Brooder: The Baby Chick Stage

FIRST & FOREMOST, make sure that you’re ready to fully commit to taking care of these little furry ones! It requires more than just food and water, just like with any other pet. They don’t require a lot to be happy but still require some of TLC!

Do Your Homework

  • Check your local ordinances and zoning codes for your city. Each city has their own regulation on how many backyard chicks you’re able to have.
  • Figure out why you want chicks… Is it for a bountiful amount of fresh eggs? Is it because you want to know where your food comes from? Or is it just because you’ve always wanted to raise chickens?
  • Research all of the CHICK BREEDS to figure out what fits your wants the best.

Brooder Set up

  • Get all of the chicks supplies and brooder set up before they arrive to your home.

Brooder

During the first few weeks with your chicks, place them in a secured, warm area with access to food & water 24/7.

The options of what to use for your brooder are endless! 

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*Chick Pro TIP: Cover the top of your brooder with chicken wire to protect them from predators and to prevent them from flying out. Also, place a piece of cheesecloth to over the chicken wire to block dust from getting into the box.

Bedding

Clean bedding is essential to keeping your baby chicks health in good condition. Proper sanitation can help reduce the risk of diseases. 

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Using newspapers can create a slick & wet surface that can cause damage to their legs. Using cedar shavings can create irritation to their respiratory system. Using white shavings, NATURE’S SHAVINGS, is absorbent and is easy to spread out along the bottom of your brooder!

Make sure that the brooder’s bedding is dry and changed often.

Heat Lamp

Heat plays a key part in your baby chicks survival. Using a heat lamp and a 250 watt infrared bulb is the key. You can adjust the brooder’s temperature easily by just raising and lowering the heat lamp.

Set up your heat lamp above the feeder and opposite end of the waterer. If you do place the lamp over the chick’s water, it will heat up and cause algae to grow.

*Chick Pro TIP: Keep a spare bulb handy. Your chicks brooder temperature needs to stay consistent.

Thermometer

During the first week your baby chicks are with you, their brooder temperature should be set at 95 degrees. After that week, reduce the temperature 5 degrees per week.

Get an thermometer to place inside the brooder to help you regulate and maintain the heat easier.

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*Chick Pro TIP: If you see your chicks huddled together underneath the heat lamp, turn up the heat… If you see them holding their wings out or panting and far away from the heat lamp, turn down the heat!

Waterer & Feeder

94e70de4ae9220487cd04132c4e37046 Your chicks will need easy access to their food and water at all times. Place the food dish at one end of the box and the opposite end of the box for the water dish. This prevents the chicks from kicking their food into their water.

Change your baby chicks water at least once a day. Make sure that the waterer base is not too deep or wide so that your chicks won’t fall in!

Feed your chicks with a chick starter mixed with some chick scratch during their first 8 weeks. Using chick scratch helps your chicks process their food and prevent PASTY BUTTS!

Enjoy watching your flock grow!

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Chicks 101: Shopping List of Supplies for Baby Chicks

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Preparing for your new baby chicks can be like somewhat preparing for a newborn at first.  It may be daunting and overwhelming, however, the supplies needed are far simpler and easy to get your hands on.

After doing your research and making the decision to get your own baby chicks, you will be more confident & relaxed knowing what they need to live a happy and healthy life with you. Listed here are seven important items that are needed before your batch of chicks arrive home.

1. Brooder

This is the first and most important item on your shopping list. Brooders come in various sizes and shapes. The main thing needed from a brooder is that it must provide the baby chicks an environment with controlled heat and draft free.  The brooder must also provide protection from any predators.

2. Heat Lamp

A heat lamp is another necessity to have when raising baby chicks. All baby chicks must be kept in a brooder with a heat lamp.  Initially, the brooder should be kept at 90-95 degrees.

It is recommended to use a red bulb over a white one for a two reasons: the darker light helps them sleep better and prevents them from pecking at each other.

A little trick to help you figure out if your chicks are at the right temperature: when your chicks are moving around freely and chirp with joy while sleeping next to each other, they are at the correct temperature. If they are huddled together by the heat lamp, they are too cold. If they are panting, they are too hot.

3. Thermometer

This is needed to check the temperature in the brooder and making sure your chicks are staying warm.

4. Waterer

When purchasing the right waterer for your chicks, make sure that it has these features: the chicks are not able roost on top of it or turn it over, supplies enough water without running out, does not leak and is easy to clean and sanitize.

When placing the waterer in the brooder, make sure to place it leveled with the chick’s back. You will need to continually raise it as they grow. This little trick will save you a lot of time from cleaning up after them as they may splash around in it and end up getting their bedding wet. Also, this trick will work with the feeder too.

5. Feeder

The feeder is used to hold the chicken feed. A quality chicken feeder will have these characteristics: prevents roosting, easy to clean and is lipped on the edge to prevent the feed from being wasted.

6. Bedding

Hay, straw or pine shavings are all bedding options to use for your chickens. The bedding provides a soft surface for your chickens to walk on and to absorb their droppings.

Pine shavings is the most recommended bedding to use out of all the options. This type is most absorbent out of the three.

An important note to remember when getting your supplies, DO NOT use cedar shavings. The aromatic oils will irritate your chicks lungs and may cause respiratory problems later.

7. Starter Feed

Chick Starter is highly recommended for baby chicks. This feed is nutritionally balanced for uniform growth and optimal health.

We recommended using medicated feed. Medicated feed helps chicks combat coccidiosis which are parasitic organisms that infect chickens by attacking their digestive track. This disease is found just about everywhere in the environment and is usually fatal to young birds.

 

bf4876bf09435ea53364b415b9bf8d93 Chicken Coop

 You don’t need a chicken coop at first, but it’s important to keep in mind and plan for when they get older.

As the chicks get older, they also will need their own space. If you decide to have your chickens roam freely or not, a coop is needed no matter what. The coop provides many necessities for chickens. It is their shelter from the rain and cold weather, protection from predators  and a safe place for them to lay their eggs and sleep.

There are various sizes and shapes of chicken coops. You can build one yourself and many websites provide chicken coop building plans for you to follow. However, many stores that sell chickens also have pre-made chicken coops available. Go to our website to see what kind of coops we have available.

Chicks 101: 6 Popular Backyard Chicken Breeds

Narrowing down to one breed out of the 60 breeds of chicken can be an overwhelming task. Each breed of chicken has their own unique qualities while sharing some similarities with others. No matter what your preference may be, there is a breed out of the 60 that fits your needs and wants.

Here is a list of six breeds that we’ve found to be popular among Backyard owner’s who typically look for both productivity and personality in their flock.

Ameraucana

Breed: Standard                                                                         Ameraucana

Size: Medium (5 to 7 lbs)

Feather Color: Assorted Colors

Purpose: Egg-laying

Egg Laying: Good; 3 per week

Egg Color: Blue & Green

Known to be docile, sweet and good- natured chickens. Breed- standard Ameraucanas are a quite difficult to acquire. They are only available through breeders at the moment.

Generally, Ameraucanas are known as Easter Eggers- meaning they carry the blue and green egg gene but may not have all of the physical characteristics of Ameraucanas.

Australorp

Breed: Standard                                                                      Australorp

Size: Heavy (7 to 8 lbs)

Feather Color: Black

Purpose: Dual

Egg Laying: Excellent; 5 per week

Egg Color: Brown

These friendly and calm chickens are also known as the ‘utility chicken.’ They  hold the world’s individual record of egg laying and lay very large light brown eggs . If you’re looking for a chicken that is pet friendly and has dependable laying, this is your breed.

Buff Orpington

Breed: Standard                                                            Buff O.

Size: Heavy (7 to 8 lbs)

Feather Color: Golden (buff)

Purpose: Dual

Egg Laying: Good; 3 per week

Egg Color: Brown

These dual- purpose birds are a breed for all occasions. They are friendly, cold-hardy, relaxed and can lay up to 200 eggs a year! This breed is a perfect choice for someone wanting a reliable chicken around the yard or a small farm.

Plymouth Rock

Breed: Standard

Size: Heavy (7 to 8 lbs)

Feather Color: Barred & Partridge

Purpose: Dual

Egg Laying: Very good; 4 per week

Egg Color: Brown

This breed is one of the most popular dual-purpose chickens. This chicken is easy to breed,  very friendly and able to withstand cold weather. They are generally hearty birds and prolific layers, making them a popular choice for small farms.

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Welsummer

Breed: Standard                                               Welsummer

Size: Medium (6 to 7 lbs)

Feather Color: Partridge

Purpose: Dual 

Egg Laying: Very good; 4 per week

Egg Color: Dark, Reddish Brown & sometimes Speckled

This breed is all- around simple and friendly  bird that is great at laying and for show.  Welsummers are regarded as excellent foragers, meaning (possible) lower feed bills and definite rich eggs.

A little fun fact is that the rooster on the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box was believed to be inspired by this breed!

Wyandotte

Breed: Standard                                                      wyandotte-hen

Size: Heavy (7 to 8 lbs)

Feather Color: Golden, Sliver & Blue

Purpose: Dual

Egg Laying: Very good; 4 per week

Egg Color: Brown

People that are looking for the perfect breed for their backyard flock, look no further. This chicken is known for their dependable egg laying, hardiness and beautiful feathering.  They get along well with people which makes them easy to handle and maintain. If you’re a beginner, this is the breed for you.

If you want to learn more about these breeds and others, go to our website for more information!

Chicks 101: 12 Benefits To Raising Your Own Backyard Chickens

Beneficial, rewarding and exciting are just a few words that describe the experience of having your own flock of backyard chickens. These birds offer many more benefits than the obvious one, a regular supply of your own eggs.

Listed below are some of the many benefits to why you should start raising your own chickens:

blogsign11. Fresh, Healthy Eggs Daily

A hen lays one egg a day. These eggs have a richer taste compared to store bought ones. Since backyard chickens have the ability to touch and roam on soil unlike factory- farm chickens, their eggs have a higher nutritious value to them. Compared to store bought eggs, the egg has 25 percent more vitamin E, a third more vitamin A and 75 percent more beta carotene. They also have significantly more omega-3 fatty acids than factory farmed eggs. Plus, the eggs are free of charge and always fresh!

2. Enriches Your Compost & Soil

They are living, breathing composters that will make quick work of cleaning up all of that plant-based waste.  These birds are your answer for a free source of natural & organic fertilizer. Their droppings are loaded with nitrogen. A higher level of nitrogen means your plants and vegetables leaves will become greener & fuller. Another plus to using them for manure is that it enables your garden to produce more in a smaller space with the use of less water.

Great benefit to when they do their daily scratching and digging is that they’re also aerating your soil and breaking down larger pieces of vegetation.

3. Reduces Waste

You can pass on your daily leftovers to your chickens. These chickens can eat just about anything. Nothing will go to waste thanks to them!

You will also be helping with keeping our planet green by giving your scraps to your chickens instead to the landfill. A double win!

4. Pest Control

These birds are a free & organic pest control. The cruise around eating up any insect insight. They will keep your yard insect free without any use of pesticide.

Plus, they also love to eat weeds! Overall, they can make your gardening an easier task for you.

5. Low Maintenance Required

Caring for chickens is less work than with other pets. All they require from you is to feed them water & food daily while cleaning their coops regularly and collecting their eggs. That is it!

6. Inexpensive Upkeep

In the beginning, getting all of the supplies you need for your coop may be expensive. However, the upkeep after that cost is up to nothing compared to household pets. All you will have to pay for is their monthly bag of feed and bedding materials.

Feed for chickens comes in a 50 pound bag. A baby chick eats up to 9-10 pounds in it’s first 10 weeks. After that, a mature chicken may eat up to five pounds per month. Even though the bag of feed may be costly upfront, however, you will not be buying a new bag each month.

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You’re just a step closer to be being a real farmer!

8. Teaches lessons about Responsibility for Children

Tending for a chicken coop is easier than taking care of a dog. Chickens don’t require for you to take them out on a walk or let them out to use the bathroom. Instead; they require you to give them their feed, clean out their coop, and to inspect them to ensure they’re healthy. These tasks are easier to make sure your kids get done since it doesn’t require a lot of hassle and time.

Just have your children check on their feed before & after school and clean out their coop on the weekends. Easy as that! Also, each day they will get a nice reward for feeding them… a fresh egg!

9. Chickens Have Personalities

Some are cranky while others are sweet. Some are aloof while others are sharp. Each and every chicken has their own individual personality that separates them from each other.  They are fun animals to get to know and provides tons of laughter while raising them.

10. Preventing Extinction 

By raising your own chickens, you are a major help in preventing them from becoming extinct. Due to how factory-farm operates, we are at risk of losing the rare, heritage breeds. If these breeds become extinct, we could lose genes that may one day save the poultry industry if it every falls to susceptible illness.

11. Relieves Stress & Provides Antidepressants

Like another other pet,  when you hug or pet them, it releases a hormone known as oxytocin. This hormone, also known as the ‘love hormone’, is a stress lowering chemical that is in our bodies. Petting and holding a chicken has the same affect as it does with another pet.

12.  Earn a little Cash

You are able to sell or give away your extra eggs that you don’t eat for yourself. A perfect way for another source of money!

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Chicks 101: Terms You Need To Know

Decided to start raising your own backyard chickens? Raising chickens is an incredibly fun and rewarding experience that doesn’t require you to be a professional at farming. However, it can be challenging at first.

While doing your research and learning on how to raise chickens healthy & properly, you may come across some unfamiliar terms. For most beginners, some of these terms may be things you’ve never heard of before or may think of the wrong meaning for the word. This could cause confusion for yourself during the process of setting up your first coop and getting all the essentials you ‘ll need.

Listed below are chicken terms defined that beginners need to know first and foremost before starting:

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B

Bantam– A miniature chicken; 1/4 to 1/2 the size of a Standard chicken breed.

Barnyard Chicken– A mixed breed chicken.

Beard– Feathers bunched underneath the beak; e.g. Ameraucana.

Bedding– Wood shavings, shredded paper or straw that is placed scattered on the floor of the coop to absorb moisture and manure.

Billing out– Chickens using their beak to scoop feed onto the floor from the feeder.

Blowout– Vent damage due to a laying of an over sized egg.

Breeders– 1.Fertile eggs  that are collected from mature chickens. 2. Someone who raises  and take cares of chickens.

Brood– 1. A hen who desires to care for the batch of chicks . 2. Another name used for baby chicks.

Brooder– A heated enclosed house for chicks that recreates the same warm and protection that a hen gives.

Broody–  1. When a hen sits on her eggs to keep them warm and tries to hatch them. 2. Also, refers to when a hen stays in the nest without producing eggs for an extended period of time.

C

Candling–  1. A process that is used to determine whether or not the egg is fertilized  by shinning a candle light over it.  2. Done with a candle, not with a normal light.

Cannibalism– When chicks pecks, tears and/ or eats  on another flock mate’s feathers, skin, organs and/or eggs.

Cape– Feathers that cover the neck and the top & back of the head on a chicken.

Clean Legged– Without feathers  on the chicken’s shanks, i.e. legs.

Clutch– A group of fertilized eggs in a nest that are hatched together.

Cockerel–  Male chicken under a year old.

Comb– Rubbery and red flesh that is on top of the chicken’s head.

Complete Feed– A feed that contains everything needed to maintain proper health for the chickens.

Coop– A house or cage used for the chicken’s to live in.

Crest–  A bunch of feathers on top of the head of certain breeds; e.g. Polish and Houdan.

Crop– 1. Part of pre- digestive system.  2. Location of where the food is collected at the base of the neck on the chicken and is softened before entering the stomach.

D

Droppings–  Manure of chickens.

Droppings Tray– An area located underneath the roosting poles to collect the droppings for an easy disposal.

Dual Purpose– A hen is used for both egg laying and meat qualities.

Dust Bath– 1. A behavioral pattern.  2. When chickens dig a hole in the ground and thrash around in the dirt to get themselves dirty.  3. An important defense mechanism that chickens must do in order to protect themselves against lice and mites.

E

Egg Tooth– A horny cap located on the chick’s upper beak that is used to break through the shell.

Exhibition Breeds– Chickens that are used to show off their beauty instead of for laying or meat qualities.

F

Feather Legged– When feathers grow down the shanks; e.g., Brahmas.

Feeder– Where the feed for the chickens is hold and delivered to them.

Fowl– Domesticated birds that are raised for food only.

G

Grit– Small pebbles or sand that chickens eat to be used by their gizzard to help with their digestion.

H

Hackles– Feathers around the chicken’s neck.

Hen– A mature, female chicken.

I

Incubation– 1. A process that when the fertilized eggs  undergo to be hatch. 2.Takes about 21 days to happen.

Intensity of Lay– Number of eggs that a hen lay’s during a given time.

K

Keel– The breastbone on a chicken.

L

Layer Feed– The complete feed made only for laying hens.

M

Molt– 1. A annual process of when chickens shed and renew  their feathers 2. Hens do not lay during this process.

Muff– 1. When the feathers stick out on both sides of the face and underneath the beak; e.g. Ameraucana and Houdan. 2. Also, known as ‘whiskers’.

N

Nest– A secluded area where a hen feels secure to leave her eggs.

Nest Box– This is a man-made box that is created to help encourage hens to lay their eggs in.

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Non Setter– A breed of chicken or a chicken that does not have a desire to incubate fertilized eggs or to care for baby chicks.

P

Pecking Order–  1.The social rank that the flock of chickens create themselves.  2. Where a chicken with a higher rank may peck another chicken with a lower rank but a lower rank chicken may not peck a chicken with a higher rank.

Perch– An area in the coop where the chickens sleep at night.

Persistence of Lay– The act of a hen that can lay steadily over a long period of time.

Pickout– Vent damage happened by cannibalism.

Pinfeathers– Newly emerging feathers tips.

Production Breed– Type of chicken breed that is valued for egg laying qualities only.

Pullet– Female chicken under a year old.

R

Ration– Combination of all feed consumed during a day.

Roost– A pole that is used by chickens to perch on during their sleep.

Roosting Pole– A man-made pole located inside the coop that is created for the chickens to sleep on.

Run– The outdoor area located by the coop that is used for chickens to roam freely.

S

Saddle– Area of feathers located on the chicken’s lower back just before the tail.

Scratch– 1. A treat made up of various grains that chickens love to eat.  2. An instinctual behavior for chickens.  3. Chickens use their claws to dig up worms, tiny rocks and bugs in the soil.

Setter– When a chicken or breed of chickens have the desire to incubate a batch of fertilized eggs.

Sexed– Assorting newly hatched chicks  into pullets or cockerels.

Sex Feather– The tail feather is rounded on a hen but pointed on a rooster.

Shank– Bottom part of the chicken’s legs.

Spent– A hen that is no longer laying well.

Stag– When a cockerel’s spurs and comb begin to develop and shows that they’re about to enter sexual maturity.

Started Pullet– A pullet that has begun to start laying eggs.

Starter Feed– A complete feed made especially for baby chicks.

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U

Unthrifty– The appearance of a chicken is unhealthy and fail to grow at the normal rate.

V

Vent– The external opening on a chicken where they pass all waste matter and eggs.

W

Waterer– A container that contains and delivers water to the chickens.

Wattles– Two, red & rubbery flaps of flesh located on the chicken’s neck.

Wheezer– Chicken’s butt.

Source: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/glossary-definitions-of-common-terms-for-raising-backyard-chickens