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Country Discussion Topics
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Taking care of new chicks.
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Spence    Posted 01-13-2004 at 20:46:04       [Reply]  [No Email]
Just had a home raised full range chicken for supper. This bird was huge. I swear the breast was as large as a small turkey. What a meal with home fries and BBQ sauce.

So I've got the chicken rear'n this spring all figured out cept what to do with the chicks when I get 'em from the hatchery. Can I put em in the hen house right away? Do I need a heat lamp? Can they take care of themselves mostly?. What's the best breed that guarantees broodyness as I want to also try rear'n from scratch? Should I buy a few extra in case of die out? Any tips would be appreciated.

Thanks.


Spence - Thanks for the    Posted 01-15-2004 at 17:53:53       [Reply]  [No Email]



Colin in WI    Posted 01-13-2004 at 22:16:16       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Assuming you're going to get day-old chicks you'll need to put them under a heat lamp in a draft-free place. Set up a large cardboard box or enclosure perhaps 15-18 inches high and three feet across for 1-2 dozen chicks. Leave them room to move away from the lamp. You'll know if they're too cold, too hot or just right based on whether they bunch up under the light, bunch up away from it or wander around under the light. Provide them with a chick starter food and plenty of clean water. Help them get started eating by dipping their beaks in water and sticking them into their feed. watch for any birds that need a little extra help eating. We generally use shredded newspaper for bedding rather than something they'll try to eat like sawdust or shavings. This can all be done in the henhouse if it's suitable and convenient or you can put them in the house by the woodstove for a few days first. Watch out for cats, rats, etc! Buying a few extra is never a bad idea but you may not lose any. As far as variety goes, we're partial to brown egg layers and have a bunch of production Rhode Island Reds. They're big healthy birds and love to sit on their eggs. For a while we had a Polish rooster (with a feather top knot) and ended up with about 25 little Polish Reds running around here. Funny looking things. Latest experiment was with another brown egg layer called Dekalb Brown. Not quite as big a bird as the RI Reds but good egg layers. they like to hide eggs but then forget to set on them. Your local feed store can provide alot of advice and probably the birds too or you can mail order them via the Internet. Look up local 4-H club for more info. Good luck! You should have a lot of fun starting them.


Linda in UT    Posted 01-13-2004 at 22:12:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
Just remember, you have to be ready to kill umpteen chickens when they are old enough, and that's a learning curve in itself!

Several years ago I found plans for building a brooder that I could use in my chicken coop. I do not remember all of the details, other than it worked well for us.

I made it of plywood, measuring about 2 to 2 1/2 feet across the "roof." Essentially it was a (flat?) plywood roof set on four 2 x 2 legs that kept the edge of the roof about 8 inches off the ground. A draft curtain made of heavy cloth was hot glued completely around the edge of the roof and came clear to the ground. The cloth curtain was cut with scissors from the ground partway to the roof, about an inch apart. This allowed the chicks easy entrance and egress through the curtain, while holding in the warmth.

A light bulb was used for warmth - I believe it was mounted in a broad secure socket base with the bulb pointing up, with a round guard around it to keep the chicks from getting too close to the light as well as to keep them from knocking the light over.

We set this brooder in a small section of the coop that we normally used for storage. A large circle of cardboard completely surrounded the brooder to keep the chicks close to the brooder. The chicks could enter and leave the brooder itself and regulate their own heat, but couldn't wander far enough away to get stuck in a corner or to catch a chill. (Everything has to be round when they're tiny or they tend to pile into a corner and die.)

There's a lot to learn about raising chickens from small babies, but there are also lots of books and information available for you to learn from.

They tend to drown easily when they're small, so it can help to place small rocks or marbles in their waterer for awhile so they can jump back out without drowning. When they first arrive, you need to dip their beaks in their water so they learn where it is, and it helps to do the same with their food. They learn quickly, but following these steps can get you off to a good start.

You can get by without using the roofed brooder but our climate is cold and even though we raised our chicks indoors in the spring, we needed the extra shelter for them.



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