Our house is filled with the sound of chicks cheeping once again. After a sunny family outing to the ice park, we stopped at our local feed store and looked at chicks. They don't have the selection that will be available in the coming weeks, but the basics were covered; Broad Breasted white and bronze turkeys, Rouen ducks, assorted bantams, Cornish Cross, and a half a dozen or so egg laying breeds. We picked up six Cornish Cross and six Black Sex linked layers. Today we are going to stop in for six Rhode Island Reds that were not available for take home yesterday as they had just arrived.
Setting up the chick area took about twenty minutes. I grabbed a chick waterer and feeder along with a tub, electrolytes and a heat lamp from our chicken storage area. I scooped a bucket of feed out of the storage container and ground it up for the chicks, adding a few pinches of herbal wormer on the top. The only item that would help is a bag of wood chips. They are in our hallway under the seed starting rack. In a few weeks we'll probably move them up into the lower chicken/duck coop. We only have three ducks and two roosters in the lower coop presently. We have plans to kill one male duck and the extra roosters this week, leaving two ducks which can easily move into the greenhouse or hoophouse, leaving the better insulated structure for brooding chicks.
I've been keeping an eye on Honey, our Cochin who you'd think would be going broody anytime now. If she goes broody in the next month or so I'm going to put some duck and Ameraucana eggs under her. In mid April sixty ducklings will be flown up from Holderread Waterfowl Farm, of which about twenty five are for us, the rest for a couple friends. We have thirty Cornish ordered with McMurray for early June. We picked up six yesterday as our frozen chicken stash is down to just a few and I don't want to be out of roasters come grilling time in June and July so the plan is for these six Cornish to hold us over till the end of summer when the rest are ready.
We were hoping to raise an assortment of heritage turkeys but we just found out that the feed store isn't carrying any heritage turkeys this year except by special order, which may be more hassle than we are up for. I had looked at ordering heritage turkey poults directly from the hatcheries, but needed a minimum of fifteen. I am thinking we may just buy four Broad Breasted Whites. We have a small movable hoophouse on our top mini flat spot, I'd say pasture but that would be an exaggeration. We raised four Bourbon Reds in there a couple summers ago and it worked out fine. Four BB Whites would provide three times or more meat that the Heritage counterparts anyways. I am looking forward to grinding up at least one turkey for ground turkey meat and sausage.
For now, I'm happy to be listening to the sound of the first chicks of spring.....