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Purchasing, Raising, And Caring For Our New Chickens 

When we decided to get into the chicken and egg laying business, we didn't have a clue where to start! I could remember from when I was a kid that they needed some kind of bedding, water, and food, but beyond that I was totally lost. If you just purchased your chicks, you may be feeling the exact same way so I hope to be able to enlighten you with a bit of wisdom and a few tips in raising healthy chicks prior to moving them outside.

It was early spring when we bought ours as in many times the case and in our area, much too cold to have them outside.  So here I was, home with 8 Golden Comet pullet (pre-sexed females) chicks, some grower mash, two heat lamp fixtures, two mason jar feeder attachments, and a water dish, and not a clue what to do next!  Getting this far was strictly on the advice of the local Tractor Supply salesman.

We had to quickly figure out what to do next. First was a container to keep them in. I knew the first few weeks would not be too difficult as they were very small (only days old that point) and wouldn't need a lot of room.   We had a very large Rubbermaid container that was used to store camping gear in and this worked wonderfully for the first couple of weeks for our new chicks. Other than keeping food and water available, there is little else to do in taking care of your new chicks. Make sure you have chick gravel to add to their food, as they need this to help them digest their food.  You only need to add small amounts but this insures healthy chicks.  We also added a small amount of livestock antibiotic to their water to help insure they would be free of any of the many diseases that chickens can have or carry.

Some quick exploration on the net gave me some starting temperatures to work with and we chose 100 degrees as our beginning point. The recommendations were to lower the temperature by about 10 degrees per week and that's what we followed.  This was accomplished by raising the heat lamps higher away from the container and using a thermometer to keep track of the temperatures in their container.  You can see the thermometer in the lower right of this picture that we used to keep track of it.  You can tell if they are too warm or too cold by watching them.  If they are always all huddled together, they are likely too cold.  If they are avoiding the lamp altogether, they are likely too warm.  If everyone is moving about normally, as shown in these photo's, you are likely good to go!

The chicks grow very quickly and by about 2 weeks old, we needed to come up with a better solution as our chicks were going to be inside with us for about 8 weeks as we built the coop and waited for warmer May weather to arrive to move them outside to their new permanent home. Plus in the meantime, my wife decided that we needed 4 more chicks to make an even dozen! My wife is very creative and quickly came up with idea of using an old water bed frame we had laying around in the basement for our chicks.  This worked out fantastic for the next 6 weeks. We eventually had to add cardboard around the outside to increase the height of the walls so our chicks didn't try to "fly the coop" so to speak.

We used a step ladder to mount the heat lamps on. This made it easy to keep the lights above the area and made raising them as dropped the temperature in the holding area over the next few weeks.  We used pine shavings for bedding and I must say it worked wonderfully!  As long as we kept enough in there, the smell never became an issue and worked well at absorbing the waste as it was produced.  Baby chickens do two things and they do them well...eat and poop!

 

One of the main reasons my wife gave for wanting to raise chickens initially was because she thought it would be a neat experience for our grandchildren.  They all loved the baby chicks and here you can see the excitement on one of my grandsons face as he explores the new babies from close up.

 

 

The chicks grow very quickly and here you can see them at about 4 weeks old.  It doesn't take long at all for them to change from cute fluffy little chicks into something resembling small chickens at all.

 

 

Here they are at about 6 weeks of age.  They now are getting many of their adult feathers already and spend a lot of time on the roosting pole we provided them.  Chickens love to roost off the ground and readily accept a place to do so.  Just make sure you use something large enough in diameter for them to comfortably sit on without curling their feet around the entire pole which could harm them and would be very uncomfortable.  We used a spare broom handle we had laying around at this point.

 

Here you see our chicks when they were first moved to their new chicken coop.  They were 8 weeks old at this point.  We kept a heat lamp in the coop for a couple of weeks, as here in Michigan in mid May, it's not uncommon to drop near freezing at night.  We kept the coop around 75 degrees for a couple weeks and as we moved into June, we didn't need it at all.  We continued to use pine shavings for the floor and we are also using the "deep litter" method which makes clean up easy to manage.  We also use "fossil flour" or "diatomaceous earth" added to their bedding which performs a few different functions within the coop.  We also use it in their nest boxes.  The function the fossil flour performs is as a natural pesticide in the coop and for the chickens themselves. If you make sure you are using a food grade version of fossil flour, it can be added to their feed as a natural wormer as well.  It also helps control the odor inside the coop as it acts as an absorbent as well.  I will cover all of this in a later page but this is wonderful stuff.

“Here’s How To Keep Happy, Healthy, Egg Laying Chickens In Your Own Backyard or On The Farm…

 

Next ]

[ purchasing, raising, & caring for our new chickens ] [ diy chicken coop ] [ chicken coop size & location ] [ building our chicken coop ] [ chicken coop construction part 1 ] [ chicken coop construction part 2 - ] [ chicken coop construction part 3 ] [ chicken coop construction part 4 ] [ chicken coop construction part 5 ] [ chicken coop construction part 6 ] [ chicken coop construction part 7 ] [ chicken coop construction part 8 ] [ chicken coop construction part 9 ] [ chicken coop construction part 10 ] [ chicken coop construction part 11 ] [ chicken coop construction part 12  ] [ chicken coop construction part 13  ]

 

Written by: WM8C, November 8th, 2006.  Not for use without written permission

 

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