Monday, February 23, 2015

Raising Backyard Chickens - Bringing Chicks Home

How exciting!  You've decided to purchase chickens!  Before bringing your chickens home you need to make sure you have everything you need. You need to set up their first home. A brooder is where you keep newly hatched chicks until they have enough feathers and are big enough to move outside.
The brooder needs to be warm and dry. You also need to supply clean water and adequate food.
LinkChoosing a brooder. You can choose from many different options for your brooder. You can use a large cardboard box, plastic tub, a ready made brooder from the store or build your own. You want to make sure that your chicks have enough space. It is recommended for chicks 0-4 weeks old you give them 1/2 square foot per bird. For our new little ones, I use a large rubber maid tote.

Bedding. You will want to line the bottom of the brooder with some sort of bedding. I use pine bedding. I have heard of people using pine bedding, shredded paper or both. For now I am sticking with just pine bedding. You don't need very much to cover the bottom.

Food and Water. Keep food and water available at all times. You can purchase a water bottle for chicks from your local farm store for a couple bucks. You will want to purchase chick starter food in either medicated or non-medicated formula. This is designed for chicks 0-6 weeks old. You can purchase a chick feeder that is specially designed to discourage chicks from soiling in their food.

Heat. Chicks need to be kept warm. When you bring them home the brooder should be a toasty 95 degrees. Place a thermometer in the brooder to keep track of the temperature. Another way to tell if your chicks are getting appropriate heating is to watch their behavior. If they are huddled under the lamp they are too cold. If they are along the outer edges, chances are they are too hot. As the chicks develop more feathers they will need less heat.

I was able to set up my first brooder for around $50. This year when I brought home our new baby chicks I spent about $20. I only had to purchase chick food and a bag of pine shavings. I had all the other items from the previous years.

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