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Geting and Raising Chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Pacey Hillson, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. Pacey Hillson

    Pacey Hillson Out Of The Brooder

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    It's almost that time of year when the grass goes green and chicks start hatching. this spring/ late winter I will be getting 2-4 chicks. I want to get an ameraucana , a silkie, a jersey giant and an australorp. I think I should start with two and then get two more the following year because I don't want egg production to slow down as the older group stops laying. would like some advice on what birds you would recommend? What are some ways that you raise chicks? what is the best brooder? what brooder do you use? how do you like to keep chicks warm?
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Ah, yes, spring is springing! I would suggest a minimum of 3 chicks to start with -- this way, if anything happens and you lose a bird and/or one turns out to be an "oops" male you are not left with one lone bird. Even if you decide after that you really only want to keep the two you can sell the third (or any others - because 3 is just the minimum I would suggest -- I like to start with at least two of any breed I want one bird of, that allows me to select the one I like most and allows for loss/mis-sexing) at "coop ready" age and use an asking price that covers the purchase of all three of the birds.
    I suggest checking out the Mama Heat Pad thread by @Blooie --- it is a way of brooding/warming chicks that most closely replicates the natural process of having a mother hen and allows a natural day/night cycle in your chicks. Will your coop have electric or be in a location that using electric via an extension cord is an option? If so, brooding in the coop is a great way to go, imo.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Everything you are asking calls for an opinion. We all have different opinions and different experiences so you are likely to get a wide variety of responses. Just keep that in mind.

    Before I can recommend any breeds I need to know your goals. It sounds like you want egg production. What else do you want? Does egg size or color matter? Do you want different colors of egg shells or chickens? Do you want hens that go broody or tend to not go broody? You might go to Henderson’s Breed Chart and see what they say about breed tendencies. I know it can be hard to determine what you really want when you are starting out, but a look through that chart may help you. There is probably a huge number of different breeds that will make you happy.

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

    A Silkie is usually bantam and will lay a small egg. I consider them a “special-needs” chicken because they can’t fly. Lots of people have them and love them, but their lack of flying can cause uses with roosting or sleeping in nests. They are also know to go broody a lot.

    The Jersey giant is a huge chicken though the eggs are often not especially large. They are kind of late maturing too. Again some people love them but they are not the chicken I’d choose for egg laying.

    I also suggest at least three to start with. Chickens are social animals. If you start with two and lose one there are issues. Also, integration can be a problem when you add new chickens to your flock, especially if space is limited. If four is your maximum, I’d start with four. Egg production will be a bit sporadic whatever you do anyway. They will molt and stop laying while they replace their feathers. Egg production doesn’t totally stop as they get older but it does decline. Some can continue to lay an egg a week for several years. One year’s difference in age isn’t that much.

    What do you plan to do with your older hens? Will they be pets and die of old age or will you replace them as egg laying declines?

    How we brood chicks can vary a lot. I like to brood in the coop with a heat lamp. I have 22 in my brooder in the coop right now. Others like to brood outside using other heat sources. Some like to brood in their house. Some like to use an attached garage. There is no one right way with all the others wrong. It’s just too wide open a topic to get real specific. You might spend some time up in the “Learning Center” at the top of this page reading up on a few of those methods. Most hatcheries have instructions online. It’s a good set of questions but it might be easier to answer if you do some research and ask more specific questions about certain methods.

    Good luck and welcome to the adventure. It doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it sound.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. LadyVictorian

    LadyVictorian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with getting more than 2. Even the breeder I got my silkies from said no less than 4. Thus how my 2 silkies turned into 4 silkies.
     
  5. Pacey Hillson

    Pacey Hillson Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the information.
     
  6. Heron's Nest Farm

    Heron's Nest Farm Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    For production: Gold Star, Black Star and Leghorn.
    Of course for sheer loveliness I love Orpingtons, Wyandottes and Silkies/Frizzles.

    I like to raise my birds from 1-20 days in a large plastic tote. I find this easy to clean up. I then transfer my birds to a "nursery pen" that's about 3'x12' with lights suspended in it. I grow the birds until they are completely feathered in there and then transfer to the pullet house. Of course I raise about 300 birds a year! I use 250 watt heat lamps that I suspend with clamp lights in the plastic tub and they hang from the lines above in the nursery. I keep it simple.

    Sounds like you have a small space. You should ask how many eggs you need a week. If you plan on keeping these long term and you can only house 4 hens I would wait 2 years to get your next set. Production will drop, but your hens will live 4 years at least and you should space hens according to the length you will keep them--thus my suggestion for the 2 year spread.

    Have fun with this. It's a little scary at first, but these little gems know how to be chickens. they come out of the shell so dang ready to live!
     
  7. Pacey Hillson

    Pacey Hillson Out Of The Brooder

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    I could house many birds but want to start small, I think I'm going to start with 4 chickens. thanks for the opinions and advice.
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    What will you be doing with your birds when their laying days are over? If you are the type of person who will not cull those birds, I strongly suggest that you avoid the production birds. (hatchery sex links which go by many names: Star, Link, Comet may be in their names) They lay well for a couple of seasons, then often succumb to reproductive issues. And, even if you do cull your birds, you might be happier with a couple of heritage breed birds. They have a bigger carcass.

    Do you want to hatch chicks? If so, a silkie is a good option. but, if you don't see that in your future, you may want to avoid this breed. While they are cute, they are notoriously broody. Broody hen = no eggs. And they usually don't perch like the rest of your flock will.

    What size coop are you building? Plan it to house more birds than you eventually plan to have. This will allow room for spring flock expansion and dealing with a broody hen, or a sick bird, integrating chicks into the flock, etc.
    Plan on a minimum of 4 s.f. in coop and 10 s.f. in run per bird. Also, make that coop tall enough to accommodate deep litter (10" of litter) as well as 18" above the perches, and 18 - 24" below the perches, with top of nest boxes being below perch height. If your coop is large enough to allow some multi height play areas, that will help to curb winter time aggression. Some people put a card table or similar item in the coop. I like to do hay bales. 2 bales on the floor, with a third bale spanning over the top of them, enough room between the bales for the chickens to have a tunnel to pass through. I place plywood under the top bale to avoid any toppling accidents.
     
  9. Pacey Hillson

    Pacey Hillson Out Of The Brooder

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    Honestly I haven't decided wether I'm going to cull the birds or let them live out there days. I'm not picking any production breeds. I'm think I'm going to get a jersey giant, an australorp, an amaracuna and a silkie. I should probably mention that I don't know wether I'm going to get a jersey giant hen or rooster yet.Thanks for the advice and opinions.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
  10. LadyVictorian

    LadyVictorian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would say if you are looking for a productive bird silkies are not the way to go. They are a cute pet but since they go broody so often you won't get many eggs from them a year like you do with the Jersey Giant and Australorp.
     

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