Sadly, we lost one of our babies sometime overnight. This is to be expected, but it’s still no fun. Not all baby chicks are slated to make it to adulthood, and they are particularly vulnerable when they are tiny like this. I had my eye on this particular little guy since yesterday afternoon – he/she didn’t look so great to me. He/she wanted to sleep more and eat and drink and play less than his broodermates. Those were not good signs, but I kept hoping. Whenever I’d pick him up, he’d perk up and move around and even eat or drink a bit – but it wouldn’t last. Anyway, it was one of my seven Cuckoo Marans, so now there are six. There is one more Maran that isn’t looking top-notch, so I’m not going to get too attached, but here’s hoping.
Everybody else is looking quite well. Last night by the time we went to bed they were pretty quiet and mostly sleeping. At 6:15am this morning, they were all up and eating and drinking and peeping (except the dead one and the sleepy one). I removed their fallen friend, emptied, scrubbed, and refilled their waterers, and checked them for pasting up.
Pasting up is a condition that can happen during shipping or in the following week or so. It is where the babies have loose droppings and they build up in the down on their rear ends and then it dries and hardens. This is dangerous because it blocks the vent (a chicken’s rear end “exit” – used for pooping, laying eggs, breeding, etc.) and then they can’t eliminate, get backed up, and die. I found two chicks this morning with a concerning amount of buildup and I cleaned them off. A few others had a small amount back there that isn’t a problem yet, but I will keep an eye on them.
Their new favorite game seems to be “kill the thermometer.” I have a simple glass thermometer attached to a piece of cardboard that lives in the brooder to monitor the temperature for the babies. I periodically move it around to various parts of the brooder to check the temperature at a given spot. This morning I put it in the middle under the light. The babies then proceeded to hop all over it and try to peck it to death. Five or six at a time would all crowd on top of it and start attacking. This very much seems to amuse them. A couple of them have also taken to attacking the walls of the brooder, pecking as hard as they can at various points on the walls. Some parts of the cardboard give a little when they do this… others do not. They seems to get very mad at that stationary parts and shriek at them. They are quite pleased with themselved when they get a wall to move a bit, though, peeping contentedly as they peck it over and over again. It really is quite entertaining to watch.
I also remembered this morning that I once read that the babies like something soft in which to snuggle up and take a nap. I’ve read that stuffed animals or old blankets or wash cloths will do fine. So I tossed a clean white terry cloth in there and they seem to love it. The most aggressive ones like to climb to the highest point on it (probably and inch and a half high) and stand on top and look down at everyone else. The others like to snuggle down into it and take naps. Very cute.
By 7:00am the sky was light and the babies all simultanesouly decided it was time for a nap. I was sitting there watching them and within a minute they all went from running and playing to lying face-down on the floor, asleep. It’s hard work being a baby!