Our chicks are out in their pasture pen and they LOVE it! I've been watching the weather forecast and when we finally got a decent stretch of nice weather, we decided to move them outside. Tina and her brother, Mike, finished building the pen on Sunday morning and by 8 AM they were safely ensconced in their new home.
The first day they were pretty confused and spent the majority of their time camped out under the covered half of the pen. The food and water is located in that half, so it's probably no coincidence that they've chosen it as their favoured hang out spot. But by day two they were moving around and exploring much more - they even started scratching and pecking away at grass and bugs! They somehow seem more chicken-like now that they're out on pasture and it's nice to see them so happy.
Although the days are toasty warm, the nights are still a bit chilly, so we've strung an extension cord across the driveway and have rigged up a heat lamp in their pasture pen. Joel Salatin says his birds are usually ready for their pasture pens by three weeks but ours haven't finished feathering out and still have downy feathers on their heads. When you're raising hundreds or thousands of birds at a time hooking up a heat lamp for each shelter isn't really feasible. But when you've only got 21, it's not such a big deal and our little flock does seem much happier under their lamp when the sun goes down.
Yesterday my friend Dave from Thomas Reid Organic Farms came by to see how our birds are progressing. Aside from one chick who appeared to be feeling under the weather (we've moved her back into the brooder and she's still holding on), Dave said they all looked great. Tina and I don't have any frame of reference for this sort of thing, so it's nice to hear that we're doing a good job from someone who actually knows what they're talking about.