A week ago today at 10:00 am, my 29 keets hatched. As soon as they were dried, they were put into a small box and shipped to me. The box was labelled with the date and time of “birth”. At 7 a.m. Thursday the post office called and said, “You’re keets are here!”
I walked in the front door of the post office and I could hear them peeping loudly all the way in the other room.
When I got home, I took off the lid of the little 8″ x 10″ box and there they were. Each tiny keet was egg shaped and about two inches long.
The first thing I had to do once they were home was to take them out of the box, one by one, so that I could count them, hold each one a bit for imprinting, and then dip each one’s beak into the water so they would begin to drink. Until that moment they had not had food or water.
To get them to eat, I placed marbles in a clay base and added crumbles of grain for chicks. I placed the clay base down into the hay, moving slowly so as not to startle the keets. I tapped on the clay base and said, “Keet, Keet, Keet” and they came running over and began to peck at the shiny marbles. That put their beaks into contact with the crumbles as well and they ate ravenously.
The keets are very active. When they’re tired one will sling-shot itself across the enclosure, nestle down into the hay instantly, and nod off to sleep. Another will do the same, sleeping up against the first. Gradually more and more join and they make a little brown carpet of sleeping keets. Unfortunately, as they sling-shot around, they have little control of their course, speed, or stopping. They may well run across the heads of the others to get to a choice spot. Sometimes a keet will fall asleep standing up and will weave from side to side.
I brought a small stool down so that I could sit and watch. After a while I went and got a regular old chair with a back. I’ve spent hours watching. On the first day home, they bit and tugged at one another’s feet. The tug-ee didn’t seem to mind too much. I figured this was a part of establishing pecking order. After the first day, the behavior disappeared.
The sling-shot thing still continues. As they shoot across the enclosure, they often flap their winglets and may even lift off the ground an inch. Occasionally they pole vault over sleeping keets. They peck at shadows on the wall and at bits of hay. Yesterday I added some new hay and they proceeded to jump and run and peck in a frenzy and as a group. One would find a bit of some grass with seeds and begin running away from the others only to be pursued. They stole from one another, trying to peck off the seeds as the fast as they could. Only when there were no seeds left did they abandon the bit of grass. Later I added a couple more pieces of the grass to see if the behavior would repeat itself. It did.
I had to remove the marbles from the clay base. The keats obsessed with them and all seemed to need to peck at the exact same one. They were useful for a while, but no longer needed.
I read online that its not good to use hay or straw as bedding for new keets so I followed their advice, cleaned away the hay, and put down some shelf liner (NOT the slick kind). The keets proceeded to spend the next 24 hours sleeping or quietly walking around to get food and water. Odd. They also really made a mess of the shelf liner. I was prepared to wash it periodically, but not every few minutes. That just wasn’t going to work for me. I decided to put back hay. The keets began to immediately shoot across, leap, jump, try to fly, almost as if they were filled with joy and playfulness. So hay it is.
At one week old, they’ve doubled in size and are eating two quarts of water and four containers of crumbles a day. Today I bought some grit (ground up shell mostly) for chicks. They don’t really need grit yet as the crumbles are pretty small and digestible. Grit is mostly to help them break up the grain. However, I have been adding a little grit and they seem to like it and search it out. I do add some powdered vitamin mix that I ordered from Murray McMurray Hatchery, along with the chicks. I’ll feed it to them in their water until they probably six or eight weeks old.
So there you have it. Week one.