So you want to raise chicks? GREAT! AWESOME! Welcome to the gateway of farming.
Myself and a fellow chicken tender, friend, and our veterinarian have come up with a bit of the basics. We actually teach this to folks in our hometown, and so i have improvised- blog style.
You bring chicks home- now what?
Try to be set up before bringing the tiny dinos home. It will prove to be much less stressful. Trust me. ;)
Your basics: Food (medicated or non-medicated), water, heat lamp, brooder, bedding (no cedar). •The amount of space in your brooder will depend on how many chicks you are wanting to raise. Trust me- they grow fast! •Heat! Rule of thumb: 1st week the brooder should be kept at 95 degree F and the reduced 5 degrees weekly. You can adjust the height of the heat lamp weekly. •You can also watch the behavior of the chicks, they will tell you if they are cold or hot! •Place the brooder in a draft free area- garage or SECURED and safe barn are the best areas I have found. •Triple secure your heat lamps!
Once your chicks are fully feathered 6-8 weeks they can move outside to a safe place, only if its warm enough.
Hatch to 8 weeks of age-
• You'll want a chick starter. 18% protein.
•Grit- if they don’t have access to the outside, dirt, grass, bugs etc.
•Very limited treats
•Heat- start at 95 degrees and decrease weekly by 5 degrees, remember- watch the birds behavior
•Watch for things like pasty butt and weak birds.
•I LOVE to handle the birds as much as possible (wash hands) so that they are friendly and love interaction even when they grow up and move outdoors.
8 weeks to 18 weeks:
•Same grower/starter feed and fresh water
• Grit- only If they are still indoors at this time
•They can start to take trips outside, or if its warm enough the chicks can begin to integrate to the present flock or move to a secure outdoor coop (weather permitting)
•They can start to enjoy minimal treats
•Fruit- avoid citrus and things with pits- Mine love blueberries and strawberries!
•Lettuce, kale, cabbage
•Chicken scratch/cracked corn
18 weeks on:
• At this time you will want to switch to a laying feed formula and also begin to provide oyster shell- because your birds are getting close to laying age! •The birds at this time can fully withstand the weather conditions, provided they have shelter and a wind block. •If you haven't already, you will want to prepare the nesting boxes •Location, shavings vs. straw, fake egg/golfball. •How many? Rule of thumb is about 1 nesting box per 4-5 hens. •
Get ready! Fresh eggs are coming soon!
Basic First Aid to keep on the farm:
•Vitamins and Electrolytes
•Gauze or cleaning pads
* This is a quick list of what I will always keep on hand!
•What is the average life span of a chicken? 6 - 8 years. In rare occasions you will have one that will make it up to 10 years. Egg production slows as they get older. In fact, hens lose about 1/2 of their production after just a few years.
•Will chickens come back to their coop at night? Yes, chickens will always come home to roost.
•Do I need a rooster for hens to lay eggs? No. The hens will lay eggs, but they wont be fertile. This means that they will not turn into a baby chickens.
•How many chickens do I need for eggs? 2 hens per person is about right. If you do a lot of baking or have a family that really likes eggs get 3 hens per person. (always plan for more J)
•At what age do hens start laying eggs? Hens will start to lay eggs at about 4-5 months of age.
•How long does it take for a chick to hatch? About 21 days.
There is a spot of blood in the egg, what is wrong with it and is it safe to eat? A "bloody egg" or blood spotted egg is a relatively common thing that most of us have seen before. While it may look disgusting, it is perfectly safe to eat. It occurs when bits of tissue or blood become molded with the egg as it passes through the oviduct.
Should I heat my coop? Generally speaking- no.
•Can I eat fertile eggs? Do they taste different?- yes/ no
•How much space to my chickens need? If the chickens are going to free range during the day, they only need about 4 square feet per chicken. If they are not, you should bump that up to at least 10 square foot per bird. Always make things as big as possible! Chicken math
•Chickens are loud! Plan for this- If you live in town, let your neighbors know you are getting chickens and in exchange they will get fresh eggs from time to time.
•Have a “sick ward” to separate any ill seeming bird.
As always, I am happy to help you in any way I can. Find me on the gram: Wildoakfarms