Chicks in tractors

Chicks eating weedsYou may remember that our
seven day old chicks could just barely eat sourgrass and tick trefoil
flowers and didn’t have a clue what to do with compost worms
.  One week later, they
consumed a big handful of sourgrass down to the stems in just a couple
of hours, so we decided they needed to start finding their own grub.

Chicken tractor

Chicks pecking at carpetIn the past, we’ve had
trouble with losing such tiny chicks to predators when we put them out
in the coop, so we had discussed doing some serious predator proofing
with hardware cloth and shutting the chicks in at night for a
while.  Then Mark came up with a better solution — why not use
one of our old chicken
to let the chicks enjoy pasture while living right outside
our back door where we and our dog could keep a close eye on them?

The chicks heartily
approved of their new quarters.  It took approximately
90 seconds for them to stop making scared chirps and move on to pecking
up everything that moved.  The carpets Mark had used to line the
back of the tractor were a favorite foraging spot — I suspect a lot
of insects had moved in during the year the tractor had been
abandoned.  Inchworms and spiders also slid right down their
gullets, and I even saw one chick doing his level best to get through a
snail shell to consume the mollusc inside.

Chicks on pasture

Wet chicksUnfortunately, the skies opened three hours
later and heavy rains sent the chicks scurrying for cover.  The
sheltered part of the tractor — perfect for adult chickens — was
too open for our half-feathered chicks, and they soon started piling on
top of each other in distress. 

I scooped them all up and brought them back inside to spend another
week or two in the brooder.  I guess two weeks old is too young
for a chicken tractor except during pretty weather.

Our chicken waterer has kept our chicks healthy
despite highs in the 90s.

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