I'm new to chickens... and that's an understatement!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by HeyLady, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. HeyLady

    HeyLady Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 20, 2012
    Well, I became a member here and posted my introduction, so now I'll post my questions. I think this is a good place to start.

    A little history, which is actually a long story:
    My family went to a farmer's market.
    As we were leaving to head home (with no animals!!), my two-year-old daughter looked straight at a man and said plainly, "I want a baby chicken."
    He asked if he could sell us a chick and we said no. I let her get out of her wagon to look for a moment, and then we left him and walked through the crowd toward the gate.
    We were quite a distance from him, and my daughter was on one of those tether straps attatched to my arm so that she wouldn't run loose or get into anything. I felt a pull on the tether and looked back, and the man was handing my daughter a baby chick. Then he ran off. My husband was already at the gate with his arms full of purchases and was hollering for me to come on, but he didn't know what had just happened. I helped my daughter take the chick to her daddy, who was upset that I had gotten her a chick anyway. By the time I sorted out with him what had actually happened, he had grown fond of the little peeper, and decided that we should just keep it. Neither of us has ever owned a chicken, but there is actually a stray one that lives on my parents' hollow, so my daughter is amazed by chickens and has always loved them. Last halloween, she was a chicken. She loves to eat chicken nuggets, and she always makes the "bock bock bock" sound while she's eating (which I find kind of creepy). We don't let her hold the chick unsupervised at all, and we always have a hand on her while she is holding it. She holds it and touches it very gently for a few minutes, and then she tells me that I can have it. She likes to watch it eat and drink, which it does a lot of. My daughter is very gentle with living things, and we work with her regularly to help her stay this way. We have an 8 lbs dog from before she was born and she is careful with her and likes to help feed her. She also had a guinea pig for over a year, but 8 months ago, her cousin asked us if she could have it, and we gave it to her.

    Anyway, so now we have exactly one baby chick. I remember that the sign next to the man's chickens said, "Rhode Island Reds, Golden Comets," and something else, but it was marked out. He only had a few left, and I believe that this one must be a RIR. I don't know whether it is male or female, but I'm guessing by its feathers that it was a week old and is now at two weeks. It has its wing feathers and has sprouted a few tail feathers, but they're short. And last night I noticed just the start of its shoulder feathers coming in on both sides. Am I right? Is it about two weeks old?

    Someone had told us that you can sex the chicks by looking across their spread wing feathers. This chick's feathers were different lengths, so he said it was a girl. Is that a myth or is he probably right? How could I tell?

    I know that she needs the temp where she lives to be somewhere in the 80s and I don't have a heat lamp, so I've been keeping her in the small laundry room in a pet carrier with a space heater, and the room is much too warm for me to be comfortable, so I'm sure it's in the mid to high 80s in there. I also fill a bottle with scalding hot water and put it inside of an old sock and put it in the carrier with her at night for her to cuddle with, just in case the temp drops a bit. Some mornings, she is perched on the bottle, and some mornings, she is running around chirping. She seems healthy to me, but I don't know chickens. I have seen some diarrhea, but I've read that this can be normal every now and then. Her feed is medicated and free fed, and I don't give her anything else to eat. She has water at all times.

    Is there anything else that I need to be doing? What are the chances that she lives? I'm just so afraid that she is going to die because I don't even know her odds and wild baby birds in general don't live without their mother. I know she hates to be alone, so I'm thinking that if I can find someone with another baby chick about the same size, I'll take it, too. But I'm not sure about the sex of mine. I guess either way, if I get a female, they'll get along, right? I would like something that is going to be about the same size, and an egg layer so that they can share food and setup (if mine is a female). They'll just be egg laying pets, I guess. I haven't had any luck finding places that are selling chicks. They all sold out a week ago and aren't getting any more. I guess I need to try to get in touch with some breeders. And even then, I don't know if they'll have what I'm looking for. I tried to give this one away just because I want what is best for her and I just don't know enough about them, but I'm doing my best and if you guys think that I can raise chickens, I think I'd like to try. Any help is appreciated.
  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Oh, you can raise chickens, trust me. I started at age 56.

    You really do need to try to find it a companion, as chickens are flock animals - very social.

    With a single chick, you could put a small mirror with her, and either a small snuggly stuffed toy animal or a feather duster for her to snuggle underneath/inside.

    A single chicken could easily become a house pet - after all, there ARE chicken "diapers.". Honest. Google the term! Or just head over to the BYC Buy-Sell-Trade section and look under "Everything else."

    If she's a couple of weeks old, the critical time for early death is past.

    Handle her often. Check her for pasty butt - poop stuck to her hiney so the vent is closed off. That can kill chicks. However, it's usually not a problem after the first two weeks.

    She doesn't need anything but her medicated feed and water, but you can give her some treats like plain, unsugared yoghurt, or chopped boiled egg as treats.

    Congrats on acquiring a new pet! You will be surprised how lovable chickens can be..... I know *I* was!
  3. kellysmall87

    kellysmall87 Chillin' With My Peeps

    She will definately live. She seems to have a good life with you thus far!

    But what an irresponsible man at that farmers market to give a two year old a chick!

    Basically, I started rearing chickens in Feb this year. I started with two baby chicks - 9 weeks old. They went straight outside in a coup. Bear in mind that I live in England and there are still frosts at night. I provided no heat lamp. They were fine :) they had plenty of bedding and each other to keep warm. They are now about 18 weeks give or take, and they are thriving. Since then, I have got a hen called Gloria and hatched Glorias chick - Lollipop. (That was hard, she was shrink wrapped in the egg... couldn't get out!) Then I saved two Hy-Lines from slaughter - they're 2 weeks old.

    So... to cut a long story short. Chickens thrive! As soon as yours gets its adult feathers, it can go outside. Needless to say, it should be protected from predators at night especially, and locked in a coup.

    Coup wise - a rabbit hutch will do. Somewhere safe, locked up and warm and weatherproof will do. It will also provide a safe place for her to start laying when she reaches maturity. :)

    Chickens dig. The will dig under fences so make sure everything is dig proof. Fencing a bit of garden off for the chicken is a good idea with chicken wire. That way, she wont destroy any plants or lawn. But one chicken wont cause much damage to be fair, if any.

    Bedding wise - sawdust. We use sawdust, a hay like stuff (hay can cause constipation if eaten) and we use shredded magazines and paper for her nest. She loves it. :)

    Treatwise - chickens will eat almost anything. Avoid eggs- it will make her eat her own. But you can grind eggshell for her as a source of calcium. They need grit to help digestion. If shes free range then you shouldn't need to provide it. She'll get it from the dirt and walls, rocks etc. They LOVE mealworms - we use dried. Too many can cause diahroea. They love sweetcorn, normal corn, veg, scraps from the table. They eat meat, bread, potatoes etc. Boiled potato peelings are a fave.

    Digestion - chickens have diaroeha (cant spell that word and i'm an english teacher!) from time to time. Depends if they've eaten slugs or worms etc. They rid your garden of pests. :) Chicken manure is good on plants.

    Hmm.. anything else i can think of? ... Yours will have a red crest I'd imagine... if that goes pale then she's not well. Her eyes should be beady and glassy at all times. If you leave the eggs what she'll end up laying in her nest and dont collect them, she may go "broody" and decide she wants chicks. You could always buy fertile eggs and pop them under her at night and she'll hatch them. They make cute mommys. :) Anything else, im on facebook. Kelly Smallman, blonde hair, white, red top on profile pic. :)
  4. kellysmall87

    kellysmall87 Chillin' With My Peeps

    two week old chick rather ** correction.
  5. RonC

    RonC Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2012
    Sounds like you are doing ok.That is one method hatcheries use to sex them.Also two weeks, maybe 3 would a good guess at the age from the description. Should need about 80-85 now. Lower that about 5 degrees per week. She should have a cooler area she can retreat to if needed. You don't want her to get too hot either. She will need a companion, more likely 2. They are best kept 3 or more. Sounds like another trip to see Johnny Chickgiver at the farmers market, feed store, or our buy-sell-trade section of the forums. Keep her on her chick starter. When she does start eating different solids, bugs and grass, she will need chick grit. Read the forum posts for a few days, there is alot of good info here. We go over the same issues everyday with new owners. Any questions you can't find answer too just ask.
  6. HeyLady

    HeyLady Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 20, 2012
    Gryeyes, Thanks for the friendly reply. I really expected to just get chewed out for keeping it, but I really hadn't much choice. I tried to give her to some people at Tractor Supply who went there to get baby chicks and they were sold out, but they said, "One chick isn't gonna do anybody any good." And they left.

    Now, I'm growing fond of her. (If she's a "her")

    I don't plan to keep her in the house forever! But right now, she's fine indoors. I'm glad the sudden death thing is over. I was worried because she isn't fully feathered. But she's getting them in pretty quick and growing like a weed already. She loves attention. That's a great idea about the feather duster and mirror. I'll do that this evening.

    Hopefully I can find someone nearby who raises chickens and wouldn't care to sell me one chick. And hopefully hubby doesn't get too upset when he sees two in the carrier instead of one. lol (He won't!)

    Hey, you're from Somerset? KY? We're from the other side of Pikeville. :)
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  7. Ourfamilyflock

    Ourfamilyflock Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 19, 2012
    Central Oregon
    I second the find her at least one more companion I suggest 2 or 3. They love company and it s a lot of fun watching them interact, and really 4 chickens isnt any more difficult to take care of than 1. The sooner the better, try to find others close to the same age. Welcome to the family and good luck! You did the best first step you could which is find this website. So many people with a ton of experience and knowledge who are always willing to help!
  8. HeyLady

    HeyLady Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 20, 2012
    Wow, thanks everyone. You must have posted while I was making my last post. You guys are so knowledgeable about chickens. I can tell you anything you need to know about a lot of things. Chickens is not one of them. lol But I hope to learn, and maybe this will become my new obsession. :)
  9. kellysmall87

    kellysmall87 Chillin' With My Peeps

    It certainly became mine! They are fascinating to watch, and breed. I was told the other day that chickens are "like watching a fish tank". You'll find yourself watching for hours. :)
  10. WI FarmChick

    WI FarmChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 22, 2012
    I am glad you are thinking of keeping her/him lol......They really aren't that hard to take care of.....I too would suggest at least 2 more.... they won't be any more work than 1.
    Having 3 hens would supply your family with plenty of eggs...once they start to lay them.

    They can help you get rid of your kitchen scrapes....they love them.
    There is a "treat Chart" in the learning center that can help you decide what / if anything you would like to "treat" them with.

    Too many treats...Like with children are not always a good thing. they get too spoiled....lol
    The only thing that I would watch is the handling of the chick, they are a little fragile at this point "drops" happen unfortunately.

    Have Fun that's the main thing. [​IMG]

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