Am I on the right track?

birds4kids

Songster
May 15, 2015
443
51
101
I would rather be told I am off track than find out the hard way, everyone makes mistakes and I see forums like this as the way we try and help others avoid repeating ours.

Looking to start a small home flock, more hobby/pets than production. Learning for the kids etc.

Found some local sellers that have Black Copper Marans, Easter Eggers and Olive Eggers which we are interested in.

Hit Fleet Farm tonight got some
probiotic and electrolyte combo packs,
pine shavings,
44gallon tote,
bag of the unmedicated starter feed
galvanized feed and water bases to be used with mason jars.

I believe I have what I need for heating them but if needbe I will go back and buy the heating pad. Will be in a well sealed garage, temperature stable.

Any problems with the breed combo?
Supplies?
Anything I completely missed?

I know buying local I wont get vaccinated birds and I understand that straight run probably half will not be the right gender.
hmm.png
I also understand there is some biosecurity risk getting chicks from a couple sources.

Like I said though this is pets/hobby not a production flock we will take our chances.

Let me have it.
 

CHICKLOVER69

Chirping
5 Years
Jul 13, 2014
150
5
58
Sulphur, Louisiana
read up in raising baby chick section. I would get a heat lamp with a 100 watt bulb and a temperature gauge to make sure you can have the needed temp on one side but cooler on the other. That way if they get too hot they can move away from the light. Everything else looks good to me. Temp is the most critical the first few days of life. Would also start on their coop and run, cause they will outgrow the tote/brooder very quickly
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
26,987
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
I'd not spend the money on the heat lamp. I've always used a heat lamp. Found it terribly difficult to regulate, especially when brooding in my cold garage or basement. Tried the SunbeamXPress heating pad this year, and will NEVER use a heat lamp again. Check out Blooie's thread regarding heat pad brooding. It provides the chicks with a system that so closely mimics the heat provided by the broody hen. My second batch of chicks went out to an unheated coop at 1 week old with their heat pad. They spent the first 2 nights under it, and since then have been sleeping beside it. I'm in central Maine, zone 4. Some nights have gotten down to mid 40's since they went out. They are perky, growing like weeds, are much calmer than heat lamp chicks (IMO). I think they do so well with this system b/c they have natural sleep/wake cycles instead of being under bright lights 24/7. They also have the natural cycle of running under their "broody" heat pad to warm up, and then back out to explore the world of "normal temps."
 

Cacique500

Songster
6 Years
Jun 2, 2013
441
118
181
Atlanta, Georgia
For heating you may also want to take a look at the Brinsea Ecoglow - we used it and swear by it. very low power usage, no risk of fire, and the chicks do all the regulating on their own.

For supplies, you may want to get a small med kit going - Corrid (especially since you're going non-medicated starter), blu-kote, styptic powder, apple cider vinegar (with mother - Bragg's), and I'm sure there's a few more I'm forgetting. You may also want to get a bag of chick grit so you can start with solid foods when they're ready.

Also read through the forum and search for any questions you can think of - pretty much 99.9% of whatever you need has been answered before - great resource here!

Bedding - there's a lot of ways to do it. We went with washed river sand and sweet PDZ - doing it over again, I would go with 100% PDZ. It's super easy to get a scoop (or make one) to sift out the poop and keep the brooder clean. They poop a lot :)

I'm sure you already have these, but cotton balls came in to play as well for poopy butt. If that happens (most likely will) get them on the probiotics/ACV/Yogurt and it should clear up pretty quick. We still had several days and multiple chicks to clean up in the sink.

One other tip - spend a lot of time with them and get them used to your hands - you can hold some food for them and they'll get used to the hands as a treat factory which makes them easier to handle later.

Here's a video of me feeding them and the brooder setup we had.

 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,058
19,431
857
Southeast Louisiana
It’s not nearly as much about supplies as techniques and what to watch for. You already have more supplies than I normally start with. I don’t do the probiotics. Read through the Learning Center on the top of this page to take advantage of others opinions and experience but expect conflicting advice. There are many different things that can work which means there is no one right away to do much of anything where everything else is wrong. There are a lot of right ways to do about any of these things. For example, look through the brooder section. You will see a lot of different brooder set-ups, some with totes and some using other things. Some brooders are in the house, some in a garage like you intend, some in the coop or other outbuilding. There are a lot of different ways to warm the chicks, different ways to feed and water them, different bedding used.

I don’t know how many chicks you intend to get or the physical dimensions of that tote. Lots of chicks are raised in totes like that but they grow really fast. They can outgrow it or fly out of it really quickly. Be prepared. In my opinion, your main goals with a brooder should be to keep it dry and to only heat one area, letting the rest cool off as it will. A wet brooder is a dangerous brooder, both for disease and even foot damage if they stay wet. If you can keep one area warm enough but other areas cooler the chicks will self-regulate. They will go to the areas they are most comfortable. Ideally that is all over the brooder. If they are too cool they will bunch up near the heat, too warm they line the wall as far from the heat as they can get. If it is about right they will play in the cooler areas and go back to warm up when they need to. They probably will sleep in a group near the heat, not because they are cold but more that they like each other’s company. Watch your chicks and let them tell you how much heat they need. That’s much more reliable than trying to keep everything a specific temperature.

Your breed selection is fine. It should give you some really interesting eggs and they should get along well. You are correct that you can expect cockerels. You need a plan for those. Don’t count too much on them being 50-50 though. My hatches are more likely to be 2/3 cockerel or 2/3 pullet rather than split down the middle. Last year one hatch was 14 pullets and 7 cockerels. Another was 9 pullets and 3 cockerels. I’ve had plenty where the majority were cockerels.

I venture to say the vast majority of us that hatch our own chicks do not vaccinate them for anything. I’m not opposed to vaccinations, especially if you know you have a specific problem in your flock, but a lot of chickens are never vaccinated and don’t have problems. It’s not something I’d be over-concerned about right now.

One of your risks in raising them is Coccidiosis. The bug that causes Cocci can live in the ground anywhere but it thrives in warm damp soil like the Gulf Coast, in the bottom of a wet brooder, or in a wet coop or run. You need to learn the symptoms and what you need to do if it shows up. What normally causes the problem is the chick eats some of the oocysts (eggs) that cause it, they hatch in the chicks gut, and the number gets out of hand. After two to three weeks of exposure they develop an immunity to that specific bug so it’s not a bad thing for them to be exposed to it at a young age as long as the numbers don’t get out of hand. The way I manage this is to feed them some dirt from the run where the adults live while they are in the brooder to expose them to it but keep the brooder dry enough that the bug does not thrive. By the time they leave the brooder and hit the ground they already have immunity. It’s also very important to keep the water very clean. With your waterers change the water out completely every day. I don’t use medicated feed but some people do. It does not wipe out the Cocci bug totally, it allows enough to live so the chicks can develop immunity, but it reduces the numbers that reproduce so the number is less likely to get out of hand. You still need a dry brooder.

There is one supply you don’t mention that you need. If it’s not prepared, get your coop ready now. They grow awfully fast and you may need that coop a lot sooner than you think. If you can provide heat in the coop, you can start them out there instead of in your garage, but with your kids you probably want them more accessible to start with.

Good luck and welcome to the adventure. It’s a fun ride.
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
20,622
15,031
821
Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
It’s not nearly as much about supplies as techniques and what to watch for. You already have more supplies than I normally start with. I don’t do the probiotics. Read through the Learning Center on the top of this page to take advantage of others opinions and experience but expect conflicting advice. There are many different things that can work which means there is no one right away to do much of anything where everything else is wrong. There are a lot of right ways to do about any of these things. For example, look through the brooder section. You will see a lot of different brooder set-ups, some with totes and some using other things. Some brooders are in the house, some in a garage like you intend, some in the coop or other outbuilding. There are a lot of different ways to warm the chicks, different ways to feed and water them, different bedding used.

I don’t know how many chicks you intend to get or the physical dimensions of that tote. Lots of chicks are raised in totes like that but they grow really fast. They can outgrow it or fly out of it really quickly. Be prepared. In my opinion, your main goals with a brooder should be to keep it dry and to only heat one area, letting the rest cool off as it will. A wet brooder is a dangerous brooder, both for disease and even foot damage if they stay wet. If you can keep one area warm enough but other areas cooler the chicks will self-regulate. They will go to the areas they are most comfortable. Ideally that is all over the brooder. If they are too cool they will bunch up near the heat, too warm they line the wall as far from the heat as they can get. If it is about right they will play in the cooler areas and go back to warm up when they need to. They probably will sleep in a group near the heat, not because they are cold but more that they like each other’s company. Watch your chicks and let them tell you how much heat they need. That’s much more reliable than trying to keep everything a specific temperature.

Your breed selection is fine. It should give you some really interesting eggs and they should get along well. You are correct that you can expect cockerels. You need a plan for those. Don’t count too much on them being 50-50 though. My hatches are more likely to be 2/3 cockerel or 2/3 pullet rather than split down the middle. Last year one hatch was 14 pullets and 7 cockerels. Another was 9 pullets and 3 cockerels. I’ve had plenty where the majority were cockerels.

I venture to say the vast majority of us that hatch our own chicks do not vaccinate them for anything. I’m not opposed to vaccinations, especially if you know you have a specific problem in your flock, but a lot of chickens are never vaccinated and don’t have problems. It’s not something I’d be over-concerned about right now.

One of your risks in raising them is Coccidiosis. The bug that causes Cocci can live in the ground anywhere but it thrives in warm damp soil like the Gulf Coast, in the bottom of a wet brooder, or in a wet coop or run. You need to learn the symptoms and what you need to do if it shows up. What normally causes the problem is the chick eats some of the oocysts (eggs) that cause it, they hatch in the chicks gut, and the number gets out of hand. After two to three weeks of exposure they develop an immunity to that specific bug so it’s not a bad thing for them to be exposed to it at a young age as long as the numbers don’t get out of hand. The way I manage this is to feed them some dirt from the run where the adults live while they are in the brooder to expose them to it but keep the brooder dry enough that the bug does not thrive. By the time they leave the brooder and hit the ground they already have immunity. It’s also very important to keep the water very clean. With your waterers change the water out completely every day. I don’t use medicated feed but some people do. It does not wipe out the Cocci bug totally, it allows enough to live so the chicks can develop immunity, but it reduces the numbers that reproduce so the number is less likely to get out of hand. You still need a dry brooder.

There is one supply you don’t mention that you need. If it’s not prepared, get your coop ready now. They grow awfully fast and you may need that coop a lot sooner than you think. If you can provide heat in the coop, you can start them out there instead of in your garage, but with your kids you probably want them more accessible to start with.

Good luck and welcome to the adventure. It’s a fun ride.

X 2 on all points. It can be easy to become overwhelmed at the vast amount of knowledge and the many conflicting opinions on how to do this whole chicken thing - a lot of the things that folks do are unnecessary and take what should be an enjoyable new venture and turn it into one big, stressful, expensive and ultimately miserable experience. There are very few areas of chicken keeping where there are straight up, black-and-white, one right/one wrong way of doing things. Take it all in, put your toes in the water and give yourself a bit of time to go through a couple of cycles of trial and error and you can start to find the bits and pieces of what everyone else does that fit for you and your flock and work for you.
 

birds4kids

Songster
May 15, 2015
443
51
101
Going to start maybe 10 and see what is left after any cockerels and mortality.
All good points thank you. Will look it over on a bigger screen tonight. Buying coop materials tonight.
 

birds4kids

Songster
May 15, 2015
443
51
101
Woodworker by trade, 2 weeks will be enough to build a tractor. I knew the tote was short term, and know a tractor won't do come winter.
Had frost this morning so I wanted to keep them indoors and sanitary at first.
Interested in the sand thing for bedding.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,001
122,953
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I use Quickrete brand fine bagged sand mixed 3-4:1 with Sweet PDZ in brooder and on roost boards, works great.
Metal mesh basket to sift roost boards, lined with window screen to sift brooder....poops go in buckets then offsite for composting








Make your coop big.....think about an extra section or two with permanent people doors and temporary wire wall section(s).
Best design decision I made to have that extra enclosure for isolating rogue cockerels, growing out chicks to integration size, keeping broody safe but in sight of flock.
See My Coop page for example.




Best of cLuck...Have Fun!!
 

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