How hard is it to raise baby chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by rd200, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. rd200

    rd200 Out Of The Brooder

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    New here. And to chickens in general. I have other animals but new to chickens. I am having a dilemma. I don't really want to raise chicks because I hear it's hard and time consuming. I really wanted to buy older chickens (like 18-20weeks) so that I can just get them and they are ready to lay soon. We are wanting 12 or 16 chickens just for our own needs. we eat TONS of eggs and there are 6 of us in our family. The problem is, I can't find any chickens that are the right age & breed so I guess I will have to go the chick route to get the breeds I want. So how hard/time consuming IS IT to raise chicks?? What other special equipment would I need as opposed to just getting them almost laying?? Heat lamp, waterer, feeder, what else? I just don't have much $ to spend of buying special equip that I'll use once or twice for chicks. What's your advice on raising chicks and how much time do you spend w/them everyday??
    I'm in WI if there are any hatcheries you would recommend~ Thanks much!!
     
  2. Araucana16

    Araucana16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, lets take this slowly.

    I'm assuming that your, say, 15 hens, will be bought from a general hatchery. Lets say mypetchicken.com. Since you are only looking for good layers, lets say you go for the brown egg layer's standard. That is $45 dollars, for 15 hens.

    You would need a brooder. For this, you could probably just go to your local grocery store and just say : "Do you have any watermelon boxes, or other large produce boxes I could have?" Places, especially Costco, would probably say sure, and you can take home a totally free brooder.

    A nice brooder lamp is usually $15 - $40. This you would set up over the brooder using a clamp.

    You would use shavings ($7 a bag, usually, and you're looking at one bag a week probably) for the floor, and I would say $10 for the food and water dishes for chicks you can buy at a feed store.

    The feed (medicated chick feed) is probably around $20 for a 10lb bag. (I think?)

    By 8 weeks, you want them outside, but I take it you were already compensating for the cost of a coop. By 18 you should start seeing eggs. By 25-30 weeks they will be coming on at a normal rate. Usually around a dozen a day.
     
  3. Araucana16

    Araucana16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As for how hard it is, I strongly recommend socializing them, which, if you have children and you calmly teach them how to handle the chicks, you'll soon have not only egg machines, but lovely pets. (Trust me, they are so addicting that even if they never laid eggs, I'd want chickens more than life!)
    Each day, you should be prepared to scoop out some of the poop (10 minutes MAX) and replenish food and water. You should keep a close eye on them the first few weeks, but honestly, it's not hard work.
     
  4. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] Glad you joined us!

    I understand your concerns. I loved raising mine from chicks, but I only have four of them and a flexible schedule.

    They don't take a ton of time. Less if you do some research first and are prepared. I spent a lot of time with mine because they were so stinkin' cute that I couldn't leave them alone. [​IMG]

    If you have a shed with electricity, a garage or a basement, that will make it easier initially. They create a lot of dust. I would hate to raise them in the houseā€¦ but folks do.

    You will need something to contain them. I used a metal feeding trough, but then again, I only had four. A friend of mine who raised a large number of them, just nailed some plywood together out in her garage.

    They grow fast.

    Good luck!
     
  5. kris10c

    kris10c New Egg

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    Great thread! We are planning to start out with chicks in the next few weeks so I'm soaking up all the info I can.
     
  6. rd200

    rd200 Out Of The Brooder

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    thanks for the info. The price break down is great! I guess its not that bad. I have tons of large boxes since we just moved. And we don't have a coop ready yet but we will. We have a barn that has 2 pens set up for chickens. The previous owners had chickens a few years ago. But I was going to do a chicken tractor w/large run for them. Would LOVE to let them free range all over our 19acres, but we were talking to our neighbor and he said he used to do that but was loosing ALOT to hawks during the day. So I guess I'll stick with the chicken tractor.

    Does the chick feed HAVE to be medicated? Im assuming its medicated for coccidiosis? I know in larger operations medicated feed is a must in some situations ( I grew up and work on larger Dairy farms) but for a small flock w/ only a dairy goat & heifer running around, is the medicated feed really necessary?? I would rather not feed medicated but I don't want them to die either....:(

    I really wanted some "cool" breeds that lay the olive eggs, really really dark chocolate brown eggs, blues, but im on the fence. My sister has chickens and went with "browns" is what they were called at the hatchery. From 12 layers she gets like 13eggs/day in the summer. So I want good layers but I really want cool looking eggs/chickens too. Is there any thing that fits that bill??? They also NEED to be cold hardy. Especially after this winter. It was horrid in WI this year. I like the Marans and I think Golden laced Wyndottes??

    Also, how many chickens is it recommended per person?? I've heard 2 per person. We eat ALOT of eggs! Like 5 dozen/week. We have 4 kids & one eats like an adult, so every day for either breakfast or lunch (im a SAHM) we all eat Eggs.

    Also, at what age can you tell if they are layers or roosters??? I was going to have a lady hatch some out for me but then I have to take all of them. LIke she would hatch 20 of them, assuming 10 are females 10 males, keep them to 12weeks for me but then I take all of them and get what I get. Which isn't a big deal, but I don't want ot end up with like 4 laying hens only!!

    Sorry for all the questions! Very new to chickens~ Thanks much
     
  7. chiknhurder

    chiknhurder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Have you checked Craigslist for laying hens? You can sometimes find someone with a flock that's getting out of the business. If you get pullets in the 8 week old range, they don't need a brooder. They can go right outside into your coop. Feed them and water them daily. I spend a total of about 20 minutes a day taking care of 12 hens and a rooster but I spend a lot more time just watching their antics, especially when they see me come outside and all run to see what I have. Pullets will cost you a little more than the chicks, depending on the breed, but are well worth it if you don't want a bunch of dusty little chicks in your house. They create a huge amount of dust.

    The first batch that I started with were day old chicks. I put all 6 of them in a large Rubbermaid tote with a welded wire screen on top that would keep them in and the cat out. It also supported the heat lamp. Fresh water daily, whenever soiled and food is all they need. I didn't 'socialize' mine and they do fine. They will eventually come to know you as mamma, or, in my case, the dude with the food!

    You may also want to consider getting your chicks or pullets from a breeder that specializes in the breeds you're interested in. They typically are larger, more robust, healthier birds than the hatchery birds or birds from the local box stores. If you have a hen that goes broody on you, you have the option of allowing her to set on the eggs and raise them for future layers. If that's the case, then you want the best stock you can get.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
  8. Araucana16

    Araucana16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Does the chick feed have to be medicated? As long as you have cocid and save-a-chick on hand, I don't think it's necessary.

    Is there anything that fits the bill? Gosh yes! Say you still wanted your 15 chickens... for a great variety of egg layers, you could have 5 EEs (they lay green/blue/pink eggs), 3 Marans (chocolate eggs), 3 Leghorns (white eggs), and then 4 Wyandotte/Orpington/Rhode Island Red/Australorps (brown eggs). I calculated that out at a normal hatchery like mypetchicken.com, and your girls would be $50 and would ship on June 4th. According to their egg count thingy, you would get 9 chocolate eggs, 20 EE eggs, 15 white eggs, and 20 brown eggs. That would come out to over 5 dozen. The only problem would be finding white egg layers that are cold hardy. Many aren't, but that doesn't mean that none are. And as so many people will tell you, the big problem is NOT keeping them safe in the cold (as long as the coop is dry and draft free, they'll probably be okay), but keeping them safe in the summer.

    How many chickens per person? That's a question that'll really depend. Chickens per my mother... Well all she ever wants to eat is eggs. It's really quite annoying. She might need four chickens. I would only need one. I don't really like eggs [​IMG] I think for your family, 15 would be a good number. As they slow down, you can always buy more hens!

    At what age can you tell gender? Assuming you don't want possibly the worst egg layers in the universe (i.e., Silkies), you can tell by 6 weeks of age without any trouble. Educated guesses - or even sure decisions on gender - can come as soon as one day old! In general, you can get a good idea of what gender by three weeks, and by 6, you'll be sure. By 12 weeks, the second you lay your eyes on them, it'll be super easy to tell, and if you need help, people on here won't have any trouble telling you.


    Oh, and you didn't really ask a question about this, but if you want to free range, you can. Is your land very open? (i.e., no bushes, natural cover, etc..) If it is, you can set up little shelters, like tiny little chicken tents made of wood. #10 on http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/07/11-tips-for-predator-proofing-chickens.html addresses that. And of course, having a rooster who could warn them so they could run to shelter wouldn't hurt! You can always stop free ranging if they keep on getting snatched.
     
  9. chiknhurder

    chiknhurder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Something else to consider is that unless the chicks are sex link chicks, they are sold as straight run. That means you get what you get. I recently purchased 5 BR pullets that were sold to me as pullets. Three of the 5 turned out to be roosters. Not much egg production out of roosters. [​IMG]
     
  10. Araucana16

    Araucana16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Some chicks are. Some are sexed, which is like 95% accurate.
     

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