One of the things we’ve learned on the farm is that animals die. Of course we knew that going in. Heck, with the exception of our egg layers, we’re raising chickens and pigs to sell for meat. But, it’s somehow different when you walk out to the garage and find a dead chick, or sometimes 4 or 5.
Up until a batch we received in late December, we had been having great luck with our chicks. At most we would have 1 or 2 die early on and the rest would do great. That changed when we received an order of 75 chicks. Due to the weather, the chicks didn’t arrive until 3 days after they hatched. As a result, one whole box (25 chicks) arrived dead and there were 8 dead in the other box. Needless to say, it was a blow. While we were reimbursed for the dead chicks, we still had to throw out over 30 dead baby chicks and our production schedule was thrown off by several weeks.
After that rough initial weekend, we regrouped and planned on raising the remaining 40 or so chicks. Unfortunately this just was not a healthy batch of chicks. For whatever reason, they were not thriving and growing as chicks normally do. Over the next 4 weeks, we lost over half the remaining chicks and were down to 18.
At this point we had to make a call. The remaining chicks were still not doing well and we needed their brooder for another batch of chicks coming in. We could either put the rest out of their misery, or we could move them outside and let nature take it’s course. We opted for the latter and sure enough we lost another 6 pretty quickly.
However, this is where the story gets good. The remaining 12 survived and started growing during some really cold weather. The cold temps didn’t seem to bother them and they started acting more like normal chicks. Then, about a week ago we noticed one of them walking funny. Upon closer examination we discovered she had lost all the toes on one of her feet and she was hopping around on one foot. That’s when Lynn announced her name was going to be “Stumpy”!
Again we had a choice to make. Put her down, or let her go and see what happens. As you might expect from the title of this post, we decided to take a wait and see approach. So far she’s proving to be a real survivor. Hopefully she and her surviving sisters will be joining our egg laying flock in the not too distant future. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.