I woke up about 5:30 this morning and walked into the kitchen to start some coffee. I looked out the window and noticed it was raining. I was glad to see the rain but suddenly I remembered that our baby chicks which are about 3 weeks old were outside with no cover. We moved the baby chicks outside 2 days ago. They are in the pen with the adult hens, but are confined to a small holding pen, mostly to protect them from the adult hens. They have a light to keep them warm and their feeder and waterer, but I haven't made them a cover yet. I rushed out to their pen with a large umbrella to check on them. They were all huddled together but were soaking wet. Some of them were shivering so I ran and got the storage tote that had been their home for the previous 3 weeks. I started grabbing them and putting them in the box and noticed one of the smaller chicks was laying on the ground sprawled out. There are 3 chicks that are about 4 days younger than the rest and a little smaller. All the chicks were cold but seemed ok except the small one which had been sprawled on the ground. I carried them all inside in the storage tote and put 2 warming light on them. I took the little one in a towel and gently dried her as best I could. I sat on the floor near a small electric heater and held her close to the warm air to speed the drying. Her eyes were closed and I really didn't think she was going to make it. By this time K was up so she took over the ailing chick and I went to check on the others. They looked better already but were still wet and some shivering. I grabbed the other 2 small chicks which looked a little worse than the big ones and gave them to K.
She wrapped them all in a towel and held them close to the heater. After about a half hour the little ones (which are all Brown Leghorns) were looking a bit better. We set their towel on the floor near the heater and let them rest. The older chicks dried out completely under their heat lamp and were stretching their wings and preening their feathers. I poured some feed in their box and put in a small waterer. They started eating and drinking right away which made me feel much better. When I went to check on the brown leghorns they all lifted up their little heads which made me feel better again. After about an hour I moved the little ones into their own plastic tote and gave them one of the heat lamps, some food and water. They also began to eat, drink and preen. All the baby chicks look good now and are sleeping under their lights, warm and dry.
I plan to spend the rest of the morning making them a shelter in their holding pen. I may use some scrap wood or just cut a hole in the side of an inverted tote. I really just depends what I find in the scrap wood pile. I will probably let them stay inside in their totes today and and tonight and move them back outside tomorrow. Their getting bigger and have most of their feathers now. At their current size they are too crowded in the totes. They were really enjoying the outside, scratching playing and flying around their holding pen.
After they have been outside for a couple of weeks and are a little bigger, I plan to cut a hole in the bottom of their pen, which will allow them to explore the rest of the chicken pen. If (and when) they are threatened by the grown hens they can retreat back into their holding pen. This is how we have introduced previous baby chicks into our flock. When they are nearly grown I will take out the holding pen and they will find their natural place in the pecking order.
I don't know how I overlooked making them a shelter. I'll just blame it on the drought we've been under for the last couple of years. We normally get a lot of rain this time of year, but for the previous 2 years it was extremely dry. Anyway Im glad we didn't loose any chickens.