I want to raise chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by fortkevin10, Dec 27, 2013.

  1. fortkevin10

    fortkevin10 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 27, 2013
    Hi. I got an egg incubator for Christmas and I will soon hatch some chickens. I haven't ever raised chicks before and I just want to know the basics for raising healthy, happy, and nice chickens. Also, I would like to know what supplies are necessary from the time they hatch to the time they are moved out of the brooder. Thanks!
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I would really encourage you to look over our learning center, in the brown band at the top of the page. There are writeups there on all the basics.

    I would also ecourage you to have your coop ready before you get the chicks, and to consider doing the brooding outdoors.

    It's very helpful if you would put a general location in your postbit. Just go to Profile at the top right, then find the location box in the "edit community profile" area. Climate has a lot to do with a lot of questions that folks ask.

    Here are a few of my favorite links for folks just getting started.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop (particularly for cold climates)

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/163417/please-show-me-your-hot-weather-coops/0_20 (for warm or moderate climates)

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/735392/redneck-fungshui-brooding-17-degree-temperatures/0_20 (brooding outdoors in almost any climate)
  3. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2012
    You can find out all the technical info you need from the various information resources available and books, but here's a few things the books probably won't tell you.

    -The chicks will grow a lot faster than you ever imagined, so all of their living accomodations need to be in order before you start. You may think you have time to build the coop after they've hatched, but there is no time. They will outgrow their brooder before you can say "What the cluck?" and you will want to have their coop and run ready for them when that happens.

    -Even if you handle your chicks every single day and treat them with nothing but love and kindness, some of your chicks may grow up to fear, distrust, dislike, or even flat out hate you. Don't feel bad if your hand-reared babies don't grow up to be your best friends--it's not a reflection on you or your parenting skills. Some chickens just aren't friendly.

    -That being said, some chicks are. Contrary to what a lot of people believe about chickens (And what I believed too, before we had them), chickens are capable of affection, and may even want to be held, cuddled, and pet. Others will enjoy your company, but not want to be handled, and some will follow you devotedly around the yard, even when treats aren't involved. When I am purchasing chicks at the store, I focus on chicks that run towards me when I approach the brooder, avoiding chicks who run away from my hands in fear. Those that are friendly as chicks are most likely to be friendly as adults. (And don't believe that old wive's tale that the friendliest chicks tend to be roosters--all of my friendliest chicks have ended up being pullets!)

    -Chickens are simultaneously far tougher and far more fragile than you expect. Baby chicks need to be kept VERY warm to survive their first fragile weeks on earth, but adult chickens are far more tolerant of cold weather than hot (With the exception of a few breeds). Their coops won't need supplemental heating or insulation except in extreme conditions (and I mean, EXTREME!). My chickens live in an unheated coop, even when temps dip below zero, and they handle it just fine, as do chickens in regions with more severe winters than mine. Their combined body heat and thousands of years of adaptation serve them well, but come summer, they may need help cooling off. Anything over 90 F can be hard on a flock of chickens, and in climates like mine where the summer temps regularly peak over 100, it takes some effort to keep my feathered friends alive and well.

    -Chicks poop a lot. They are very cute, but if you cuddle them, be prepared to be pooped on. It's just a fact of life.

    -Chickens in general poop a lot. If you use a good, absorbent bedding and lay it on thick in their coop, the smell will be kept to a minimum. We have had to improvise on the bedding based on what our funds allow, but generally any kind of dry organic matter will serve the purpose well. (Do NOT use cedar shavings as they are harmful to chickens' respiratory systems) We have used pine shavings, straw, leaves, and even grass clippings with success, but you may decide to go with another bedding material. Some chicken keepers prefer to use sand, which is a very good choice if it is available to you.

    -Chickens will die. Some eggs won't hatch, some chicks will pass away in the effort of hatching, some chicks will develop complications and pass away after hatching, and sometimes things will go wrong, even when you do everything right. You can give yourself an edge by researching common problems for chicks and chickens, stocking up your chicken first-aid kit, and monitoring your chicks carefully as they grow, but you may still lose some. It is important not to take this to heart and remember that even with all of the care in the world, some chicks simply aren't strong enough.

    -Chicks don't stay cute long. You know that stereotypical image of the cute, fluffy chick? That lasts for only a few days before their feathers start coming in and they start looking like something a cat coughed up on your rug. The "awkward teen phase" will last a few weeks before their feathers come in fully, at which point they'll look like perfect, miniature chickens. Their colors may change considerably from the point when they first get feathers to when they complete their first molt of adulthood. This is normal. They will also continue to peep like babies, even when they've feathered out and look like grown ups. They won't start clucking and bucking until they're a few months old.

    -Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for aggression. It may seem cute and funny when a young rooster challenges you for the first time, but if he learns he can attack you without consequences, he will keep doing it. It's not nearly as cute or funny when a full-grown rooster with nasty, sharp spurs is attacking people and drawing blood. We laughed it off when our first rooster Milton started trying to fight us, but within a few months, we had a full-blown terror on our hands. When he started escaping the yard and attacking our neighbors, that was the end of Milton's reign, but it didn't have to get that bad. Research how to deal with aggressive roosters early so that you can nip their behavior in the bud, and if they turn mean anyway, be prepared to send them to the stew pot. Remember, even when you do everything right and handle the chicks every day, they still may grow up to be cranky poopy pants. A mean rooster is not necessarily a reflection on your parenting skills--sometimes, it's just plain MEAN.

    -Chickens will fight, especially when they're young. It's called the pecking order and it's normal and healthy behavior. Unless you have two chickens beating each other bloody or a chicken being bullied to the point of injury, there is no reason to intervene. You may need to isolate the majority of your roosters into a separate coop and run, both to give the hens a break and to keep the boys from fighting over mating privileges, but it depends on how many chickens you have and how serious you are about your endeavor. We have 7 mature roosters in our flock of 40 or so chickens, and they cohabitate quite peacefully for the most part. I'd recommend having a second, smaller coop and run that you can isolate an injured or overly-aggressive chicken in if you do have any problems.
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