Okay, I will show the first setup I had, as well as the one I have right now that is working for me.
Here is the main setup in the beginning - a few days ago at least.
I had to cut this out of another pic I used in the second to last blog. As you can see I only have the 3-in-1 lamp on top in the beginning. That lamp includes a [day] heat lamp and a night heat lamp that simulates the moonlight. I switch to the night light before I turn them off at night because the light is still too bright for the babies to sleep properly. I try to give them as much of a normal time as possible. I use the light outside as my guide. As the sun sets, that is when the lights changed, etc. But, at the same time I need to make sure that the temp stays correct for them.
Also, in the above pic you can see that it is basic. It allows them to have the optimal amount of room in the cage that way. I constantly try to allow them as much room as possible, while at the same time, I try to give them an area for sleep, as well as an area for play. That way, they do not get bored. And they always have something to do.
As you can see above though, when my [day] heat lamp blew out (I don't have the $ to replace it) I enlisted the help of my Sun Glo light bulb for the aquarium. It's a low enough wattage that it won't get too hot, while at the same time it is high enough that in turn, it does provide quite enough heat. You can't see it too well, unless you look, in any of the pics, but I also have a thin towel that I am able to drape over the top to conserve more heat in the tank to be able to heat it more, or less, depending on how the towel is draped over the tank. In the shot above, I actually have it down, I think it was hot that day, so I had to have my window cracked (no draft near them though) on the opposite side of the aquarium that they are in, heater vent closed off, door open, so that it would cool off in my room. It's a virtual sauna in my room otherwise.
This will be the larger size for them. Ignore my ramblings. I'll still be modifying things as I need to and I was just 'thinking' through with words. Half the things I won't be doing. Though, as you can see, I will have an open area so that they are able to go and come from the top to bottom, but I have to modify it so that once up, or down, they are able to stay. They'll need the room to walk up and down, the room to move about, etc. Otherwise, I may just make a large enough top (it will be overhanging) so that I don't need the bottom. However, the top portion will be able to be moved about. That way, it will be able to be put into the main coop so that Lily will slowly be able to get used to them, while they still have a safety zone from her.
This is the aquarium stand I will be using. Pic looks funny because I had to copy and paste two different shots together. Otherwise, the shot wouldn't be close enough.
This stand is an old stand that used to house my dad's old 55 gallon (?) aquarium so it's quite heavy duty and large - heck, it's hard to move around since it's so heavy! He used to breed Angelfish. I still have a few weeks before the babes will need this, and as you see, I have to make sure that they top gets worked on. It has some rust spots from being outside for so long - I've been using it for a flower pot stand. But, I realized that after the chicks are integrated into the main coop, then I will either be able to use it for my parakeet on the warm days, to be outside, or I can use it as a place for flowers. Won't need to modify too much.
The Interior ...
This is the before shot. As you can see. I tried to have the bowl of food simply a bowl of food, but then I had the problem with them thinking that they needed to kick around the food and it would get into the water. So then I had to place a long index card next to food dish. Tucked the end under, taped the edge to the aquarium wall (never had a prob with them picking on it luckily). Worked pretty well. They liked to get water on it, so I did need to replace it though, but it worked! For the time.
The water bowl in this picture, you can see that it has the upside down bowl
employed. They enjoy it, as you can see in previous blogs, they do quite enjoy playing around on it. [rolls eyes] Kids :p
I am using the plastic limb that my brother had for the gecko in his aquarium. It is bendable and durable. It's a reptile designed limb so that it can't be chewed by the chicks, but they sure enjoy pecking at it. Don't do damage - I've watched them - but they find it fun. Keeps them from being bored. Everytime that I clean the cage, I rebend it into a different position so that it's new for them. Their cage gets overhauled - they really enjoy helping me too much! - every two to three days, but I constantly scoop their little poopies every few hours, depending on when it needs it, I go in there, etc., etc., etc. I allow some poopies in there, just so that it's not too clean for them since I think it does them good to have some dirt, but I still try to maintain a clean enviroment so they don't get sick. The limb is also a soft material so it doesn't hurt their feet, while at the same time it's actually pretty hard. Helps them learn to roost. My chicken outside will. not. roost. I don't care what I try, what I use, Lily (her sisters did the same) will. not. roost. Pain! :)
There is also - you can see the colorful thing? - a parakeet toy in it. I hook the center circle around one of the smaller branches on the toy, then they can play with it. They enjoy ringing the bell - Lily has a mirror outside she enjoys looking into - and picking at the litte pieces that are designed to keep the bird entertained by spinning around. They are colorful enough to attract the attention as well. That two, gets moved about as the cage gets cleaned.
Already, I am trying to integrate Lily with the chicks, even though they can't actually get near her - too cold - and same to her, I try to do little things. The feathers that I collected from the house when the chickens molted last year I used in the stuffed toys I gave the chicks to snuggle. They are clean and I know that they ar safe for the chicks since they've been inside and inside this house. Otherwise, I wouldn't have given the feathers to them. When I clean out the cloth diapers, and pillowcase at the bottom of the cage, I place them outside in the house where Lily sleeps, and on top of the stuffed bear I gave her to snuggle at night since her sister passed away. That way, she has their smell close to her. The last time I did that I think she yanked it down to lay upon. Not quite sure. Could've just walked across it and it fell, but it looks like she moved it. I'm pretty sure I heard her the other day respond to their sounds. I heard her starting talking soon after one of them made a loud sound, so I think she responded to them. Which is a good sign.
Continuing on ...
I give them some pine shavings (never cedar - it can cause problems in any small animal; rats, birds, chickens, reptiles, etc.) so that the poopies will stick to it (chickens pee and poop - like any bird - in the same moment, it all turns to one little circular splat! sometimes fun shapes :p) and it makes it easier to clean up. Then, I drop some of their food around. I was worried that they wouldn't understand the concept of eating out of their bowl, but they seem to be going okay with it. But, I do that so that they, again, have something to keep entertained. Outside Lily is constantly walking around and pecking, investigating, etc., so I try constantly to make the same thing for the chicks. They way hens raise their chicks is also how I try to handle the chicks. I pay attention to it, then use as similar of route as possible.
Other side for old version.
Once again, you can see on this side that I have the baby diaper (old cloth kind) on top of the heating pad. There you can see the wire leading up to the control, as well as the temp gauges. The black wire is one temp gauge, the other is the red circle. All wires are safe from harming the babes. I have constant attention and awareness on each item inside the cage. Basically, I am a fantic, worried momma ;) I go to bed worrying that something that hasn't happened in the past week will all of a sudden happen and I will wake up to dead chicks, or when I come back to the room - same thing. Oi!
In the beginning you see, I have only the one small stuffed dog thing with some of the feathers dropped last year shoved into its neck. The babies like grooming the feathers, but they just love climbing all over them and under and sleeping with. More entertainment! :) Everything is a game for them.
New/Current setup ...
'Scuse the water on the wall, they seem to think they need to splash it about :p
Now, as you can see, I've since taken the divider up, they do a good job of keeping it fairly clean now, I've moved around the limb, bent it so that it sits on the ground now, and they think they need to run and get in the shot ;)
Food bowl was made same as water bowl. Smaller upside down bowl in the bigger one. When I do the water, I get the bowl to stay correctly by filling up the smaller one, then as I hold it upright, I place the bigger upside down and on top of the smaller one. Then, when I flip, holding the two together, it creates a vacuum and the small stays stuck on top of the bigger bowl. Then I simply fill it up sightly with clean water. The small bowl stays stuck in place by vacuum suction.
They enjoy their toy :D
Their bed area now has another stuffed animal with more feathers. I'll be eliminating the smaller one since they are getting bigger and need that tiny bit extra room. I have some shavings on there as well, again for cleaning purposes, but also to add a little extra warmth to the bedding area.
As you can see Amara has become a ham. Literally. Look at her pudgy little backside :p I think she enjoys helping momma the most. And help they do. Try and clean the cage! They all start chortling away and are right under my fingers. It takes me long enough just to move them out of my way to move things around :p
Under the baby diaper I also have a washcloth, as well as a cloth under the heating pad. That way it is controlled warmth. They can't get too hot at night, but the heating pad on low allows them to stay warm during the night since that is all they have.
A nice little sandwich. You can see the very first (bottom) white cloth, then the heating pad (hard to see), the red washcloth on top of the pad, then the baby diaper.
Overall, these little bugs are quite active. They frequently take naps that consist of minute bursts. Sometimes 5 minutes. But otherwise, they are up and about all day long. Come bedtime, the bantams, in the beginning, were no problem. They'd go to their little spot and collapse. The New Hampshires in the beginning were scared to death. They'd see the light go off and cry themselves to sleep. Tried loving them, talking to them, then just realized that they needed to figure it out on their own.
And yes, this is my first time that I am raising baby chickens. I've been raising chickens for a year. But please note, I read and read a lot! I spend time, even now, reading up books on my animals. I am constantly learning new things that work, to try. I practice trial and error frequently. One thing I won't do is do something to my animals that I wouldn't want someone do to me. I don't care what it is. Even now, after raising dogs my entire life I learn and read up on them. Even if I've read the same info a thousand times, I'll re-read it. I never stop learning. Simple as that. So yes, as hard as it is raising baby chicks, it's easy in the sense that before, during and after I read anything I can get my hands on. I ask for help constantly. I learn new techiniques, alternative techniques and everything in-between. I advocate that for anyone wanting an animal. Learn everything you can before you get the animal. Makes it so much easier! Tip for the day - anyone considering an Australian Shepherd? They shed! And shed, and shed, and shed, and ...
As always, any questions, just ask in the comments. You'll see an answer in the next blog I do.
What do they eat?