Having chickens is so easy and a lot of fun! Plus, you get fresh eggs everyday, all year round if you play your cards right ;-) We just got 6 chicks over the weekend from Tractor Supply! Now we have 10 chickens total :) The breed we bought are called Isa Brown. Basically just brown, pullet layer chicks, duel purpose. Duel meaning they can lay eggs and be used for meat. Pullet means female only chicks.
Here are the things you need to start raising chicks!
1) heat lamp with heat lamp bulbs
2) chick starter feed
3) chick feeder and chicken waterer
4) shavings for bedding, like horse bedding
5) container to put the chicks in, I used an old kiddie pool.
6) chicken wire, to place around the container so that the chicks don't escape.
7) chicken raising book, this will help you with all the odds and ends of chicken rearing.
8) container to keep your chicken food in to prevent mice and rats from getting a free meal.
That's about it for a little while until they get bigger but that will be a few more weeks.
Once you have purchased all the supplies, the next step is figuring out where you'll be keeping them, and setting it all up before they arrive.
To set up your chick starting station, just make sure the container you're keeping them in is clean and dry. Place about an inch of bedding in the bottom, the waterer and food should be spread out a bit and not directly under the heat lamp. This is so the chicks get exercised during the day and so that the food and water doesn't get overheated. Next, arrange your heat lamp about 12-16 inches above the chicks container so that the chicks have warmth but aren't turning into a roast chick in the process. The heat lamp has to be run 24/7 while the chicks are growing the next few weeks so make sure it's securely hung and can't fall into the shavings and start a fire. The final step is to surround your container with a border wall, such as a large broken up cardboard box or chicken wire. This is so that the chicks don't fly out or get stuck between the container and the border wall. To prevent that from happening, just make sure the border wall is tightly snug along the container.
Once you have purchased your chicks, you can bring them home and place them in your container! It's best to leave them be for at least a day so that they can get acclimated to their new home. In the meantime, keep their food and water full and keep an eye on their heat lamp height. If the chicks are directly underneath it and huddled together, then they need it lowered a bit. They are doing that because they are a little cold and are trying to absorb as much warmth as possible. If they are spread out a bit under it and aren't huddled together, then it is perfect. If they aren't under it at all, then raise it a bit. They aren't underneath it because it's way too hot. Every week, raise your heat lamp 3 inches until they no longer need it.
In the first few days of owning your chicks, you may start to notice that some of the chicks have poo hanging out of their fannies. Sometimes, if this poo doesn't get removed, it justs builds and builds and the chicks can die of backed up fannies. To avoid this from happening, you have to try and pinch the poo off. If it's really stuck in their vents ( the area the eggs come out of ) then you need some warm water in a bowl and a chick in your hand to gently soak their poo and fanny in the warm water. Soak it until it loosens and you can pop it off. Try to keep the chick as dry as possible during this. You can cradle them in a way to just dip them fanny first and just have to dry off their tail feathers. Your chicks will thank you in the long run :).
Here is what you need to know about chicks:
1) Chicks need to stay warm and dry, hence the heat lamp.
2) They need to have fresh water and a full container of food at all times.
3) Their soiled bedding needs to be scooped out regularly to avoid the chicks from getting sick.
4) Their container and set up need to be in a safe place, such as a garage or basement. As long as it's dry and not drafty, you will be good.
5) Try to visit and handle your chicks on a daily basis so that they get used to people.
6) Always wash your hands after handling chicks or touching their stuff to avoid Salmonella poisoning and try to avoid kissing or putting chicks to your face.
Enjoy this awesome adventure of raising chicks! They are a lot of fun and very easy farm
animals for beginners:) And as always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me!
Our simple set up.
Heat lamp diagram.
Our model :)