We Have Ugly Chickens!

From little fuzz balls to almost- feathered-out chickens, these things have changed so quickly and become a source of entertainment for all of us!  They’re getting their adult feathers in with their chicken fluff, so they look goofy and are growing so fast I can’t keep up with their progress!

We Have Ugly Chickens
Our chicks growing up are comical – but they’re also kind of ugly!

Let me tell you – if you’ve never had chickens before, it’s a riot!  Granted, there have been some learning experiences that weren’t so fun (like scraping poop off their butts), but their curiosity coupled with fear is just comical!

One thing I’ve learned – chicks acquiring their adult feathers is just funny.  They look like they stuck their beaks in a light socket and got a bit fried – their chick fuzz sticking out at all angles, their feathers too big for their bodies, they look a bit like something that should belong in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”.

These little things are growing so fast – one day they still had fuzz feathers all over their backs and necks; the next day – they were all gone!  I can’t believe how fast they change!  Of course, they almost all look the same, so I’m never sure if the same one is coming up to me, but I have a few that are the “adventurers” and others that I may never be able to lay a hand on, which is a little frustrating because it would be nice to be able to handle them if need be.

Another thing I’ve learned – chickens are NOT the brightest birds in the flock.  In fact – they’re probably about as dumb as a box of rocks.  But their job isn’t to be rocket scientists.  These have the job of producing eggs (if, in fact, they are all pullets [females]).

Dad was worried about them being able to hop out of the coop into the yard so we built a brick staircase.  Of course they were terrified of the bricks, but after a day or so we could see that they were definitely climbing the bricks.

One day he put an old stool in the pen with them to sit and watch.  Two started climbing on his boots.  I called him about something, and the birds got a rude awakening – his phone “barks”.  And loudly.  He said they all scattered.  Another day I tapped a pan on the ground to clean it out – half of them skedaddled, the other half “hit the deck” and flattened to the ground.  I think most were stunned to stillness!

We don’t have all ISA Browns and Barred Rocks.  Dad thought those were the two he purchased.  However – four are distinctly different from the rest, now that their adult feathers are coming in.  These four are still black and white, but the way their coloring/baring is coming through is different from the rest.  They are “darker” because there is less white (or maybe it’s more “gray”).  Two of these chicks also have white points at the corner of their eyes – a marking I’ve been seeing in a few Cuckoo Marans during my research to determine what these chicks really are.

Cuckoo Maran Chick
We thought we got all Barred Rocks (and ISA Browns) but this chick is starting to look more like a Cuckoo Maran.

We’ve noticed that the “blacks” have different colorings – such as tan or black chests, legs different colors, some have dots on the back of their heads and others don’t – but I haven’t been able to get confirmed answers from anybody.  So – if you know what our chicks really are, please let me know!  I’m guessing that through the years the commercial breeders aren’t really breeding true-to-type, so there’s probably some mixes in the flock; then when they’re shipped they may get mixed even more.  Hence why we have four “Cuckoo Marans”.

They’re curious, but also stand-off-ish.  I started bringing in some grass/weeds for them to try.  Figured they were going to be out on “pasture” soon enough and should have an idea of what it is.  I also wanted them to get more friendly.  They definitely still have a ways to go in that department.  They don’t run up to me whenever I bring them grass, and I think a few of them still don’t have a clue, as the more confident ones have that market cornered, but it’s still getting them near me and used to me.  I also brought in some little violet flowers – and they love them!  I don’t know if it’s because of the shape or color (can chickens see in color?), but it’s still funny to see one grab it, take it away, then run around with its prize!

Feeding the Chicks by Hand
I started feeding the chicks some grass and weeds – to get them used to the greens before they went out to pasture as well as to get them more used to me.
Chicks in Grit
Chickens are supposed to have “grit”. We’re still researching this requirement, but they really love to play in the sand! Sometimes they fight and crowd together when we put new in their bowl!
Barred Rock Not Sure
This little guy wasn’t sure what was going on, but you can see her comb starting to come in! Some you can see the “waddles” too!
Eating and Drinking
After the exhaustion of eating greens from a human hand they have to go back to eating or drinking – it’s really funny to watch their antics!

I’m still excited we got chicks!  Dad is working hard trying to make sure everything is ready for them to “go to pasture” – fencing to keep the chicks in and the predators out, doors so we can get in easily, rearranging things now that we know what we need and have a better schedule/routine.  Since he was only planning on 12-18 chicks (then got WAY more), he had to rebuild their nest boxes, which took a bit of work – to cut costs he repurposed some other wooden items and had to take apart, cut to size, and rebuild.

For the most part, after we get the infrastructure finalized, they should be relatively easy to maintain.  As long as they go in their coop at night, we’ll be golden!  They shouldn’t need much feed during pasture, their waterer is large enough to last a day or two, and so far they aren’t getting into too much mischief.

How about you?  Do you have chickens?  Got any great stories?  Tell us in the comments below!

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