First time owner -- nervous & excited!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Breezy_Living, May 19, 2011.

  1. Breezy_Living

    Breezy_Living Out Of The Brooder

    92
    0
    39
    May 19, 2011
    Northern California
    Today we're picking up our chicks, after my 3yr old comes home from preschool and I admit that I am nervous but excited! We finally live in a place where we could even consider chickens (moved from apartment to house a few months back only 5 minutes away) and a friend is giving us her unused coop tomorrow.

    I did some researching online but things are finally becoming real! I just end up seeing so many random "my chick suddenly died without reasom" posts across the 'net and I want to make sure my little gals don't up the same way.
    We are getting 2 Rhode Island Red and 2 Barred Rock to add to our family! Husband doesn't want more than 4 or 5... for now. [​IMG]

    By the way, what's the best material to put over the top of their makeshift home while they're still chicks? We have a cat and dog, and while I don't worry about the dog (he's a gently herding Welsh Corgi) that we have trained for service purposes, of course the cat may see them as a meal while they're still young. I want them safe while either of us is at work in case it gets knocked over or something... and in general want the other pets at a safe distance when we're busy.
     
  2. ninabeast

    ninabeast Chillin' With My Peeps

    775
    7
    121
    Apr 10, 2011
    Upstate New York
    I have a Border Collie and two mousers, so we put a large cardboard box brooder inside my old Great Dane crate (3'x4'x5'). The girls are just about ready to go into their new coop, and we've had no problems.
     
  3. Buff-Island-Australorp

    Buff-Island-Australorp Chillin' With My Peeps

    192
    9
    101
    Apr 1, 2011
    Bixby, OK
    Welcome aboard. I became a chicken owner in March, so I'm still "wet behind the ears" too.

    Some advice I would offer is try not to get too attached to the gals, especially when they are young, and more susceptable to danger. Not that it's a bad thing if you do become attached, but it sure makes it a little easier to deal with the possibility of having to cull one, re-home one, or accidentally kill one. And having to cull or re-home is just part of being a RESPONSIBLE pet owner.
    As for the bedding, I used pine shavings from our local feed store from the time I brought them home. I was never told to use paper towels, as you may hear others use.
    Also, If your coop can offer everything your house can offer, there really is no need to keep them in your house after about the first week of owning them. (i've read where they keep people awake, they make their house dusty, they make their house stink, etc...) If your coop is large, just partition off a smaller area, put out the heat lamp, keep them fed a watered, and turn them loose. After about the third week, you might expand their area. (again, if you have a large coop) If you have a smaller coop, after a couple weeks, turn them loose to the whole thing, and give them access to the outside run (if available) as long as you feel it's safe enough to keep out predators.
    I've had my chickens for about 2 months now, and so far, the newness has not worn off. You'll learn something new every day by watching them.
    Good luck.
     
  4. epeloquin

    epeloquin Chillin' With My Peeps

    627
    14
    141
    Mar 11, 2011
    Western Massachusetts
    Sorry, I have to disagree with Buff-Island. We began building our attachment with our girls (3 Barred Rocks and 3 Rhode Island Reds) and we're very glad we did. The Rocks are much more attached to us and love to be with us. the Reds are a little more aloof. The like to sit with us but do not like to be picked up. We put our hand out and they'll walk on or "wineglass" them (slide a hand underneath their body with their feet dangling below like a wineglass stem). They are a month old now and we just love them. They are such a delight at that young age...ENJOY them!![​IMG]

    As far as keeping them safe, I use poultry netting and I fasten it in place over the box opening with hand clamps I got for $.99 from Home Depot. although in our case it is not to keep them safe from our cat. He is 18 and doesn't mind the chickens at all. They walk right up to him and on him and he couldn't care less. We use the netting to keep them in. When we want to let them roam I remove the netting and the roost on the edge of the box. See pics below.

    Again, I am sorry but I have to disagree with Buff-Island. We are brooding six chicks and everything is FINE. I use pine shavings for bedding and a waterer and feeder that I bought at the feed store. I police the brooder for poo at least twice per day. I check their food and water probably five times per day or more because they have a tendency to poo in their food and kick shavings into their waterer. I do have them elevated on stainless steel mixing bowls (duct taped on) and it helps. Plus having them in the house aids in close monitoring and relationship building.

    Don't let anyone discourage you from building that relationship from the get go and brooding in your home [​IMG]. It's not like you're brooding two dozen chicks where it could become unsanitary.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    34,028
    462
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Some people choose to make pets of their chickens, and some do not. There's no right or wrong here, just variations in approaches to chicken management. Personally, I prefer to try taming them, but find it works better with some than others. As for losing one or more young chicks, that happens, too, just as it may arise that it seems the right thing to do to put one down. You may be lucky and never have either happen -- I hope not.

    There are also various opinions on brooding in your home. If you do, there will be dust from chicken dander, shavings, and poop, and a certain amount of odor. They can be brooded outside the house (garage, shed, coop, etc.) in a perfectly safe and healthful manner if you wish, although it takes some planning.

    If you're going to have them in your house with your dog and cat, I'd recommend putting them in a room where you can close the door while you are away. It can be difficult to secure a brooder from a dog and cat unless you've built a wood and wire brooder for the purpose.

    Remember, it's not unusual for someone to join a community like this because they have a chicken with a problem they don't know how to deal with, or a chicken dies suddenly. I've had chickens for years and have never seen the vast majority of things that are posted about in our Emergencies section.

    Probably the major reason people lose chickens, other than old age, is predators, and the family dog is a common one -- just to forewarn. And cats will certainly take chicks, though usually leave adult chickens alone.

    Good luck with your chicks, and have fun!
     
  6. Breezy_Living

    Breezy_Living Out Of The Brooder

    92
    0
    39
    May 19, 2011
    Northern California
    Thanks to everyone for the responses! This certainly seems to be a great place to be, especially for a newbie like myself. We got home about a half ago ago with our little "guys" and surprisingly enough my husband, of all people, named one already! And here he thought he would be neutral... they've already won him over a bit!

    We introduced them to the dog and cat, and used a few of Ceasar Milan's training tips. (I know not everyone likes his show but he showed a couple of good techniques for introducing new livestock).

    I really like the "netting" idea and just like you would any other new pet, you have to change some of the tactics to help everybody get used to each other. We have a closed off laundry room we can put them in (I think I will switch them to a taller box when they wake from their nap) when our work times overlap in case the cat gets out of the room -- that's her 'space' as she's a little skiddish and likes having a safe retreat. Right now we have them in front of the fireplace since the cold season is practically over and it's out of the way of furniture and children play areas.

    Once they got comfortable in their new home -- pecked around the pine, ate some food, drank some water, inspected the thermometer -- they're all just sleeping in their food now. Is it normal for them to sleep often? (Guessing it's like any "baby" animal who sleeps often while growing.)
     
  7. Buff-Island-Australorp

    Buff-Island-Australorp Chillin' With My Peeps

    192
    9
    101
    Apr 1, 2011
    Bixby, OK
    Let me re-phrase some things I mentioned above in my earlier post to the OP. Instead of me offering you advice, I should have just told you how I approached chicken ownership. Maybe it sounded like I was telling you that's how you had to do it which is totally false.
    I'm sure you're wise enough to read up on the basics, and wise enough to take it all in and then do what you feel is best.
    My chickens and I have bonded since they have been outside in their coop. When I get up in the morning, I open the pop door and they wake on their own time. When I return from work in the afternoon, I open the run door, and let them out to range about the yard. When the street lights come on, they put themselves to bed, and I close up shop for the evening. While they are out and about, I'll usually feed them a treat, such as cheerios, bread, or other small things. Last night, I fed them spaghetti for the first time, and they provided me much entertainment with that. A couple of them are willing to let me hold them, and most will come sit on my leg or lap as long as I don't touch them.
    I have a chicken with major cross beak (top beak and bottom beak go totally different directions) I feel sorry for her, but she's not suffering and if she ever does, I'll handle it knowing nature had a different plan. Otherwise, she's one of the girls and even has a name "GIMP".

    I share all of this with you to let you know that even though I don't raise my chickens in the house, and I distance myself to a degree from becoming too attached to where I couldn't handle having to cull or rehome one, it is ok to raise them as pets and raise them indoors and that others that respond are free and willing to share their stories as to how they raise theirs.

    Again, good luck.....they're a blast to have around and will provide you with some great entertainment. The eggs you get in a few months are just a bonus.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by