August 12, 2011

Baby Chick Update & Chicken Wading Pool

Speaking of chickens, how about an update on my baby chicks?

Mama and all 17 chicks are doing fine. The two home hatched (black ones) are going on 3 weeks old. The mail order chicks (yellow) are several days older than that.

I found some old screens in the coal barn, and used them to section off a small area outside the chicken and goat shed. Mama can bring her chicks out into the fresh air, sunshine, and real dirt, yet they can't wander off too far. Nor can they be stepped on by goats, or chased by bigger chickens, though they're little enough to hop through the welded wire fence.

She is an absolutely excellent mother. She shows them how to scratch around, what to eat, and how to take a dust bath. She's always available in case one of them wants to hide or warm up a bit. Amazingly, she's an expert at rounding them up.

Several folks mentioned a chicken wading pool in the comments of my Beat the Heat Chicken Style post. Actually, we had already tried that. Dan found some large plastic tray like boxes in the dumpster and brought them home. I suggested we make a wading pool for the chickens, which he obligingly did. After he filled it with water, we stepped back to watch.

But would they wade in it? Nooo.

The chickens came over to take a look, discussed it amongst themselves, got a drink, and went off about their chicken business. They still haven't waded in it, but they still take turns in the water dish! [UPDATE: Aug. 21, 2011 - one of them finally gave it a try!]

Wading Delaware, watching Welsummer
(but that's as close as  Ms. Wellie will get)

Actually it's only two of the seven chickens that wade in the water dish, the Delaware and the Barred Holland hen. None of the others have given it a try. We noticed early on that none of our Delawares seemed to mind the rain, or being wet. And it's the Delaware that always comes running any time I dump out a dirty waterer or bucket. She loves to scratch around in the mud.

Lord B beckons the hens into the pasture

The Barred Holland hen is probably the most intelligent of all our chickens, even though the poor thing is at the very bottom of the pecking order. She's very expert at foraging (a Barred Holland breed quality). In fact the Delaware (top of the pecking order, even over Lord B), will follow Lady B around and steal her finds. Because of the difference in their chicken social status, it's curious that they hang out together so much.

Lady Barred Holland & Lady Delaware, buds

Fascinating creatures, chickens.


  1. This looks like a great set up for your chicks! We use a brooder when we have either hatched or mail ordered chicks. How many chicks do you think your hen could handle out of curiosity?

  2. I so love people who love chickens. Yours look great. i love the little chick atop the mamma. :-) A free smile.

  3. What a big family! I wonder what the chickens don't like about the pool,.

  4. Sounds like my next breed to try is Delaware; goodness knows they'd get enough rain and mud in our Oregon winters!

  5. I love watching chickens - always something interesting going on and one wonders what goes through their minds with the wading?

  6. you can see how happy that 'momma' is-her tail straight up and busy, so happy & proud :)
    man I love chickens but if I had one it would just be a pet.
    Hey they like the hot tub better than the lap pool :)

  7. well if they don't wade in the pool perhaps the water will stay cleaner in there for drinking?

    They sure are curious birds. Glad to hear that the chicks are doing so well and you have a great momma there.

  8. Thanks for the update! So happy to see momma & her adopted brood doing so well! :)

  9. Hi Leigh, I filled a "pool" for my girls, but it sounds like mine had a similar reaction to yours... lots of investigation and some drinking but no waders. Then it got flipped and that's when the fun really started. They stand there for what seems like hours and peck at it... it's quite funny.

    The babies are cute and good job to the mama's ability to corral them...:)

  10. So cute, looks like our house. We had a mama hen hatch out 10 of her own and we gave her another 25 hatchery chicks, she watches them all, it is hilarious to see all the little legs sticking out from under her.

  11. I love chickens and sure do miss having them and their wonderful eggs. Very neet set up for them to warnder around but not to far that they would get into mischief or harmed.

  12. Your mama hen with the 17 chicks is amazing! Good for you for sneaking the store-bought ones in to her. I'm sure they will grow up to be better chicks having had a good mama to get them started right in life. Sure is curious about nobody liking the swimming pool you put out for them!

  13. I just happened to come along your blog and love it! We currently have a hen laying on 16 eggs and they are due to hatch tomorrow! We tried the wading pool too and they took a few drinks, looked at it, then went on with their chicken lives.. so it really did no good. But, it was worth a try! Check out our blog, if you have time!

    The Chicken Keepers

  14. Okay, I never knew chickens liked water to wade in. Even though I grew up on a farm, I have learned so much from you and your experiences.

    Still waiting for that book. :)

  15. Ya'll, thank you so much for your comments. I've lost internet and am having computer problems due to a bad storm Friday night. This is a brief thank you note because I'm at the county library computer and am about out of time (have been researching answers to my computer problems.) I'll be around for return blog visits as soon as I can!


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