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panicky chick?

 
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We brought home eight chicks (Easter Eggers and Salmon Faverolles) a week ago. Mostly they seem to be doing great, eating well, being super active and growing all kinds of feathers. There is one Easter Egger I am a little worried about. She is extremely active and very good at foraging. She has caught tons of worms and bugs when we take them on brief field trips to the yard. She was also the first to figure out dust bathing. But she is always chirping loudly if I am away from their brooder and calms down a bit when I show up. Whenever I open the door, she always tries to jump up on me and seems to want cuddles. She also jumps up when I'm away, maybe looking for me? She just always sounds so panicky. And she seems a little lighter weight compared to the others. Maybe she's burning off all her energy jumping and calling? Even when I go over to check on her, she seems super focused on me and doesn't go back to eating or whatnot.
She has also got herself into trouble a few times. Once getting her head stuck in a fence at high speed whilst playing keep away with a worm she caught. I think she overheated herself quite a bit in addition to the head bump. Another time, she tried to eat too big a piece of chickweed and got it stuck in her throat. That and nearly jumping out of the brooder many times. It doesn't seem that she is being picked on and she has so much energy, it seems unlikely she is sick. From my experience with wild birds, it mostly seems like juvenile begging behavior. But she's really the only one doing it on that level. It feels very stressful to hear and see. I just wonder what is going on with her and what I can do to help her calm down and focus more on food and being a chicken with her sisters. Any thoughts or ideas? Maybe I'm worrying too much, but this is my first time keeping chickens so I just don't really know what's normal or not yet.
 
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Hi Heather,
I am far from an expert, so I hope someone else who is an expert will weigh in, but I wanted to take a stab at relieving your fears. In my opinion, she does not sound like she is in any danger. My gut is that she has bonded to you the way a chick would bond to its mother. That is probably why the chick is coming to see you and seems stressed when you leave. Someone with more experience will have to confirm if there is any health risk there, but I doubt it. As for the extra energy, I would count that a good thing. Chickens do have a pecking order, and there will always be someone at the bottom. It is hard when you feel sorry for the lowest member, but someone has to be there. If you remove that chicken, someone else will become the lowest. If she is the lowest, it would explain being a bit smaller and being "picked on". You might try spreading the food into more than one location, as the higher up on the pecking order get to eat first.

From your description it does not sound like it, but generally chicks peep in a "panicky" way when they are cold, hungry, or thirsty. It wouldn't hurt to double check food, water, and heat. Some breeds can be pretty loud just when they are "talking", but I'm not familiar with Easter Eggers or Salmon Faverolles to know how loud they tend to be.

It sounds like you are off to a good start keep with it. I will warn you that Chickens can be addicting. I was going to start with a few... and that ended up being 32 chickens. Then a greenhouse for them in the winter, and this spring I've been dealing with broody hens hatching out some chicks. It just kind of kept growing

**Edit** I missed that you said it did NOT seem like this chick is being picked on. Sorry. However, as long as the chick is moving around and getting around, I wouldn't be too worried if the chick is a bit lighter weight.
 
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with my chicks, as long as i can see that they are eating, drinking, and pooping there's not much I worry about with their activity or behaviors before they "grow up" unless it's a really obvious problem like flesh wounds (which I haven't personally encountered).  If they're too cold they will bunch up together, if they're too hot they will lay down with wings starting to spread away from body and pant, adjust heat in these situations, I keep the heat lamp at one edge of the brooder so they can move into the warm zone and away into the cooler zone to self regulate.  

As for size, there is natural variation in size.  Unless you have some very serious way to be sure - there is always the chance a single chick of a different breed snuck into your flock (and/or it could be a rooster).  I once ended up with a single white leghorn in with a group containing 3 other breeds of large colorful layers, as they matured it became 100% obvious that she was different in many many ways, this explained not only her different size, but also very different temperament.  I now keep Icelandics which vary in size and temperament from hatching on throughout maturity.

My advice is enjoy the chicks, don't worry too much and as they grow up most of the questionable chick stuff sorts itself out - especially once they start crowing.

congrats on the new birds!
 
Heather Sharpe
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Matt McSpadden wrote: I am far from an expert, so I hope someone else who is an expert will weigh in, but I wanted to take a stab at relieving your fears. In my opinion, she does not sound like she is in any danger. My gut is that she has bonded to you the way a chick would bond to its mother.

From your description it does not sound like it, but generally chicks peep in a "panicky" way when they are cold, hungry, or thirsty. It wouldn't hurt to double check food, water, and heat. Some breeds can be pretty loud just when they are "talking", but I'm not familiar with Easter Eggers or Salmon Faverolles to know how loud they tend to be.

It sounds like you are off to a good start  keep with it. I will warn you that Chickens can be addicting. I was going to start with a few... and that ended up being 32 chickens. Then a greenhouse for them in the winter, and this spring I've been dealing with broody hens hatching out some chicks. It just kind of kept growing.


Thank you, Matt! I appreciate the effort to relieve the fears and that all helps to hear. I think your gut may be right. Seems she wants to be a shoulder chicken as that's where she tries to go every time. I don't let her though, since she might fall.

I don't think they're cold or lacking food or water. They have a brooder plate for heat and are usually out and go back under from time to time. If anything, seems maybe it was too hot for awhile, as they were sleeping half way out from under it all spread out. But I've since raised it. I do somewhat wonder if having tasted bugs and weeds, she's discontent with their starter feed. She doesn't do any of the panicky behaviors when they get weeds or dirt to play in.
I can absolutely see that they are addicting. I haven't gotten hardly anything done other than tending and watching them since we got them. And I find myself constantly looking for more bugs and weeds for them. And we're already building a high tunnel greenhouse for them for winter.

C West wrote:with my chicks, as long as i can see that they are eating, drinking, and pooping there's not much I worry about with their activity or behaviors before they "grow up" unless it's a really obvious problem like flesh wounds (which I haven't personally encountered).  If they're too cold they will bunch up together, if they're too hot they will lay down with wings starting to spread away from body and pant, adjust heat in these situations, I keep the heat lamp at one edge of the brooder so they can move into the warm zone and away into the cooler zone to self regulate.  

As for size, there is natural variation in size.  Unless you have some very serious way to be sure - there is always the chance a single chick of a different breed snuck into your flock (and/or it could be a rooster).  I once ended up with a single white leghorn in with a group containing 3 other breeds of large colorful layers, as they matured it became 100% obvious that she was different in many many ways, this explained not only her different size, but also very different temperament.  I now keep Icelandics which vary in size and temperament from hatching on throughout maturity.

My advice is enjoy the chicks, don't worry too much and as they grow up most of the questionable chick stuff sorts itself out - especially once they start crowing.

congrats on the new birds!


Thank you for the advice and reassurance, C West! One of the Faverolles did have a pecked toe, but soap and water took care of the tiny drop of blood and we were able to put her back after it was cleaned up.

That is a good point about natural variation and the chance of being either a different breed or a rooster. Especially with Easter Eggers being mutts of a sort, there could be lots of variation. She does act rather different than the other three Easter Eggers. Though one of them will sometimes join her in calling for me. I briefly wondered if she might be a rooster, as I would see her find bugs and seem to show the others rather than eat it herself, but now she just runs off with them. Would a rooster be smaller than hens at this age?

They are so much fun! Seeing all their little personalities develop and watching them discover how to be chickens is amazing! Thank you!
 
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I had a chick who was a "Momma's Girl" like that. She was also the smartest one and the first to try new foods. She's 5 years old now and still my favorite. And she knows it, too!

I'd say give her cuddles when you can, and put a screened lid on the brooder when you're not going to be nearby.
 
Heather Sharpe
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:I had a chick who was a "Momma's Girl" like that. She was also the smartest one and the first to try new foods. She's 5 years old now and still my favorite. And she knows it, too!

I'd say give her cuddles when you can, and put a screened lid on the brooder when you're not going to be nearby.


Thank you, Ellendra! That helps to hear you had a similar experience. Our little Bluebell does seem to be quite clever and is definitely the first to try new things and foods. She probably is my favorite...don't tell the others!

She is getting as many cuddles as I can give. Interestingly, sometimes even when I cuddle her, she still peeps, though in a less distraught way. The brooder is a modified dog crate, so there is a cover already, luckily. Just have to block her jumping out when I open it.

 
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Heather Sharpe wrote:We brought home eight chicks (Easter Eggers and Salmon Faverolles) a week ago. Mostly they seem to be doing great, eating well, being super active and growing all kinds of feathers. There is one Easter Egger I am a little worried about. She is extremely active and very good at foraging. She has caught tons of worms and bugs when we take them on brief field trips to the yard. She was also the first to figure out dust bathing. But she is always chirping loudly if I am away from their brooder and calms down a bit when I show up. Whenever I open the door, she always tries to jump up on me and seems to want cuddles. She also jumps up when I'm away, maybe looking for me? She just always sounds so panicky. And she seems a little lighter weight compared to the others. Maybe she's burning off all her energy jumping and calling? Even when I go over to check on her, she seems super focused on me and doesn't go back to eating or whatnot.  


Howdy!
Welcome to the wonderful world of chicken keeping!
The first ones are always special and will color your opinion of chickens forever after. Trust me. Been there. Haven't written the book, yet, but may eventually. (It's actually become a bonding thing for me and my Mother-in-law because we can "talk chickens" for hours.)

I LOVE Salmon Faverolles. Haven't raised any myself, but they are close relatives of the Dorking family (all those 5 toed chickens are so cool!), and I love the coloration. Right now, our only white/tinted egg layers and 5 toed chickens are the Dorkings, which will make it easier when I start hatching from our flock. Beautiful birds. (They don't pine for the fjords, though.)

Easter Eggers are mutts. Now, the hatcheries I have been working with do have varying genotypes in their flocks. It can help, but you also need to keep in mind where your chicks come from. The good and the bad - I have gotten Easter Eggers that are very true to the Ameraucana phenotype and are brilliant chickens, and I have 2 from a different hatchery with a similar muff setup but different coloration who a year younger, are smaller, more active, and more brave/bold. For whatever reason all of my Easter Eggers seem to lay green eggs, and only in three or so colors, so there's a thing that's interesting.

The lighter birds have a higher egg lay rate, which implies a more egg laying focus of the foundation breeds used.
General information, and because I think you can't know too much about the How of Things Work - Easter Eggers are a mix, sometimes considered gene stable, that have a varying appearance and varying egg color. The egg color being the primary definition of the breed/type, it is the actual definition of the breed - i.e. while you will be told that an Easter Egger might lay any egg color from white, to dark brown, to shades of blue, the fact that there are such differences is the key selling point and reason why people select these birds. There are very few white and brown egg layers in an Easter Egger flock. There would be no point for it.
IMG_20200704_102650_01.jpg

Okay. All Easter Eggers have a brown egg layer and a blue egg layer in the direct line. Roosters with a brown egg layer background (as Dad, if I'm remembering my reading correctly) will tend to sway the egg color towards that particular shade of brown. That's where you get the sage greens and pinkish eggs. If Dad is from a blue egg layer, you're going to see more of the pale greens, "true" greens, and blue overtones.
It's very cool stuff.
IMG_20210415_161313391.jpg

Now, adding any other rooster as part of the foundation flock is going to mix things up more. It also helps to stabilize the genes, but that's not generally a factor for backyard raisers. It does, however, have an impact in potential phenotypes in your birds.
In other words, Grandpa set the egg color, Dad and Mom set the size, rate of lay, and personality.
Lighter birds - Mediterranean types and breeds more "egg laying/dual purpose" as opposed to "meat producing/dual purpose" are going to have more of the behavior of the lighter breeds. It works the other way, too. But, so you know the difference, While Dorkings and Faverolles are fairly closely related, Dorkings are more "matronly" and "solid", pretty much looking like feathered bricks. Faverolles are lighter in body, looking more like their egg laying relatives - leghorns and other Med. breeds.
20180329_125211.jpg
20180606_110737.jpg
IMG_20201022_090548704.jpg

Your Easter Egger, being smaller and "lighter" than her clutch mates is probably just more egg laying focused. She also has more of that "too smart" thing going. She will be more of a cuddle bird, and will, more likely than not, lay more eggs than her clutch mates.    

IMG_20200704_102650_01.jpg
Mix of eggs from my hens
Mix of eggs from my hens
IMG_20210415_161313391.jpg
All the variation from my hens - greens (Easter Eggers) and browns (almost everyone else) the white/tinted are Dorking eggs
All the variation from my hens - greens (Easter Eggers) and browns (almost everyone else) the white/tinted are Dorking eggs
20180606_110737.jpg
Dorkings - you can see the squared off "shoulders" that show the breed is not primarily egg focused
Dorkings - you can see the squared off "shoulders" that show the breed is not primarily egg focused
20180329_125211.jpg
Dorking chicks because they are adorable
Dorking chicks because they are adorable
IMG_20201022_090548704.jpg
A Dorking hen (middle) and two Easter Eggers
A Dorking hen (middle) and two Easter Eggers
 
Kristine Keeney
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And - Howdy!
I realized that I was having fun sharing chicken pictures, but hadn't answered your questions.
Chicks peep. If you look up a hatchery site, or check my YouTube, there are videos of peeping chicks. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wns7mexb6Aw)
They can be noisy things.

Chickens make all kinds of noises, and will peep throughout their lives. The "see what I found" call is a good sign for a potential mom, and doesn't necessarily mean the chick is male. Hens do it for their chicks - same call.

There's a 90-95% chance any pullet (younger than a year old) female chicken is a female chicken. Once they start to develop their combs, you'll be able to start seeing the differences, plus roosters will start behaving like roosters pretty early. They will start trying to crow as early as three weeks and will sound pitiful about it, but they are adorable.

Unless your peeping takes a turn for frantic and truly high pitch, there's no problem. You can hear a difference between "Mom, can I have a cookie?" and "There's a MONSTER!"
Good luck and I hope you are feeling more confident with your little cuties!
 
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The first time we raised chicks in our kitchen, I was sick to death of their noise.  They were so LOUD!  I was so glad when they were old enough to go outside for good.  Then a few years and batches of chicks later, one of our hens went broody so we gave her some eggs to hatch instead.  I then learned that loud cheep actually means "MUM!  Where's my mum?  MUUUMMMM!!"  They only make it when separated from their mother; their happy/relaxed call is just a soft little peep.  

However, some chicks are just louder than others;  our little broody hen raised some brown Leghorns one year and we named that batch The Cheeps because that's all they did--I was glad Cookie was looking after them, not me!  
 
Kristine Keeney
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G Freden wrote:The first time we raised chicks in our kitchen, I was sick to death of their noise.  They were so LOUD!  I was so glad when they were old enough to go outside for good.  Then a few years and batches of chicks later, one of our hens went broody so we gave her some eggs to hatch instead.  I then learned that loud cheep actually means "MUM!  Where's my mum?  MUUUMMMM!!"  They only make it when separated from their mother; their happy/relaxed call is just a soft little peep.  

However, some chicks are just louder than others;  our little broody hen raised some brown Leghorns one year and we named that batch The Cheeps because that's all they did--I was glad Cookie was looking after them, not me!  


Howdy!
I love having the chicks in the kitchen, even if it makes for an awful mess. I get to spend that much more time getting used to them, and them getting used to me.
Right now I have 6 Hoover Hatchery "Mystic Marans", all feathered out and so very, very bored. They are making sleepy chicken trills and waiting for me to start shutting things down.
As soon as things dry up outside, they'll be heading to the outdoor "introduction pen", in the shade, where they'll get to see and be seen by the flock.
I also have to put High Jump in the freezer. No repeats of last year's damaged hens or pullets! (I try very hard to make each mistake only once. It makes things easier, but I have learned that there are many, many mistakes that can be made!)

Come August, there'll be 16 chicks - three large totes worth of chicks. I know it's not necessarily the most efficient way to raise birds, but I like the process of watching them grow up, passing through each of the stages until they are more than ready to be on their own. Kind of. Sometimes.
Best thoughts to all of us on this busy Wednesday evening.
IMG_20210519_082805235.jpg
6 Mystic Marans very glad their nickname is "The Nuggets", not really understanding what it means
6 Mystic Marans very glad their nickname is "The Nuggets", not really understanding what it means
 
Heather Sharpe
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Kristine Keeney wrote:Howdy!
Welcome to the wonderful world of chicken keeping!
The first ones are always special and will color your opinion of chickens forever after. Trust me. Been there. Haven't written the book, yet, but may eventually. (It's actually become a bonding thing for me and my Mother-in-law because we can "talk chickens" for hours.)

I LOVE Salmon Faverolles. Haven't raised any myself, but they are close relatives of the Dorking family (all those 5 toed chickens are so cool!), and I love the coloration. Right now, our only white/tinted egg layers and 5 toed chickens are the Dorkings, which will make it easier when I start hatching from our flock. Beautiful birds. (They don't pine for the fjords, though.)

Easter Eggers are mutts. Now, the hatcheries I have been working with do have varying genotypes in their flocks. It can help, but you also need to keep in mind where your chicks come from. The good and the bad - I have gotten Easter Eggers that are very true to the Ameraucana phenotype and are brilliant chickens, and I have 2 from a different hatchery with a similar muff setup but different coloration who a year younger, are smaller, more active, and more brave/bold. For whatever reason all of my Easter Eggers seem to lay green eggs, and only in three or so colors, so there's a thing that's interesting.
........
Your Easter Egger, being smaller and "lighter" than her clutch mates is probably just more egg laying focused. She also has more of that "too smart" thing going. She will be more of a cuddle bird, and will, more likely than not, lay more eggs than her clutch mates.    



Howdy Kristine! Thank you for all the info and perspective! Sorry for my extremely belated response. These peeps have been keeping me busy! I have definitely become completely obsessed with chickens already.

I love the Salmon Faverolles! They are such ridiculous characters. I liken them to some kind of Muppet chickens, both in looks and behavior.  The Dorkings are adorable!

All the information on Easter Egger genetics and heritage is helpful and interesting! They are certainly diverse chickens. We have one that's white and huge, a black one that's a little smaller and two that are a mixture of brown, orange and black speckles. It's one of the speckled ones that was panicky. Bluebell has calmed down quite a bit, but is still the first to jump up on me given the chance. Sometimes she still sounds upset when she's peeping. Definitely a cuddle bird, as well as very into foraging. She's almost stubborn about it, really. When they're outside, if there's the choice between a dish of food and hunting for bugs and plants, she always picks the latter while the others devour the easy food. Hopefully this isn't cause she's being picked on. I'm still a bit worried about her as she and the other similar looking one, Harriet, are much smaller than the other Easter Eggers. They're seven weeks old today. Bluebell weighs 6.2 ounces, Harriet weighs 7.1. In comparison, the big white one weighs 15.3 ounces and the black one is 12.6. Bluebell and Harriet act healthy and normal. That just seems like such a huge difference for them to be half the weight of the others. Does that seem normal and possibly just the result of them having a different heritage than the larger two? Or should I be concerned? I have started feeling their crops periodically to be sure they're eating well. And sneaking them some extra bugs.

I worry a little they might be getting picked on. Or will be since they're so small. I see the others sorting out their pecking order. I have never seen Bluebell or Harriet challenging the others and only occasionally get pecked at. I often see them hanging out near and/or cuddling with the Faverolle who I believe is the head hen. That does put me a bit more at ease, since she seems very good at intervening if she sees overly aggressive behavior. Watching them develop their social structure is fascinating, if a little hard to understand what I'm seeing sometimes.

Any thoughts on whether their being so much smaller is just how they are or possibly a cause for concern would be greatly appreciated!
 
Heather Sharpe
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Here's a picture of the two little ones, if that helps. I may try to get a picture that shows their size relative to the bigger ones, if the chickens cooperate.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
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