Raising chickens is one of the most rewarding endeavors you will ever engage in. So here’s some tips to keep in mind at the beginning of the chick’s life.

You want your chickens to be healthy and happy. It’s recommended you buy day-old chicks or if you prefer, hatch them out yourself. All babies are adorable and baby chicks certainly take the prize!

When hatched, chicks can live for 3 days on their yolk. Then they need water and “chick start” which can be medicated or non-medicated. Place water in a shallow dish with shiny stones or marbles. This is so your chicks will peck at the stones and drink water. But if they fall into the dish, they won’t drown.

You’ll keep your chicks in brooder boxes. You can buy the boxes or make them yourself. All babies need to be kept warm. Especially baby chicks. If they are kept indoors, a light bulb will be enough. Many people choose a 250-watt “red” heat lamp. This keeps the chicks from pecking at each other.

You’ll want the brooder to be tall enough so the little ones cannot fly out easily. Because in their third week, they’ll have the means to fly a remarkable distance. This is why brooders should have wire lids.

You don’t want chilled chicks so set the heat at 90 degrees the first week. You can lower the temps by 5 degrees each week for four weeks. This helps them get used to the climate when they go out into the world.

Just like you and me, a chick who is comfortable and well-rested is one happy camper. So pay attention to chicken bedding. Caution: Do not use cedar or redwood shavings because these are toxic to the chicken’s respiratory system.

Instead, you can use shredded newsprint, straw, pine shavings, walnut shells or specially made chicken bedding materials. Your chicks can be moved to outside chicken coops once they are fully feathered. Keep a heat lamp in a corner of the coop so they can huddle around it to stay warm in cooler weather.

Until your chicks are 4 months old, you will continue feeding them chick feed. Then you can change to layer mash or pellets. Oyster shell and hen scratch can be added to their diet because this will improve the quality of your chickens’ egg shell. And more importantly, will help them to have strong bones.

Giving your chicks hen scratch keeps your chickens occupied if they are in a confined run rather than out free ranging. They don’t like to be bored any more than we do. If circumstances require your chickens to be in enclosed chicken runs, be sure to add some hen grit. This is necessary for their gizzard in their digestion process.

Again, just like us, chickens love treats. Garden and table scraps will be appreciated. They also love looking for bugs, ants and worms. Children get a kick out of tossing treats into the hen house and watch the chickens racing for the prize. Okay, adults like doing this as well…

Most breeds will begin laying eggs at 6 months old. Your backyard chicken coop should be enclosed with a door, and chicken nesting boxes should be large enough for a couple of hens. It seems no matter how many chicken nesting boxes are available, some choosy hens always seem to want the same one. (“Her’s looks better than mine”)

Ventilation is important; make sure the airflow is good through the coop. You can drill several holes near the top of the coop for air. Make sure to cover with wire. Again, the bedding in the backyard chicken coop will be your personal choice. Fresh water and food are necessary daily.

By the time you’ve reached this stage in your “raising chickens” adventure, you’ve probably named them and delighted in their unique personalities. Now you can look forward to their blessings of quality, fresh eggs!

Tagged with:

Filed under: Chicken HealthFeatured

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!