Although I wrote about
viability, hatchability, and survivability as scientific ways of
measuring success in Permaculture
Chicken: Incubation Handbook, I also use a simpler
method. How soon do the chicks hop up on top of the ecoglow
(Usually, this occurs around day two, but I saw the first chicks
perched after 24 hours this time around.) And how fast do the
chicks grow out of their living quarters?
Five days after the
first chicks hatched (and two days after the
runt popped out of
its shell), the rubbermaid-bin brooder was clearly overcrowded.
Despite adding fresh leaves to the bottom, it was also starting to
smell. Time to get those chicks outdoors!
In the process, I did my
best to pull out six girls to swap with a friend. The
theory is that even at this tender age, you can guess the
sex of chicks based
on leg, comb, and overall size (larger for boys) and wing feathering
(more for girls). I’ll let you know in a few months whether my
guess was better than the 50/50 mix you’d get by chance.
As seems to be usual, I
had to place the chicks under the brooder one by one for the first
couple of nights, but then they relearned the ropes and began to enjoy
their larger home. Next stop — the real outdoors!
when your chicks have outgrown their brooder.