Free range chicks

Chick habitat

Chicks eating sourgrassI’ll probably regret it, but
I’ve been letting our second batch of chicks forage freely for three
weeks now.  The chicks were itching to get out onto pasture when
they were still small enough to fit through the holes in our
fence material
, so I
just took down the fence and let them roam.

Since the brooder is currently situated near a
garden plot that’s mostly fallow (planted in an
ryegrass cover crop
they can’t do much damage. 
Chick eating chickweedYes, the chicks have
scratched up the mulch under my blackberries, but I don’t mind
remulching after I move the chicks elsewhere if it means lots of free

And I’m very impressed
by the youngster’s ability to demolish the bits of sourgrass that are
growing in the garden.  The birds make short work of the chickweed
too, and entertain us for hours as they hunt down bugs in the grass and
on the wing.

Care of the flock became
even easier when I upgraded them to a two gallon
bucket waterer, suspended from a branch of
the peach tree.  The chicks cluster around the nipples on hot
Chick watererafternoons and drink to their
hearts’ content.

So, why will I regret
letting our chicks free range when both they and we enjoy it so
much?  At a month old, they’re already ranging thirty or forty
feet away from the brooder, and at this rate they’ll be in the active
part of the vegetable garden within two or three weeks.  At that
point, I’ll have to fence the rascals in, and I’ll bet they’ll turn
enjoying free run of the whole back yard for so long.

Chick speakBut
I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  For now, I’m enjoying
Chicken TV too much to shut it off.

Our chicken waterer is perfect
for chicks from day 1.

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