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First time ever to own a chickens, what do I need to know?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by SFBayArea, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. SFBayArea

    SFBayArea Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2014
    I did some research on this forum and on the net, but have a mess in my mind now what to do with my first ever chickens.

    Lets start from the beginning. I don't have chickens yet. I am building chicken coop this weekend and was planning to get 2-3 Black Jersey Giant and 2-3 Rhode Island Red.
    I live in San Francisco Bay Area and we have a very mild winter. Do you think I should still wait for the spring time to get my chicks?

    I will be purchasing chicks either from local farm or online. Ether way I think chicks well be at least 3-4 weeks old.
    What do I need to take care of the 4 weeks old chicks? For how long do I keep them in the box with the heat lamp? When can I put them into coop? What temperature would be too cold for them?

    Thanks.
     
  2. cackleberrycam

    cackleberrycam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would feed them medicated chick starter feed to help them grow and develop. A good way to know what temperature is good for them is to put the heat lamp in and see if they run away from the heat lamp or huddle under it. If they run away from it, it is to hot and you should raise it. If they huddle under it, then it is to cold and you should lower it. If they are happily running around then it is at the right temperature. I would also give them sugar water for the first day so they get a quick boost of energy. Do not hold them at all for the first 24 hours that you have them so that they do not get stressed out and get sick. The earliest you could put them in the Coop is 6 weeks old. Good luck with your soon-to-be-coming chicks!!
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  3. EmeraldSkye

    EmeraldSkye Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2013
    San Jose, California
    Where in the SF Bay area are you located? I live in San Jose, near Campbell...
     
  4. SFBayArea

    SFBayArea Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2014
    So even-though, chicks will be 4-5 weeks old, I still need heat lamp for them and hold them in the box until they are 6 weeks old, then I can introduce them to the coop?
     
  5. SFBayArea

    SFBayArea Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2014
    I am in Lafayette - East Bay.
     
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    NEK, VT
    It depends on what the person your purchasing the birds from is doing or has done if you need to continue to brood them. If they are still heating 24 hours a day then you probably should ween them from this not put them right into the coop.

    I'm not in your warm climate but come spring hatches only brood for 3 to 4 weeks. I ween them from the heat until they are at indoor room temperature. For me as we still heat in late March/April means the warmest my house is is 65F. My birds are well enough feathered by 4 weeks to put outside (decreasing heat during brooding promotes faster feather growth). Our spring is 50's if lucky and still down to freezing and below at night.
     
  7. SFBayArea

    SFBayArea Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2014
    Thank you Egghead.
     
  8. EmeraldSkye

    EmeraldSkye Out Of The Brooder

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    We got ours at 1 week old and brooded them in a spare bathroom bath tub. Used a clear shower curtain liner with Velcro to keep them in the tub. We strung up the heat lamp with a red bulb on one end. For water we used a large drink bottle with a nipple in it - kept everything clean. This was hung above them using a cheap clothing rod from Target. Here's a picture of what that looked like:

    [​IMG]
    I did eventually switch to a hanging feeder after they dumped their food over a couple of times.

    We got them in October. When they were 6 weeks old (near the end of November) we moved them out to the coop but took the heat lamp out there and set it up in the coop. I put it on a timer so that it was only on at night and also put it on a lamp dimmer so that I could turn it down. I also used the lamp dimmer in the bathroom because it was easier than raising the lamp. Anyway, we gave them the heat outside because it was in the 30s and 40s at night, and then we got that short freezing spell. In time I decreased the heat and then when they no longer huddled on the roost under the lamp and chose to sleep away from the lamp I figured they didn't need it anymore so I turned it off. You could do something like that.

    I read a lot about the heat lamps and learned that chickens see the white light as flickering so it can stimulate them and make it hard to sleep. The red light is a warm comforting glow. So, I went with red. It's a 250 watt bulb but I was able to turn it down with the lamp dimmer (rated for 300 watts) and didn't use all of that. I probably turned it down halfway, at least, and then more as they looked like they needed it less.
     
  9. Misstwixler

    Misstwixler Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm also in the SF Bay Area, I'm getting my chicks Feb 26th, That's when the variety I want come into the feed store. The last two years we have gotten chicks (in Feb) and it's never been too cold for them. I kept mine in the house longer because I was a first time chick owner but now that I've gotten more experience I will probably put mine in the coop earlier than the other two groups we had. We kept ours in a big thick tupperware bin with a heat lamp in our living room. The only smell I had to complain about was when the heat lamp dropped and it started burning the corn cob stuff that I had in with them. I liked having them in the house so I could check on them a lot. We had a water thing and a food thing in with them and occasionally I would feed them meal worms. Now they are spoiled and only want meal worms as snacks. (I've since attempted a meal worm farm) but then they were moved outside and it's been smooth sailing from then on out. They really are a lot of fun !
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  10. Misstwixler

    Misstwixler Out Of The Brooder

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    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014

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