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  • Writer's pictureMeili Mattern

Little Puffballs of Cuteness...Baby Chicks

Last week 20 little chicks arrived in the mail! We have an adorable assortment of Black, Blue and Splash Amerucanas, Welsummers and Black and Blue Copper Marans. These babies will become our new egg laying flock when they grow up. We will have some lovely deep brown eggs, from the Welsummers and Marans, and pale blue eggs, from the Amerucanas, on our table in just a few months. And, perhaps, we will decide to hatch some of our own Olive Eggers next spring, which are a hybrid between blue and dark brown egg layers. Our chicks came from Deer Run Farm in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I chose Deer Run Farm to purchase my chicks because not only do they participate in the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), but also they voluntarily and regularly test for mycoplasma. Check out their website over at

In order to welcome our chicks to a comfortable home, we carefully set up their brooder box a few days before their arrival. We used large flake pine shavings covered with paper towels as the substrate. The paper towels are only used for the first day or two to ensure that the chicks peck at their chick starter and identify it as food, rather than consuming bits of the pine shavings. It’s important to not use cedar shavings due to the toxic oils and to not use any slick substrate, such as newspaper sheets, to prevent leg development problems. We chose a Kuhl chick feeder, which holds 5 pounds of feed, which we love. The eating space can accommodate all 20 chicks around it at once, but has a very narrow depth to keep them from sitting in and spoiling the feed. The feeder and a chick waterer sit on top of a Premier 1 feeding platform. Though these are a bit pricey, they do an excellent job of keeping debris out of the feeder and waterer, and are super easy to sanitize. I think this is easier to use than bricks or wood blocks, plus it allows the manure to fall through below the tray so it can be easily scooped out. I was concerned about the possibility of starting a fire with a traditional heat lamp, so I opted for a hanging Sweeter Heater heating plate. We got creative with our brooder box by using a like-new gaylord box that we found on Facebook marketplace for only $6. The cardboard is 36” tall and very sturdy!

When our box of chicks arrived at the Post Office, two of the little ones were floppy and dehydrated from their journey. To help them out we put them in their own separate heated box and “fed” them electrolyte/probiotic/apple cider vinegar water every 20 minutes or so with a q-tip. By the next day they were standing on their own and eating! A week later they are still doing well and just as vigorous as the other chicks.

We will make periodic posts to follow the chicks development!

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