Raising Colored Rangers (aka Freedom Rangers)
Arrival- On May 15, I took delivery of 102 chicks, hatched May 13, at the local post office. The chicks arrived on the 4 am truck, shipped from Pennsylvania (jmhatchery.com) on the afternoon of 4/13 via USPS Priority Mail. The post office called me near the civilized hour of 7 am, and I went down to pick them up along with a friend. All 102 chicks arrived healthy, although they were a little cold. I had set up my heat lamps before departing for the PO but the chicks still chirped loudly, complaining of being cold for the first hour or so. Of the order of 100, I had sold off 90 on craigslist, planning to keep 10. As everyone looked healthy, I got to keep 12! All of my craigslist purchase buddies picked up by 2 pm. Smooth.
Their initial feed was Green Mountain organic chick starter, and warm water with vitamins & electrolytes.
Week 1 - For the first week, I brooded them in a large plastic container with a 100w heat emitter and/or light bulb. I also used a 17watt seedling heat mat - radiant heat flooring for chicks! They loved it and seemed to always sleep on the heat mat area. They had some minor problems with pasty butt which I first, erroneously, treated with molasses based on poor advice obtained on BYC. :( I then read more threads, wised up, and switched to apple cider vinegar, about 1 tablespoon in their quart waterer. I also treated the pasty butt by carefully picking the pasty droppings off the backside of the chicks, and rubbing their little chicken butts with antibiotic ointment.
Week 2 - I moved them out to the 4x6 a-frame chicken tractor when they were a little more than a week old. At this age, it was a little challenging for them to get up and down the chicken ladder, so I had to build some additional steps out of bricks, so that the chicken ladder could hang less steeply. They had problems learning how to use the chicken ladder. I kept the chicken tractor close to the house, and used the 100w heat emitter, plus the seedling heat mat, to keep them warm. We had some cold nights with frosts during this time. Our frost-free date in my area is the very end of May.
Week 3 / 4 - I moved the chicken tractor around my own very small yard a several times, moving it every couple days. The chicks would eat the grass bare in this time, and were pooping up a storm. I continued to use the heat emitter on colder days, and the seedling heat mat regularly. By mid June (age 4 weeks), it was warm enough and the chicks had enough body mass/ feathers, that they were ready to go without heat.
We ran out of the 50 lb bag of chick starter at the end of week 4, and I bought a 50 lb bag of organic turkey crumbles (21% protein, less than 1% higher than the conventional grower crumbles but 2% higher than the organic grower crumbles.)
Week 4 / 6 -