Growing Up

For some reason that I’ve yet to determine, the mortality rate with both the first and second batch of chicks mailed this year was incredibly high. However, those that managed to survive their first two weeks seem to be healthy and doing well.

The April chicks (it appears that 8 of the remaining chicks are Icelandics – 13 were shipped – and the other 8 are Egyptian Fayoumi – 9 were shipped. Apparently I lost all of the Spangled Hamburgs) needed more room so the other day I dismantled last year’s attempt to divide the outside run into two sides and after hauling out the cattle panel and orange snow fence, brought three sections of dog kennel in to set up against the chicken coop. These jobs take so much longer without help and I got one piece stuck (everything has to be carefully angled to be able to fit through two doors which are perpendicular to each other) necessitating me having to climb through the pop hatch myself to get out of the enclosure. However, I eventually got the kennel panels up, used chicken wire to cover the gaps between the kennel panels and coop and covered the kennel so the chicks couldn’t fly out and the older chickens couldn’t fly in. This is a day solution so I have to move chicks out in the morning and back again at the end of the day. We won’t discuss how many escaped chicks I’ve had to catch during the past couple of days – am still working on the logistics.

The primary reason for moving out the older chicks during the day was that the surviving chicks from earlier this month were getting too large to spend all their time in the brooder and I wanted to give them daytime access to the larger area of the coop now that they are starting to feather up. They were hesitant to come out until I raised the brooder lid, but seem to be getting more comfortable spending time “outside”.

The heater plate is a new experiment and appears to work well. It is supposed to simulate being underneath a hen and is adjustable in height so can be raised to accommodate growing chicks. I don’t know yet how many surviving chicks are the Icelandics I wanted (there were 10 in this batch). Two are white crested black polish – distinctive enough to be able to identify at day one.

Sunday Snaps

This year is the first time I have raised more than one batch of chicks (not by choice) and so when I got the second batch in early May it meant I had to move the first chicks out of the brooder sooner than my normal practice. I set up a shelter for the chicks in the coop section with the brooder and then blocked off the entry back into the brooder so the older chicks would have to stay in that section. Sure enough, the first night when I went out to check, the older chicks were all piled together in front of the brooder entrance. I picked them up and placed them into their new shelter. The next night, they were piled in front of the opening to their new shelter. I again moved them into the shelter. The third night they seemed to know the new routine and were all in the shelter. The next few nights were uneventful. Then a couple of days ago I went out and half the chicks (the Icelandics that I had ordered and not the chicks which were used as “filler” chicks to make up a sufficient number to ship) were huddled together on a wooden platform about half way up off the floor. I again moved chicks to the shelter. Then Saturday night when I went out I couldn’t find half the chicks — when I looked up there were 8 chicks roosting on the rafter. I wasn’t willing to go haul out the step ladder to be able to reach them so just hoped that they would survive the nighttime temperatures (they did). Last night (Sunday) when I went out, ten chicks – mostly Icelandic – were on the rafter so this is evidently the new nighttime routine.

One Day Shy of 6 Weeks

Bug will be five months old on Tuesday – here she is Sunday.

Chicks just in time for Easter

Monday night I was working on a job and my phone rang. While I normally don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize and this call was from out of state, I answered the phone and was informed that chicks had been mailed that day. For some background leading up to that call – a couple of years ago, I’ve lost track of exactly when, I found a poultry breeder who was actually shipping Icelandic chicks and not just hatching eggs. My previous attempt to get Icelandics by buying eggs and having them hatched locally had been an expensive failure so I was very happy to find that someone was actually sending chicks. I ordered 25 in the fall for a spring delivery but there were some complications and the poultry breeder ended up not shipping that spring. While he offered to refund the monies I asked him just to ship chicks the next year. Last year I got a single shipment with five (one dead) Icelandic chicks. Now I was being informed that I would be receiving another partial Icelandic shipment, again with extra “filler” chicks to maintain the numbers necessary for shipment.

So on Tuesday, I quit work early and spent my late afternoon cleaning out the section of the chicken coop that contains the brooder. After re-bedding the brooder with hay I double-checked my chick supplies and decided that in addition to picking up chick starter to feed the new arrivals that I would need to buy a new waterer and feeder.

Wednesday morning at 6:24 am the post office called to let me know the chicks had arrived. I duly got up, put the dogs out, brought the dogs in, had a cup of coffee and headed to town to pick up chicks (and stop at the grocery store for myself and my neighbor, drop off eggs for a friend and stop at the feed store for the necessary chick starter and supplies – all while maintaining physical distancing protocols.) I got home and set up the chicks in the brooder.

I received 13 Icelandic chicks, 9 Egyptian Fayoumi and 4 Golden Spangled Hambergs. A Google search netted decent photographs of the adult chicken plumage but I was less successful finding photos of day old chicks. The Golden Spangled Hambergs are most likely darker birds and since the Egyptian Fayoumi are white with black as adults, I suspect as chicks those might be lighter colored. Icelandics have a variety of colors in adult plumage so while last year all the chicks were blackish, just given the numbers, at least some of the yellowish chicks are likely to be Icelandics. But this will be a wait and see proposition.

I checked the brooder last night to ensure the light was working but when I went out this morning to feed the chickens I heard absolutely NO cheeping at all. Fully expecting to find the light had failed and that all the chicks had died overnight, I was elated to find that all the chicks were alive and under the (still working) light. The cheeping started as soon as I opened the brooder. So here is to a little good news in these troubling times.

And Life Goes On . . .

I received a call from the Iowa poultry breeder on Tuesday evening while I was milking goats. Unfortunately, my order of Icelandic chicks wasn’t able to be filled – his hatch only provided five chicks – so a shipment had been made that day which contained chicks from two different breeds as well as the five Icelandics. I really didn’t want any other breeds, but a minimum number of chicks have to be shipped in order to keep the chicks warm enough. The US Postal Service came through with flying colors again — not necessarily great about delivering letters timely, but live chicks are always delivered quickly — and I got a call on Thursday at 6:06 am from the post office stating my chicks were ready to be picked up. While in past years I would have been out the door in 5 minutes, I’ve learned that the chicks can really handle another 30 minutes in their box so I took the time to have a cup of coffee before heading out. When I got back home and took the new chicks out to the brooder, I opened the box to find . . .

Range Sussex

12 Range Sussex chicks. These are not a true breed but an experimental cross between Sussex and Dorkings first made by this poultry breeder in the mid-1990s to determine if the cross was less susceptible to certain poultry diseases.  These were sent as “filler” chicks.

The remaining ten chicks included five Partridge Barnvelders and five (one dead) Icelandics. The black(ish) chick is an Icelandic and the brown chick behind it is a Barnvelder.

Given how my year has gone to date I guess I not surprised that the one chick that didn’t survive shipping was one of my much anticipated Icelandics.

I’ll have an update on the (lack of) progress after the fire in a few days. I’m too depressed to want to think about it right now.


I have wanted Icelandic chickens for quite some time. A few years ago I had tried the route of having hatching eggs shipped but only ended up with only six chicks hatching and only two survived more than a couple of days. I lost both to predators within a couple of months.

A friend with Icelandics had a hen go broody and hatch four chicks out of a clutch of 8 eggs. I was supposed to pick up the four chicks on the 22nd, but the fire on the 20th prevented me from getting them as planned. I did manage to pick up the chicks a few days ago. Since I’ve never raised such a small number of chicks in the brooder before I was a little concerned whether the heat lamp would be sufficient but the chicks all seem to be doing well.

Icelandics are what I would call a “land race” in dogs — a breed that is focused on breeding to maintain function rather than breeding to create a uniform appearance. All four chicks are different colors and it will be interesting to see the adult plumage for each.

Icelandic Chicks

I had an order for Icelandic chicks from a poultry breeder in Iowa last year but due to circumstances, he was unable to fill the order. Rather than request a refund I asked him to ship chicks this year when he could. I recently got an e-mail from him saying he hoped to ship chicks in mid-June. By then, these four will be able to be moved out of the brooder into the associated section of coop. I’m excited to finally get my Icelandics (now to wait and see how many roosters versus hens I get as the above, as well as the ones which will be shipped, are all “straight run” and not sexed.

Chickens, chickens and more chickens

Icelandic cross??

This past spring the young Icelandic rooster gifted to me tried to protect two hens from a coyote and unfortunately all three chickens lost their lives.

However, one of my hens hatched out four chicks and successfully raised three. (Clutches are a communal effort so the parentage of the chicks is always debatable.) Two turned out to be hens – one is a dirty white so is likely a Delaware cross – and the third was a rooster. I *think* that my Icelandic rooster might have been the sire of this particular chicken.


A few weeks ago, the friend who gave me my original Icelandic rooster gifted me with another Icelandic rooster. This one is older and has gone through a molt. His tail feathers still need to grow back.

New Icelandic Rooster

And finally, towards the end of the summer one of my hens decided she no longer wanted to roost in the coop. Since she could avoid Fix (and me) by going through the cattle panel into either the corral or goat pens, we were never able to move her back to the coop at night. I figured she would have a short life expectancy spending the night outside, alone but she continually surprised me by being present every morning when I went out to feed. Every night after the rest of the chickens were locked up in the coop, I would look for the errant hen and be unable to find her. However, a couple of nights ago I finally found where she had gone to roost.  See if you can find the chicken.

Last night the temperatures dropped to 18 degrees and I was sure the hen couldn’t have survived, but she was hanging out at the animal pens when I went out to feed (though she did follow me back to the chicken coop and ask to be let inside.) We will see if she goes back to the coop tonight with the rest of the chickens. [Note: she did not go to roost in the coop with the other chickens tonight.]