Goodbye Brooder, Goodbye (to some) Chicks

What with twenty-six teenage chickens and four Old Hens, the Little Barn was getting crowded.

It was getting crowded around the feeder.

crowded feeder

There wasn’t enough room on the outside roost for a quiet nap.

outside roost

At bedtime, the inside roost was filled and the Old Hens found their comfortable routine disturbed. (There’s Twinkydink, on the third bar up, being squeezed off of HER spot.)


The personalities of the new birds emerged, and it was clear to me which ones were right for the nursing home, and which would be going to another home, and which would stay here.


Dominique at 7 weeks

At nearly eight weeks of age, the chicks were fully feathered out and no longer needed the heat lamp or the confines of the brooder. It was time for half of them to go. A friend who lives two miles up the road has a flock of hens and a daughter with an egg business. She needed more layers. So, Ken came over yesterday and bought thirteen of the chicks. He knows what he’s doing, and they’ve already settled right in.

Meanwhile, I had a brooder to disassemble. As I’ve mentioned before, chicks create a fine dust of manure, bedding and feather dander. This is why you don’t want the chicks in your kitchen. I’ve swept the dust off of the feed can several times already, but look at it.

dusty brooder

I donned a mask. Trust me, you don’t want to sweep and clean and breath this stuff in.

dust mask

The fun and charm of having chicks in a brooder last less than a month;  the previous couple of weeks I was itching (literally) to reclaim my barn. It was so good to get the coop back in order. After I cleaned, Steve moved the cam back into the coop, so InsideCam is once again online.

cleaned up

Now there are twelve pullets (and one cockerel) and four Old Girls in the Little Barn. In one week, half of those youngsters are going to live at the nursing home. I’ll keep six. One way or another, Mr. Grumpy will be gone.

Twinkydink can’t wait. Betsy and Edwina are relieved.

old girls

But, I do think that Buffy enjoyed the hubbub. And the chick food.



  1. Oh, I do know the feeling. My chicks have been in the garage at night, and then outside in a temporary pen outside during the day for two weeks now. They are going on 9 weeks old and full of mischief! They have had enough of their confined space (and so have I!). My coop fence is finally up and they really need to be integrated with the big girls. But the chicks are bantams and they still look so little next to my full size hens. This is my first time moving new chicks in with an established group and I’m a nervous wreck – thus the delay. Any advice anyone?

    • Lynda, do everything just as you would for larger hens (see my FAQ about introducing new chickens) but for bantams make sure that they have high outside roosts, no tight corners that they can get trapped in, and it helps if they have a spot that they can fit into but the big hens can’t (for example, under nesting boxes.) They’ll be fine.

  2. At what age will you switch from chick food to layer bits?

    • I just bought one 50# bag of chick feed. When that’s done, I’ll switch over. I could keep feeding them the chick food up to 16 weeks, but I’d like the old hens to get back onto the pellets. See my FAQ about feeding chicks for more info.

  3. Do you always wear a mask when you are cleaning the coop/barn? I never do now I’m thinking I’m putting myself at risk?

    • I only wear a mask when I’m doing a deep cleaning. I don’t for weekly manure pickups. But, if you have respiratory issues or a comprised immune system, I certainly would.

  4. Thanks again Terry. I have copd and was planning on wearing a mask when applying the DE. Now I will use a mask with any cleaning involved. I love an orderly room when I’m working and I must say the coop looks very comfy and organized. I think Buffy will love the new chicks and bring new life to her…..seems to already have. :o)

  5. Our chicks are almost 7 weeks now, and we are just finishing up the coop this week. I cannot wait to get them out there! My garage is certainly cramped right now..

  6. Terry,
    I got a real kick out of your close up picture, wearing the mask……goes to show you that us 40-50 something aged urban poultry farmers, are secure in our personalities! That picture went around the world, you go girl! Hencam gets better and better! You are truly appreciated, thanks!

  7. Oh, but I miss peeping in on the chicks in the middle of the night. They were my insomnia cure! I am going to miss that litte camera hog Dominique. I can think of human celebrities who would love that much camera time. :-D She is a cutie. The nursing home is very fortunate to have you raising their chicks and taking such care to select sweet hens for them.

  8. I have a feeling Mr. Grumpy will end up in the soup pot and that will be the only way you find him a new home. But he will provide someone a new home. I wonder if the black sex link you will be keeping might decide to attach herself to Twinkydink.

  9. Every time I catch sight of the dominiques I feel so nostalgic for this time last year when mine looked just like that. Can’t believe mine are now a year old. When you said they were going to a friend I nearly asked if that friend was Ken but didn’t want to appear presumptuous. So glad they are going to someone who loves that breed.

    Looking forward to seeing how the nursing home chicks get on too and of course the ones you keep. It’s all so exciting.

      • I was sharing with Terry when I picked them up that I love this breed, mostly for the nostalgia.

        They’re hardy, and great layers, and of a reasonably mild go-along/get-along temperament. But not really any better or more special than any of the modern, hardy breeds. But they were so common in the north Georgia/Tennessee backyard flocks that I saw growing up, that I didn’t realize that they were a heritage breed til I went to get a few of my own. I always feel better about my flock with a few of them mixed in for good measure.

  10. Terri, you have done an admirable job of observing and caring for your new charges. And the nursing home is extremely lucky to have you on their side.

  11. I’m looking forward to the day when you get to list the new hens on the Who’s Who. I’m sure you’ve been working on just the right names. Fun for all of us on the other side of the fence.

    • I do love coming up with names. When I do school visits, I ask the kids for names. There’s always one child who thinks that I should name a chicken “Captain Underpants.” I’m tempted :)

  12. Is it too late to give “Mr. Grumpy” a new name? A funny, upbeat name like “Captain Underpants” may significantly improve his chances for adoption! :-)

  13. Love the mask, Terry! I have a picture just like that of me when I cleaned out the garage/brooder a couple of years ago. I didn’t realize how bad the dust was getting until I noticed my red car actually looked grey! Next time it’ll be an outdoor brooder.