Upgrading the Chicks Playpen

Chicks and dog kennel USE

  The chicks in their new hang-out!

Our Rhode Island Red chicks are 6 weeks old now and I can’t get over just how fast they chicks are growing. I blink my eyes and they have outgrown their brooder. I go to sleep and when I wake up the need a bigger area to run it. It happens just that fast.

So today we increased the size of their day pen area. I was up by 6 a.m. and moving them out of their too small area into a much bigger one.

Checking out the new hangout

The chicks check out the new larger dog kennel in their play area.

I turned the inside layer of the dog crate and sat it up against the fence. I thought this way it would mimic the small plastic tote the chicks are used to. It sure didn’t take them long to adapt to their new one. After this photograph was taken I added a thick layer of sand to the bottom of both totes. This gives them a cooler place to veg and sand to eat as grit.

New pen area6-4-15 USE

Give these chicks a pile of sand and they are in chick heaven!

A friend gave us her old plastic dog crate which I hosed out and washed up as a hangout space for them. I filled the base with cool sand as a place for them to lie on and dust. They have been hanging out in a small blue plastic bin turned on its side but they have really outgrown it. They seem to like to their tiny bin; running in and out and act like they feel safe having that space to run into and under. I like the idea that they can scoot into a covered box like this if a large bird flies overhead or it begins to suddenly rain before I can get out there to bring them back inside. They like it and use it and that is what really matters.

6 weeks old

Our Rhode Island Red chicks at six-week-old.

We also moved them into the penned off space at the far north end of our vegetable garden so they have more running around space.  I moved in a log for jumping up and down on, a long tree trunk for waking along and several water containers, feeders and a pile of sand. My  chicks are just plain enamored with a simple pile of sand.

Girls on the run

 Girls on the run!

We also created a large triangle of shade using wood stakes to drape the old red bedspread over to make a shady corner for them. I could use a tarp but think the plastic will transfer even more heat than this old red cotton bedspread that use to cover my sons twin bed when he was a child.

Corner hangout with blanket USE

Making a make-shift shady cabana for our chicks.

We do have shade in that corner for the largest part of the day, but not the entire day, so the bedspread covering gives them shade during the sunniest  part of the day. I watch them carefully to see that they do not overheat watching for signs of panting, wings spread out etc.

On the cement block

The old blue tote, their water pan and a cement block to raise the pan when the grow a bit taller.

At this stage the chicks are outside almost all day that it is not raining and go back inside the laundry room at night. We are making plans for second coop now. I do not think that 8 birds are going to fit into the little chicken coop we currently have. Nighttime sleeping may not be a problem, but 6 months in the winter? Not going to happen.

Walking the plant!

Ahoy matie…I walk the plank!

Of course this means the big girl hens no longer can use this pasture which is going to be interesting, to say the least. I wonder just how long it is going to take them to fly over the fence to get into this pasture once I shut off the gate?

But it is really good that they are continuing to observe and smell each other day after day. Although my husband the upland  bird hunter feels that chickens do not smell, current research suggests that chickens do have a sense of small and do respond to smells. To read more about a chicken’s sense of smell, visit The HenCam blog Vhttp://hencam.com/henblog/2014/02/a-chickens-sense-of-smell/

I am hoping that this extended time scratching and pecking next to one another will help with the flock integration process that will take place in a few more weeks.

And yes, I am still working everyday on planning the vegetable garden. This is the way it goes here; weed, plant, put on the horse manure soil and go make a meal. Back to the garden to plant and get interrupted again….Seed planting is an s-l-o-w- process at the Small House. But I will get it done eventually!

Small House homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna

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