Turning Off The Brooder

Yesterday a friend and her five year-old daughter stopped by. I asked if they would like to see the chicks. We stood by the pen, watching the birds. The mom and I were busy chatting when the little girl tugged on her mom’s pants and whispered, “where are the chicks?”

She was right. They certainly no longer look like chicks and they don’t have to be coddled like babies either. They’ve shed their down and have grown in hard outer feathers. They know to stand in a patch of sun on the compost pile to stay warm on a chilly morning.

in sun

They are big enough to eat out of the Old Girl’s feeder and sleep on the roosts.

in coop

They’ve already outgrown the brooder, which is falling down around them.


Yesterday morning, when I unplugged the heat lamp, It felt like a rite of passage. There’s a thick layer of manure-bedding-feather dust on everything. I can’t wait to move them out for good and clean up the coop. I’ll be doing that this weekend.

This transformation from chick to sturdy teenager happened in less than two months. Today the chicks are seven weeks old. Tomorrow, a dozen of the chicks will be going to a new home. Mr. Grumpy has yet to get a reprieve, but I heard about someone in town who just lost a rooster and needs a new one. I’m hoping it will be this Andalusian.

The five chicks selected for the nursing home will stay here for another week and a half. They’re the most naturally friendly of the lot, and I’ll be handling them frequently from now until May 29 so that they are well-mannered and calm for all of the people who are eager to interact with them at the nursing home. More about that in future posts!


  1. Been a great journey, Terry. The chicks are beautiful. Thanks for sharing such an important part of chicken keeping with everyone who watches the happenings at Little Pond. Your help with my introduction to chicken keeping has been priceless.

  2. PS- It also saddened me when you turned the heatlamp off. :(

    • I expected people to be worried, and also now that the light is off, all of my followers on the other side of the Globe now will have to be up in the middle of their night to see the animals. Sorry!

  3. It’s really amazing how quickly the tiny, fragile chick grows into a self sufficient hen. Mine are just about a month old now and will have their first trip out to the run this weekend.
    I am crossing all my crossables that Mr Grumpy finds a good home.

  4. It always makes me a little sad to put away the “nursery”….but I love when I get to clean up the mess! Mr. Grumpy is a fine looking roo…Prayers to St.Francis for a new home in town for him! P.S. Terry! LOVE your ORANGE CROCS! HeHe!

  5. We have 7 “chick” about a week older than yours and are now out in the coop doing all the regular chickeny things. However, they still don’t know to go into the henhouse at night so I have to pick them up and put them in each evening. Will they ever figure it out themselves?

    • They will figure it out. Mine already go inside when it gets dark. Look at it from their perspective – when it gets dark outside, is there enough light inside to see their way around? This is why windows are important. Is it large enough? If you have older hens, are they making the young ones unwelcome? There’s all sorts of variables.

  6. “Graduation Day”! Terry, thanks for sharing the journey.

  7. It’s hard to use the word chicks now, isn’t it? I remember being so excited to get the chicks out of the garage and into their new coop. The garage literally looked like a talcum powder bomb had gone off! : ) More work for Steve to move the camera again! Thanks Steve! My niece is graduating from high school next month – time for her to leave the brooder too! : )

    • What people don’t realize until they experience it is how sticky that brooder dust is. I’m going to wear a dust mask when sweep it out! Congrats on your niece’s graduation. I won’t tell her that you’ve compared her to a chicken :)

  8. Hope you will get a home for Mr. Grump. If worse, comes to worse you could always give him to someone who raises meat chickens, and he could make someone a good meal. Hope the young pullets will do well in their new homes. I doubt Mr. Grumpy’s bride will miss him very much or very long in a new home, and new areas to explore.