Hi- This is my first posting. I apologize for being so long winded- I'm going to say some things that seem to run counter to conventional wisdom and I don't want to be misunderstood or step on anyone's toes. If you dis agree or have a better idea thank you in advance for your suggestions. The trick to keeping chicks alive and growing is to keep them clean- I've noticed most of the frantic questions about dying chicks concerns confined birds. Get them out on grass with dirt and bugs and sunshine. Clean means spread the fertilizer over a broad area. Don't let them go hungry Don't let them ever go thirsty Find the right birds for your circumstances- Here you can say the challange is to raise this type of bird in this environment or you can say: for this environment, this bird is most suited. I bought an assortment of breeds to see which ones do best - the less satisfactory, I'll replace with the preferred breed. I'm kinda new to this whole chicken thing- Last summer, I raised my first batch of 18 mixed run leghorn/sex link crosses. I've got 4 left- we ate 10, gave away a " stealth rooster" and a litter of puppies got the rest . I've got 3 hens and a rooster. I average 19 eggs a week. They have the run of about 5 acres and sleep in a tree in the front yard. They have a house they use in cold or rainy weather. They have a nest box in my tool shed. They won but, I can find the eggs. We also have 4 fuzzy-legged roosters that have to be kept apart. We put them on leashes and stake them out in the yard- No they are not fighting cocks, I got them at a swap meet: 7 roosters plus the cage for $5.00! Sold- gave away 3. March 22, I purchased 25 mixed heavy pullets from Estes http://www.esteshatchery.com/ in Springfield, MO. I picked them up at the hatchery and got home with 28 - had one weak one that died the next day. We burned the carcass- burying a possibly infectious carcass doesn't sound like a good idea. Dogs or other scavengers might dig it up and spread pieces around- not good. I used a 3'x3'x18" plywood packing crate with 4" of clean straw and a 150w heatlamp clamped in the middle of one wall (to keep them out of the corners) I covered the box with a salvaged window. At night I covered the top with an old quilt and tarp. When I changed the water and feed, I'd partially uncover the window . I work outside close to the brooder so I checked on them .. ok I had trouble NOT watching them As the day warmed, I'd open the top a crack for air - I'd watch the chicks to see if they were cold or too warm. In the afternoon, I'd close the top and cover it up about sundown. It got below freezing a couple of times but they made it ok. If they were cheeping they were too cold- I'd lower the light and fluff up the straw- I'd also feed them a warm mash on cold nights. They'd eat and make a puppy pile buried in the straw. On dry days, I let them out on the ground- I lined up a "frame" of cinder blocks and covered that with a salvaged patio door. They had a mini-green house, got to forage and catch some rays It also let the cats get used to seeing them, establishing their place. Once the temp got up to the 60's in the daytime, we moved them into a bigger pen. I wrapped a Round bale feeder (metal frame cylinder 4' tall x 8' diameter) with chickenwire and a 25'x4' vinyl banner. Turned the thing upside down and covered the bottom- now the top with plastic film. I used 2x4's to suspend the light, feeder and waterer . You can raise and lower the banner around the bottom to regulate the temp. and drafts. You could do the same with a few T-fence posts and chicken wire- Use zip ties to attach the chicken wire they are easy to cut off when you change things. It was early in the gardening season so I was anxious for the straw bedding and swapped out about half every couple of days- I cleaned the waterer and feeder everyday with hydrogen peroxide and added a tsp of wild grape wine vinegar per gallon of water. Once they were in the bale feeder cage, I moved the round pen half a diameter daily. This kept them on clean grass. I've moved them into the yard at large. They are doing well. I'm sure I'm doing everything wrong- but it seems if you watch the birds and follow your instincts you'll do ok.