Backyard Raising chicks
What you need for raising chicks?
- Egg incubator
- Egg Candler
- Chicken heater
- Chicken coop
- Chicken coop bedding
We are going to look at the good and bad of each option. You can buy hatching eggs, chicks, started pullets or adult birds. Each choice has its merits but it’s really about what you feel is best for you.
Financially, the cheapest option is the chicks.
Pullets will cost you more because of the care, feed and time expended to raise the bird. Adult hens in their prime are the most expensive. Rescue and ex-battery hens are usually cheaper than pullets but more expensive than chicks.
- Hatching Eggs: These are fertilized eggs that you need to incubate. If you are new to chickens, I don’t recommend that you get hatching eggs unless you really know what you are doing. Although incubation is fairly straightforward, there definitely is an art to it.
- Chicks: This is the most used and wise choice for novices. You can select which breed(s) you want and when you want them. You typically get chicks at one day old.
- Pullets: Pullets are birds aged between four to six months. The chicks have been reared to adulthood and are usually sold at point of lay, meaning the pullet is about to lay her first egg anytime soon!
- Adults: Adult hens are more difficult to come by as breeders like to move birds out before they get too old since they eat more. A common source of adult hens is animal shelters or rescue sanctuaries.
TIPS FOR KEEPING A HAPPY CHICKEN COOP
- If you don’t yet have one, here’s how to build your own chicken coop.
- Many sources say that you can’t keep a flock of mixed ages. We never had a problem with older chickens picking on younger ones or vice versa. Our hens raised their chicks happily in the flock. Most picking is the result of overcrowding. Give your chickens lots of space.
- Young chicks need to be close to water and food at all times. Spread a 4-inch layer of pine shavings on the floor, then lay several layers of newspaper over that. Scatter lots of chick feed on the paper and also have feeding troughs filled in the pen. Remove a layer of paper every day, and by the time the last layer is gone, the chicks will have found the feeding trough.
- Always use red bulbs; injury doesn’t show under red light. Under white light, any bloody spot immediately attracts pecking. Chicks will cheerfully and efficiently peck each other to death.
- Block corners of the pen with cardboard to make wider angles that are harder for chicks to pack up in. (You could also make a circular pen.) This prevents suffocation.
- Ensure that waterers are shallow and cleaned daily to avoid having chicks drown. My hatchery recommends one gallon-size waterer for every hundred chicks. I always had two or three, even for fewer chicks, so that they wouldn’t crowd.
- With pullets, I used one waterer for every six to eight chickens and a feed trough long enough to accommodate all of them at once.