When they reached the ripe
old age of 2.5 weeks, I
decided to take down the cardboard barrier separating the chicks from
the rest of the coop.
They quickly started exploring the coop, and then slipped through holes
to range out in all directions into the outside world. At this
age, chicks are small enough to fit through just about any hole, and
they had no trouble popping through the chicken wire fences to wander
from pasture to pasture, but they mostly stayed together and close to
You might remember that I was
disappointed in the
foraging ability of our Dark Cornish broilers last year, so I was trying
not to get my hopes up too high about this round of chicks. I
shouldn’t have bothered curbing my enthusiasm. Our homegrown
chick is pretty good, but the Black Australorps are pros. A fly
buzzed into their coop and within seconds two chicks were set on a
collision course like baseball outfielders. (The chicks didn’t
hit each other, but one did catch the fly midair and gulp it
down.) Once the chicks expanded their range, they were soon
chowing down on worms, insects, and lots of greenery.
I did notice that the
chicks don’t seem to be as discerning as our older chickens.
Everything looks edible to their little chick eyes, from Japanese
honeysuckle leaves to poison ivy, and I can only guess that they learn
which foods are more tasty over time. Still, I can’t help
thinking that their meat is going to be tasty
(and nutritious) with all of this wild food from an early age.
keeps our chicks healthy.