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#RaisingPoultry :: Incoming!

This blog post was originally drafted and posted by Lauren Arbogast of Paint The Town Ag. It is part of a blog series dedicated to #raisingpoultry. In the series, Lauren walks us through how poultry is raised in the United States – from start to finish.

Lauren and her family raise chickens and cows in beautiful Virginia. Check out the original blog post, and Lauren’s Twitter and Facebook pages.


It’s a day not unlike Christmas at our house. Or at least birthday status. The day the chicks arrive is certainly one for the books. The mini farmers race to be the first ones to whichever house is being delivered, where they do their best to “help” get the chicks out of the boxes and into their new residence. {Help is defined veeeerrry loosely in this context.} Pretty soon they have armfuls of yellow fluff lining their arms and even little heads sticking out of their sweatshirt pockets. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. If you missed a look at their egg-encased existence at the hatchery prior to getting to us, check that out here.

The party peep bus arrives at a scheduled time, on a scheduled day from the hatchery. Farmer has the house all set up after his run as a maid service / mattress connoisseur / caterer / butler / IT guru / healthcare provider, and the buildings are waiting at a tropical 92 degrees. When I first met Farmer and fell head over heels for poultry, the chicks were delivered on a literal retrofitted, climate controlled school bus. We used to joke that the peeps were coming to school. {Yes, that’s funny for a former school teacher.} Now they arrive on a multi-layered party bus that is also climate controlled and designed specifically for transporting small little fluffballs. It’s not near as fun as watching a school bus roll onto the farm, but the newly designed trucks are more ergonomically efficient for the workers. Happy workers = happy peeps.

Retrofitted school bus delivering peeps.

The peeps are taken off the delivery truck by a forklift-type-thingie (try not to be too impressed by my mechanical vocabulary) that carries them in their stacked trays through the large front door to the front half of the house. The house is split in half at this point, with a curtain and fence separating the warm half (front) from the cool half (back). The little biddies don’t need all the space that the full house provides at this moment, and it’s more practical to keep them warm and together while they get to know each other and their new environment. The stack of trays are set down by the forklift and the trays of fluff are unloaded by hand. This is where the mini farmers think that they are of UTTER necessity. The delivery guys usually humor them and give them a tray to unload by themselves. Count is pure joy my friends, pure joy.

As the peeps are unloaded, the empty trays are stacked and re-loaded onto the forklift to be removed from the house. The forklift backs slowly out of the house and then returns with another load of full fluffy yellow crates to start the process again – until all of the chicks are settled into their new surroundings. The house is unloaded from the middle out – so that the chicks are never in danger of being run over by the forklift as he backs out. *It’s noteworthy to mention that during this time, the water line(s) that would be in the way of the forklift coming in have been raised to the ceiling by pulleys. Once the chicks are delivered and the front door is securely shut, the lines are lowered down to appropriate chick drinking height.

The hours old chicks take barely a second to adjust to their new surroundings, most strutting out to explore almost immediately.  Within minutes, they learn to peck at the nipples on the water lines to get a drink and start to fill their bellies with their tiny bites of peep food. They follow the mini farmers around curiously, stopping only to cock their head sideways and stare with black eyes at this large being up in the sky. They soon become disinterested in the human giant and verbally peep encouragement to their cousins who are still sitting, telling them to “jump on in, the water’s fine.” Within hours of delivery, the chicks have spread themselves evenly over the whole half of the house, with plenty of stretch and play room for each little fluff ball.

While the mini farmers revel in the fluffiness, Farmer is busy double checking the computers and the many hand-adjusted items such as water line height, air inlet valves, and temperature sensors, constantly interrupted by the likes of “Hey Dad! Look at this one!” and “Dad, this one is talking to me!”

And the mini farmers aren’t the only ones who have a slight obsession…

Until next time, peeps!