Chicks, Brooder, Coops oh m...

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by AnnikasMommy, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. AnnikasMommy

    AnnikasMommy Out Of The Brooder

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    I have raised horses from infancy into their golden years but for some reason I just don't know where to start with chickens. I have researched the laws for chickens in our area. I have looked at different coops trying to determine which would be ideal for us and what size. Then I get here and I'm reading about brooders for the babies. Ok so I don't just keep dragging this out what should be the very first thing I do before I bring a poor chick home to my house? Oh and then my husband brings up the dogs. We have two labs, they are sweet and never have hurt anything that has been in our yard. How do you make sure we don't have any issues that will land me on the naughty mommy list and my daughter in therapy? :) Any insight anyone can share with me would be greatly appreciated. I have googled till I'm cross eyed.
     
  2. henless

    henless Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm in the same boat as you. I've had horses all my life, but chickens are a different story. We had chickens when I was a kid, but that was so long ago that it doesn't count any more!

    I don't have my chicks yet. DH & I have been working on our pen. I would like to have that finished before we get chicks. Seems like we are always having to build something in the rain, sleet or storm to protect something. This time I would like to have some sort of shelter finished or almost finished.

    You do need to put them in some sort of a brooder the first few weeks. I plan on building one inside my coop, but I will be keeping my chicks in a large watermelon box the first couple of weeks.

    As far as your dogs, I have that same problem. We have 4 dogs. I hope everything works out all right with them, just have to wait and see.

    Just make your pen as stout as you can to keep the dogs out, and always supervise when they are around the chickens. If you can get your dogs to accept the chicks, then hopefully they will help with the wild predators that will be prowling around at night.

    Lots of info on this site. Good luck with your chickens!
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Days before the chicks arrive, you need to have the brooder set up and run it to make sure it works. My ideal brooder is oversized for the number of chicks and has heat in one end. The rest is allowed to cool off. That way they find their own comfort zone and you don’t have to worry about overheating them or keeping the entire brooder one perfect temperature. And it has draft protection so a breeze doesn’t hit them directly.

    You need a way to feed them and a way to water them. There are a huge number of ways to do that. You need to have feed on hand. The brooder needs bedding too and it needs to be in a predator-safe area.

    That’s it. That’s all you need. Many people do a lot of other things, most different, and that doesn’t hurt. But that is all personal preference. You don’t really need them.

    You need to train the dogs to leave the chicks alone. Teach the dogs that the chicks are yours, not their playthings. Some take to it naturally. Some dogs have such a strong prey drive that’s virtually impossible. I showed the chicks to the dogs but did not let them play with the chicks. If the dogs showed any aggression, I spoke to them quite harshly. The biggest challenge is when a chicken runs away from a dog. That dog just wants to chase so badly. So be with the chickens whenever the dogs are around and pay attention until those dogs earn your trust.

    No one can give you any guarantees on how any specific dog will act. Some are always a strong threat. If the dogs accept the chicks they can become their great protectors. Good luck with that.

    Like Henless said, get your coop ready early. Those chicks grow really fast. All it takes to totally blow a schedule is a little bad weather or a family emergency.
     
  4. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The brooder is the #1 thing you must have before getting chicks, this will be their first home. Brooders are easy and can be made out of anything. For ease in the end I like to use cardboard boxes with (dollar store) shelf liner on the bottom. Once a day you pull the shelf liner out, hose off, let dry (5 min at most), and put back in. This also reduces having to replace bedding ($$$) and reduces the chances of slippery floor and thus spraddle leg. I have tried every kind of bedding in a brooder and the shelf liner is by far the easiest way to go for me. You need a heat lamp and bulb. I suggest the red bulbs because the white ones keep them peeping all night long (I brood in my house). Make sure the heat lamp has a ceramic base not plastic and it has a 4 wire cage on the front ($8 at TSC and helps prevent fires). Chicks peep loudly if they are too hot or too cold. Many people say it has to be a certain temp in there, for my sanity I don't worry about it. I have nice high heat on one end of the brooder and the other end is cool with food and water in the middle. My chicks choose what temp they want by moving to a different spot in the brooder. When a hen hatches out chicks they will run around outside and even in the snow and when they get cold they just go under mama and warm up. When warm they go to running around outside again. This is why I say they don't have to have the exact temps that others have.

    You can have them in a brooder for up to 6 weeks. I put mine outside during the day (weather permitting) for a few hours at 2 weeks. You don't have to but I free range mine and having them in a pen outside learning how to scratch as early as possible is best for my flock. While you have yours in the brooder (if not before) you can take the time to build your coop. Coops cost a lot pre made and never fit the hens the builders say they will. No matter what you will end up with revamps and rebuilds of coops. The first one tells you what you would have liked better such as height, roost placement, change in feed or water containers, ease of access, and ease of cleaning. By the time you have your second coop it should be almost perfect if not perfect in its self. If you get to a third coop it is most likely that chicken math took hold and you just need something bigger. You will want to look up poop boards, sand in the coop, and the deep litter method (compost pile in coop) to see if any of these ideas please you. After having them for a while I find these to be the best methods for your ease in keeping a clean coop.

    Now all dogs are different and there is no way we could tell you if your dogs will get along with them or try to eat them. I suggest making sure your dogs are well fed and supervise them at first at least. That being said, I have 2 active bird hunting dogs that get along with my chickens very well. When I first got chickens I took my hunting dogs and put them in a pen, then I sat down with the chicks in a box next to me. When I got both dogs to lay down I would pull out a chick and sit there while they watched it (they know better then to take something from me). Then I would put the chick on one of their backs and make them stay. I did this every day until the chicks were big enough to go into the coop. These dogs now protect my flock and will lay down with the chickens and even groom them. The dogs are still bird hunting dogs but they have accepted the chickens as part of their pack. I can't say this will work for you but it is what worked for me.

    We could give you all the advice in the world and you could read until your eyes are permanently crossed but there are some things that you just have to learn by doing it. Chickens are not hard to raise and care for. Most of the things on here are from mistakes we have made, we all make mistakes it's a part of life. Don't fear making a mistake we are always here for you if you need to know something. I suggest you join your state thread for local advice as well. Coop design has everything to do with how your area is. I live in a very hot and humid area and the entire state shuts down if there is one single snow flake so insulated coops would be stupid for me but an open air coop would be great, whereas someone up north would be the opposite. Good luck with your venture!
     
  5. AnnikasMommy

    AnnikasMommy Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much everyone. I really appreciate it. It has been interesting looking at all the diff brooders and coops on this site for sure. We have a shed that isn't being used anymore that is in prefect water proof condition and can easily have nesting boxes and a run added to it if my husband will relinquish it. :) If not then I was thinking about building something similar to it. I live in NWFL and this year has been a mecca of ice and rain for us. (To my northern friends please don't make fun of this southern gal for flipping out about three days of ice lol) Guess I'll also have to come up with a hurricane plan for our feathered children to add to the "what needs to be done". So get the coop built, steal a brood idea from the link and have plenty of start up on hand. Also what kind of chicks does everyone prefer? On of the local backyard chicken raisers here has RIR so that was what we were looking at I haven't seen anything else in our area to be honest with you.
     
  6. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I love my RIR's, they are my most productive layers. I have true breeds and they took 9 months before they laid their first egg then all went into molt right after. Since then they have laid 4-5 eggs a week each threw winter with no extra light, I call that a success. Production RIR's start to lay earlier and are still strong layers but they don't seem to take normal breaks making their egg laying life shorter.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    What are your goals for chickens? Why do you want them? That could affect which breeds might best suit you. We’re all different.

    I suggest you go through Henderson’s Breed Chart to look at general characteristics of the various breeds, then look at Feathersite to see what they might look like. Narrow it down (if you can) then do research on your choices. We all have our favorites for our own reasons. My flock is a barnyard mix, commonly called mutts on this forum, instead of a specific breed. Some I suggest you look at are Australorp, Delaware, Ameraucana, Orpington, New Hampshire, Rhode Island Red, Sussex, Rocks, and Wyandottes. Maybe a mix, red and yellow, black and white would make a pretty flock. Others will give you a totally different list.

    Henderson’s Breed Chart
    http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html

    Feathersite
    http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/BRKPoultryPage.html#Chickens
     
  8. ten chicks

    ten chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with Ridgerunner,first decide what your main reason is for getting chickens,

    I chose silkies and orpingtons(both very docile/friendly breeds,both love to be held/cuddled) as my reason was for pets/fresh eggs,in reality they are pets and i really do not care if they lay eggs or not,love my girls/boys regardless.
     
  9. AnnikasMommy

    AnnikasMommy Out Of The Brooder

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    Is there information that tells you which feathered friends weather better in different areas or are they all pretty universal? I am on the Henderson site right now and I've bookmarked the feather site for sure.
     

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