This past Sunday was Easter and the whole week leading up to this day was a big mess at the local farm store where I work. It’s really a big mess for any retail store that sells bunnies, chicks and ducks. Let me start with the week leading up to the Saturday before Easter Sunday. On Monday, we received a small shipment of assorted birds from a hatchery, mostly a few bantam chicks and guineas. The crew and I spend all week caring for these birds and getting ready for the mother load shipment that is coming in on Friday. All Friday morning we wait for the phone call from the post office to come in saying that our birds are ready to be picked up. This is a big deal because one time the post office somehow lost 700 peeping little chicks and by the time that they did call it was too late and about 95 percent of the chicks were lost. Friday we receive 1,200 two to three day old birds, on top of Mondays order and the chicks that we already had. We had chicks, ducks, and about 100 turkeys. We ran out of cage room and had to start putting them in bedded water troughs. Getting in birds is always a handful and is a first priority when they come in the front door. Animals are so different from any other sort of merchandise at any store, although it is not the only kind of merchandise that can die, plants die too. Chicks are just different, once they get sick they are pretty hard to get rolling again, especially when getting them in mass quantities.
Chicks that come in from a hatchery are shipped over night. These birds need to be introduced to a warm environment with food and water as quickly as possible. This is why it is an all hands on operation when they come into the store. One way that we give all of our chicks the best advantage is by adding a vitamin and mineral supplement to their water and by turning off the sliding door that is near the cages. The supplemented water can give them a kick after a long ride and by keeping the door closed we are able to keep as much heat in as possible. Chicks should be kept in an area with a temperature of at least 90 degrees.
Our cage system is set up with automatic waters, we have a 25 gallon tank up above their heads and this feeds the water down to nipples that are in each pen. Some people say that baby chicks do not know how to use these nipples but in fact they do and you can see them using them when they first get let lose in the new environment. However this water system is not very friendly with adding the vitamins packets so we fill quart waters with vitamins and put them in each pen for the first day or two until the chicks are really thriving.
Now I have you caught up with the process of getting our chicks in the store and ready to sell, I can tell you about my stink with Easter. Animals do not make good presents. Probably by the end of the week and definitely by next week we will start receiving calls from people who will want to bring back their animals because little Johhny or Sue cannot handle the animal. Parents do not understand that the peeping will not stop and that bunnies have sharp nails they can scratch with. When I started my Saturday morning shift we had at least 20 little bunnies in the store because you know that you have to keep up with the demand and when I left we had less than 5. On the Monday after Easter I sold the last little bunny to a lady that said she could not find any bunnies at all in her area, she drove about an hour to get this one. Bunnies live 8 to 12 years and as there are many pros to having one as a pet including that they are quite and can live indoors or outdoors with proper shelter, bunnies also create massive amounts of feces and have sharp nails.
Chickens can also live for about 8 years but they require more care when you purchase them as a baby. Chicks and other fowl need to constantly have a heat lamp going until they are completely feathered. Chicks are better in pairs or more and are noisy. This is something that people do not think about when they purchase a chick or duck as an Easter present. These tiny animals can go all night long and if you do not have the proper place to put them outside of the home you will be able to hear them all through the house. One other thing to worry about are city ordinances. Since the fresh eggs and organic trend is on the rise many cities have changed ordinances and will allow a homeowner to have a few hens as backyard pets, but please check before you buy because otherwise you may spend lots of time and all the startup costs of starting a small flock with your youngsters to just have to get rid of them the first time you let them out into the back yard.
Bunnies and chicks can make amazing pets and have lots of different uses other than just for a pet, but you need to be very careful before purchasing. Make sure that all your homework is done about the animal and that you know you have the commitment to these animals.