Signs of Spring: Baby chicks arrive at feed store
Nearly 1,800 chicks have arrived at S and W Feed & Supply just in time for the first day of spring. And since the animal ordinance was updated last summer, Carson City residents are allowed to keep up to four female chickens or ducks.
“We paid for pullets (young females) so it’s at least 95 percent accurate that they’ll grow into hens,” said S and W employee Amy Stair.
The chicks are flown in from Texas as soon as they hatch so that the egg yolk they’ve been feeding on still provides them with nourishment during the trip, said store manager Belinda Chalk.
They are packed snugly together in covered ventilated cardboard flats – 100 to a box – during their journey.
“They need to be kept warm because cold is the leading cause of death in chicks,” she said. “We only lost one with this order.”
As Chalk and Stair worked quickly to gently lift chicks individually out of the box Friday morning, they dipped each beak first into the waterer, then into the feed tray to familiarize the chicks with their new environment.
Chicks are available in nearly a dozen types, including Rhode Island reds that lay brown eggs, buff brahmas that grow up to have fluffy feathers on their feet, barred rocks with black and white “stripes,” and leghorns which lay white eggs.
Also available are the Ameraucana that lays blue-green eggs.
Once home, the chicks need to be kept warm under a heat lamp for four to six weeks, and they are mature in four to six months, Chalk said, ready to help keep the lawn and garden free of insects while producing fresh eggs for the family.
Animal Services Director Pat Wiggins said there have been no problems since the small livestock ordinance was revised, and he has only received a few calls to verify details of the ordinance.
He asks parents not to fall into the trap of buying Easter animals for their children, who aren’t prepared to care for them throughout the animal’s life.
“Like any pet you buy or adopt, make sure you are prepared to care for this pet for its entire life,” Wiggins said.
“Before getting a bunny, chicky or ducky on an impulse, remember these are living creatures that will require loving care. This means a suitable home, healthy food and veterinarian care. These incredibly cute and cuddly pets are relying on you for their well-being,” he said.
Another thing people should keep in mind is that they need to have a backup plan in case one of their pullets turns out to be a rooster. Roosters are not allowed under the revised ordinance.