. Right now, my husband is on the hook.
They get stinky fast.
The first two weeks we put them in the living room, and I didn’t mind it the first week. When Week 2 rolled around I noticed that I couldn’t breathe without smelling wood chips. First, I had Kevin move the wood chips downstairs and then we decided to move the chickens to the basement. I’m honestly a little sad that they’re in the basement now because they get a bit less attention. Although, my husband does work down there so they’ll have him for now.
They go to bed with the sun.
This is GLORIOUS! The first few nights Robin was afraid of the dark and would chirp whenever we would turn out the lights at night. It was sweet and a little sad too – like a puppy crying. The first few nights we left a light on and then I would gradually turn it away from the brooder so it would feel like the sun was going down. Now everyone seems to have settled in, and as long as we gradually turn the lights out still, they go to bed right after their dinner around 7 p.m. with no crying.
They get up with the sun.
I’m not totally surprised by this because the idea of roosters crowing at dawn is pretty standard. But, I am surprised by how their circadian rhythms work. It’s pretty remarkable to witness firsthand.
One takes their place at the top pretty fast
Since their second or third day, Batman has been head bird in the brooder. She will be the first to come out if you stick your hand in – oddly enough followed by Robin – and was the first to get to the top of the chick playground bar. The two of them grew the largest the fastest too. However, I’m not sure they will stay on top. Sunny seems to be getting pretty bold lately – much to my dismay – and pretty big too.
The poop of it all is real
I’ve read a lot about chicken poop because I’ve been excited about composting with it. I’ve also read about how hard it is and how it sticks to everything. It’s true. The chick playground I’ve referred to above is now covered in poop. Kevin said he bought Brillo pads and we are hoping they can actually help us scrub it off.
Also, we had a chick with Pasty Butt and Kevin has now become a pro at cleaning chicken vents. We had to do it two days in a row and after the first day we learned to do it at night so she and the other chickens would just go to sleep and let her feathers dry.
The first day her butt was still wet and so were the feathers around it. This made the other birds curious and they would peck at her. Luckily, the behavior didn’t seem to stick and once her feathers dried, they left her alone.
I haven’t killed any of them
I ordered 12 baby chicks because I was sure one of them would arrive dead or I would somehow kill a few within the first few days. So far, they all seem to be thriving and honestly, I’m shocked. Now that I write this, I know one of them is going to die. Knock on some wood for me, please!
I have favorites and non-favorites
I have some chickens I love already, some I’m so-so with and some that I won’t be too sad should they get eaten by a hawk. My favorites tend to be the ones that don’t want me to touch them and spaz out if I pick them up. This includes Rosabella, Sage and Violet. Batman, Robin, Mittens and Macy are now coming up to me for chest rubs so they are rising to the top too. Sunny and Primrose now seem to be biting me when I stick my hand in to pet them. They have fallen to the bottom of my list…and Prim is the one who had Pasty Butt.
I’ve been changing my plans for them
It’s amazing how quickly I feel a sense of responsibility for these birds and how quickly our family has become attached to these birds. For the first two weeks someone was always home with them, I have been feeding them organic food and each night I am putting a larger heater in their cage so they have more room to spread out and go to sleep (even though they tend to sleep lumped in groups). Now that we moved them to the basement – and away from our old dog – and placed wire over their brooder to keep the brave ones from flying out, we are more confident about leaving them. We are still trying to figure out the whole leaving-them-over-night thing. Until we do, at least one person is staying put here.
I’ll update you again on them soon with new pictures AND the coop is coming next week so I’ll make sure I capture all of it and give you a tour too!
To find out more about why we started this journey, click here.