I’ve written about receiving shipments of 52 pheasants in the US mail. From what I’ve read online at many of the hatchery sites, it seems that the smallest shipment is 25 birds. In this number, the birds generate enough body heat to survive there one or two day trip.
While raising pheasants for release requires one kind of pen, and management, I wanted to start slower with chickens. To start with, I want a small flock of laying chickens, no more than six. Fortunately, many farm and tractor stores bring checks and ducklings into the store in the spring.
In some cases, these chicks are destined to be abandoned because of well-meaning, but short thinking, parents who buy them as “cute” Easter presents.
For people looking to add to their flock or to start a small flock, feed stores, tractor stores, and farm supply stores are a good place to pick them up. I chose six chickens to start with. One black sex link, one red sex link, to buff orpingtons, and two barred rock. All of the chicks are pullets, with the possible exception of the two barred rock. The barred rocks were sold as “straight run” chicks, meaning they were not sexed by the hatchery. With my luck, they’ll be two roosters, but I would be happy if there were as one rooster, or they were both pullets.
According to Storey’s Guide, I may see eggs as soon as 16 weeks..If so, that’s August.
The tweets (Twitter) this week chronicled the anticipated arrival of 52 pheasant hen chicks. I thought they were shipping Tuesday, but instead, they shipped Wednesday and arrived Friday. Two travel days meant they might be stressed and indeed, 3 died in transit.
Just as I did with last year’s chicks, I place them in the brooder box built in the barn. This is now the third set of checks to be raised in the box and with each group, I think the box gets better. It’s still very heavy and I may build a different one for the July arriving pheasants. I think I learned some valuable lessons from last season.
I took the thousands from the box they ship and dipped their beaks in water. For the first few days I use paper towels for betting, as they grow bigger I’ll add straw. The temperature hit nearly 80° outside, and the chicks were plenty warm through most of the day and very active. Last night, we had a set of thunderstorms, and that was the beginning of a rough night of sleep.
Power to the router box runs through an extension cord from the main electrical service box. By design I placed it on a ground fault circuit. Somewhere before 2 AM, the ground fault circuit breaker tripped. When I checked the chicks, the warming light was out. I was able to reset the breaker and returned the cabin, but when I checked again at five, the breaker had tripped a second time.
Now awake, I am checking every half-hour. I added a space heater and lowered the lamp to increase the temperature and hopefully revive some of the chilly chicks.