“They’re super cute!” That’s what Marcus A., age 7, says about his 15 fuzzy little peeping chicks. Marcus lives out in the country not far from Harrison. His dad got the chicks the first week of May from a feed store and brought them home in his truck. He put them in a big steel stock tank, and it’s Marcus’ job to help feed them and keep their home clean. “They were just about a week old when we got them,” Marcus said. “We have Rhode Island Reds, Australorps and Easter Eggers.” They will all grow up to be laying chickens.
Easter Eggers, as Marcus explained, lay colored eggs, like green, pink and light brown. “We might have a rooster or two, but I think they’re probably all regular chickens. We keep the chicks in my shed. You always need to put a light on them. We use a bulb that has a dome around it that reflects the light. It has to be 95°. They huddle up together and that makes it even warmer. You put your hand over the light, it’s hot.”
Marcus checks on the chicks a couple of times a day to make sure they have enough food and water. They eat a special kind of feed for baby chickens. “They’re adorable,” he said. “They flap their wings and jump, and some of them squirm down under the other chicks and pop their heads out somewhere else, and go back down and pop their head out somewhere else — it’s pretty funny!”
He said that sometimes he holds them, but only occasionally “because one time I dropped one. He almost squirmed away. He was okay. I put him back in. They have to get used to us.” Marcus laughed when he described how “some of them actually peck their buddies’ eyes ‘cuz they’ve got, like bugs on them, or another chick has something stuck in their down and they actually peck the little bugs out of them, and then they eat it.”
When the babies grow up to be teenagers — at around three months old — “they’re ugly. It’s like they have feathers on their head but they still have their down as a chick on their back and behind.” At this stage, they’ll be released and on their own in the chicken coop. Marcus’ dad and grandfather built the coop with a fenced outdoor area where the chickens will live. “When it’s night, they’ll come inside so the coyotes can’t get them and eat them.”
He said his mom and dad have raised laying chickens before, and “we always had tons of eggs.” Once again, his job will be to collect the eggs. “It’s really cool living in the country,” he said.