Chickens: from Chick to Pullet

Our chicks have been outside in the brood box for the last several weeks.  I’ve been turning the light on at night for them so they don’t get chilled.  The chicks will “tell” you when they’re hot or cold.  If they’re too hot, they will spread out from one another, put their wings out to the side and pant like a dog.  If the chicks are too cold, they’ll group together very tightly trying to stay warm.  When they’re small, sometimes they will crush the ones on the bottom of the pile.

Our chicks are close to the pullet stage, aka the teenage stage.  They’re starting to get their adult feathers and they look a little funny with big, smooth feathers and baby, fuzzy down.

Once they are fully feathered, no more down, they are ready to be put outside.  Ours will go into the chicken tractors to be moved around the pastures.

When the pullets are close to 5 months old, they will then graduate into the hen house.  It’s important when putting new hens into an established group, that the new group being introduced has at least 3 hens.  Trying to put in a single hen can be harmful in a big house – the new hen tends to get picked on, sometimes to the point of injury.  If there is an injury, put vitamin E or any kind of ointment that is goopy and sticky.  Hens hate getting it on their beak and will leave the injured bird alone.

The hens in the house will establish a new pecking order, including the new chickens into the order.

It’s quite the phenomenon to watch how the hierarchy is established in the hen house.  And every time you introduce new hens into an established group, they start the pecking order all over again!

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