We did it. We picked up some chicks from the feed store. We loaded up the kids, drove them down to the feed store and let them pick out some fluffy little baby chickens. Not knowing much about raising chickens, we jumped in feet first. These are the lessons as we learn them:
SUPPLIES WE BOUGHT FROM THE FEED STORE:
- Chickens. Can’t really raise chickens without them!
- Chick Starter Food.
- Feeder Bowl, Waterer.
- Lamp. You could probably use any lamp that hangs, but we didn’t have any, so we bought one.
- Light bulb.
The following is what WE did for our chicks on day one:
You need CHICKENS
There are so many different kinds of chickens! Just like cats and dogs. I walked in not knowing much about chickens at all, and I left knowing a few different breed names. After owning chicks for ONE WEEK, I now know a few different facts about a few different breeds.
OH. And if you want egg-laying chickens, buy PULLETS. That means a girl chicken who hasn’t laid any eggs yet. Straight Run chickens are chickens that haven’t been sexed yet. So you may get roosters.
And just so you know, even if you buy pullets, you still may get roosters. Because people can be wrong. So think through what you may do with boys if you have them (you won’t know until they’re full grown and start crowing, usually.)
We picked up 3 Dominiques, 3 Light Brahams and 2 Easter Eggers.
Chicks need a BROODER
A brooder is a safe, warm area where the baby chickens can grow. It includes a heat source, food and water, and bedding to absorb their droppings.
As soon as we got home, Hubby went to his tools and we make a brooder out of a large plastic tote. We have two cats who would love a free snack, so he retrofitted some hardware cloth to the lid with some wood so it could hold up the weight of the cat in case he got in the room.
Chicks need HEAT
You need something to generate the heat. There are different kinds out there and more knowledgable chicken-owners who can tell you the difference between the wattages and colors.
We had a heck of a time getting the temperature right. We found the brooder light we bought at the store was too hot, so we put a 60 watt bulb in there and it works so much better. Hubby built a stand for the light, so it would hang safely and not start any fires or melt anything. (That would be BAD)
Chicks need BEDDING
We got some pine chip bedding because that’s what the lady sold us. Upon further investigation, it’s the best because it doesn’t get too soggy and it’s big enough that the chicks won’t eat it. Or something like that.
Chicks need FOOD AND WATER
There are different types of food, with different protein contents. Make sure you get the right kind for the age/stage of your birds. Chicks need a higher protein content so they can grow well. We picked up some Chick Starter Food.
You’ll want something to put the food and water in. There are ways to make these cheap or free. We were going to do that, but convenience won in this respect. I still may. Kind of sick of changing the water already after a week (all kinds of nasty gets in the bowl).
The chicks need to stay inside where we can regulate their heat until they are fully feathered- probably about 4 weeks. We are still in the planning stage for their coop and run outside.
We should have eggs around November of this year!
A few things I’ve learned this week:
- Pullets are girls, Straight Run means a mix
- Sometimes chicks just die.
- THEY STINK. We have had to open the window in the room where they are.
- They are hilarious to watch.
- They have personalities from day one.
- You think you won’t be obsessed with chickens if you buy them, and you are wrong.
- Wash your hands with soap after handling them.
- Be careful of chicken math. It’s a real thing, and you might have more than you bargained for!