We decided to add to our flock this year, as we lost a number of hens during the drought last summer. In the past, we've gotten chicks from our local feedstore, or a local breeder, but this year we decided to order from McMurray Hatchery.
It may seem odd to get chicks in January, but we chose to order them now for two reasons: they need to have time to mature before it gets too hot, and many times the hatchery is sold out by mid-March. Keeping chickens sure is popular!
Chicks are sent immediately after they are born, via USPS. This may sound awful, but they can survive for about 2-3 days on energy from the egg yolk. Ours arrived yesterday at the post office around 9 a.m. - the post office called my husband, and I went to pick them up immediately. When I arrived, I could hear them peeping the moment I walked in the door! I told the postmaster that I was there to pick up the box making all the noise, and he gave me sort of a funny look, but went to fetch the box. I took them home and got them settled in their new digs:
We did have an unfortunate thing happen yesterday after I took them home. Sometime during the day while I was at work, the power tripped in the barn. We think it was the space heater that I left on, even though I had power cycled it several times just to make sure it would NOT trip the breaker. The heat lamps went off, and the poor little guys got really cold. Chicks need a constant temperature around 95 degrees for the first week of their lives, and yesterday it was only 60. By the time I got home and found them, four of them were cold and not moving, and the rest were huddled in a tiny ball, trying to stay warm. I rushed all of them into the bathroom in the house, turned on the heater and plugged in a heat lamp, and sat with them until the hubby got home. The four that were not moving I carefully held under the heat lamp, trying to warm them up. Two of them unfortunately did not make it, but the other two started to revive and kept improving. We continued to hold them and give them water for about four hours, and when we went to bed they were sleeping under a heat lamp. This morning they seem to be mostly recovered, although I won't feel completely comfortable until it's been a day or two and they are running around more with the others. I feel really bad that this happened - after surviving such a long trip, they didn't make it because we weren't careful enough. Lesson learned, and hopefully that will be the last problem we have!