Two days before the big blizzard in January we got an unexpected phone call from the post office; they had 1000 baby roosters for us!! The hatchery had made a mistake and sent us the wrong order. We had hundreds of tiny chicks that we did not have equipment for that we needed to keep alive in very cold temperatures.
Tiny newborn chicks can hop around, drink water, and eat solid chick food, but they need to be kept very warm around 100 degrees. We do not normally have baby chicks here, so we needed to improvise. The first few days we had no-where to put them, so we lined the coolers that we bring eggs to the market in with cardboard and set them in the egg wash room under the heaters. They spent a few days in there until the storm passed and we could set them up properly.
In the past few months we purchased a second farm in which to keep roosters. In Somerset County we have a big market for live chickens. Our neighbors purchase them to eat. If you follow our blog you will know that we do not keep roosters (male chickens) where they have access to our egg laying hens because we would never want to sell a fertilized egg. The plan for our new farm is to raise roosters as meat chickens. Roosters grow faster and are less expensive then hens for us to buy.
The new house is large enough to hold many thousands of birds, but with only a few hundred, it is even more difficult for us to keep the area warm. We blocked off the barn about half way down so that they would be as far from the draft of the doors as possible. We then hung heat lamps very close to the ground, and the chicks could huddle together under them to keep warm. The chicken house was already equipped with feed pans and water lines from which the chicks quickly learned how to eat and drink.
In the photos, the chicks are already three weeks old. They grow so fast! When they came to us, they were so small you could hold three or four in your hand. They will be large enough to eat in as few as twelve weeks. We will not process the chickens ourselves, though. Our customers here prefer to purchase the chickens live and process themselves, so that they are as fresh as possible. Many Latin Americans believe free range chickens have spiritual powers.
The chicks are doing well. They have plenty of room to run, and they will never be put in a cage. We really enjoy being able to provide local families with the freshest product possible.
It’s always busy around here!
Until next time.