Info on Purchasing and Raising Baby Chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by tiggirl, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. tiggirl

    tiggirl Just Hatched

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    Hello everyone. I'm posting this again on this thread since I think it is more pertinent to raising babies. We are looking into purchasing our own baby chickens, to raise for eggs and for the experience for our children. We want them as pets. We want to have all the research done, so that we are well informed, ad we are so very excited to begin.

    Biggest question:
    Question 1:
    Where do we begin? We are looking into building the coop first, getting everything set up with a brooder and we want to learn what's best for the chicks.
    We've watched so many YouTube videos etc, but are finding out that the best way is through having mentors to help out and having others with experience to guide us.
    We are located in the Toms River area of NJ. So we have every season and cod winters. We don't have a ton of property but enough and have already looked into zoning etc and we are ok. Looking for copping recommendations.
    Question 2: What type of chicken would be best for a family atmosphere if we want to have affectionate chicks that we can handle? We want the best experience for our family. And we are animal lovers. I heard orphingtons, and blue morans and a few others were friendly.

    Question 3: We plan on waiting until Spring to purchase the babies to give us time to prepare the coop. How long do they remain indoors, etc? How much heat needed in brooder?

    Question 4: When is the right time to put them outside and what types of concerns should we have in our area (hawks, raccoons, cats and other predators)?

    Question 5: What is the best type of Hen house and enclosure? Do we hear them during winter months? There are so many choices on how to house them.

    Question 6: Finally, Where to buy our baby chicks? I know there's so many hatcheries. And we have feed stored within an hour of us. But we read they need vaccines too?

    Question 7: Woming them? And vaccinating?

    Question 8: We read baby chicks must eat dirt/grit for their systems. Why give them dirt and how often?
    There seems like so much and we want to make sure we are prepared. Sorry to be driving everyone crazy. My husband is on here as well. Papasmurf65 so everyone will see his questions as well. Any information that a help us is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
    Melissa
     
  2. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I posted on your other thread, but wanted to comment on one of your last sentences here- you're not driving anyone crazy! People here like sharing their advice and experiences. The only thing that drives people crazy here is when people ask for advice, don't follow it, and then their birds suffer as a result. But people asking for help, that's always welcome!
     
  3. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To answer question four...do you plan to let your chickens free range? How much property do you have, do you have close neighbors? Any type of fencing? The number one killer of chickens is dogs, sadly enough.
     
  4. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had to look back at the dates I took pictures, to answer your questions about taking chicks outside. I got chicks April 4 this year. I live in northern Montana, so it gets cold here, but we had a nice spring and snow was gone by March this year. I started taking the chicks outside on April 15. I would sit on the grass with them and they'd hop on and off my legs, scratch around in the grass, and have fun.

    [​IMG]

    Once they started getting cold, I'd take them back inside. You'll be able to tell when they're cold- they huddle together, fluff up their feathers, and stop playing around. Depending on the temperature, sometimes we'd be out for ten minutes and other times, a few hours. They loved it and it was great bonding because they saw me as their safety, and would run to me if something scared them. They moved out to the coop with the big girls at the beginning of June.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2016
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Welcome! Good questions all! As @Adalida said, questions are always welcome - they are the lifeblood of this site!

    By all means, build first, get chicks second! I made that mistake of flipping that and it was a doozy mistake! My first time with chicks, I had 22 dusty, noisy chicks in this house for 5.5 weeks because we didn't have a coop ready first! Yuck!!

    I like to keep things simple. I now brood all my chicks outdoors in the run, in full sight of the adults, from the start. I don't like heat lamps! They are dangerous, hard to regulate, and keep the chicks awake 24/7. Lots of people think it's funny when the chicks are running around like crazy and then just drop down right where they are for a snooze. I really don't. The poor things are exhausted! But they never sleep at the same time, so just when one drops down to sleep the others (still wide awake) are tromping over him, pecking at his toes and eyes, and before he's even fully rested he's forced to be up again! They also eat 24/7. The chicks I raise have natural day/night cycles from the first - they head for their heating pad when the sun starts to go down and they sleep all night long, just as they would under a broody hen. A full night's sleep, and they are up eating and exploring at sunrise. Here are a couple of links that explain how the heating pad and brooding outdoors from the start work. Other keepers use heat lamps or other means of raising chicks and are very happy with their choice. I'm not trying to tell you this is the only way....just letting you know that there options to raising chicks in the house under lamps.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/956958/mama-heating-pad-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors

    As far as breeds, boy that can sure vary! Generalizations can be made, but just like with anything there can be individual variations within a breed. I had Golden Laced Wyandotts my first time around. Folks said they were mellow and easy going. I couldn't get rid of them fast enough! Bullies with feathers!! Other people claim Easter Eggers can be high strung - yet I'll never be without them and I have two disabled granddaughters (the oldest is 10 and has mild Autism, her sister is 5 and has Spina Bifida and more severe Autism, and has been in her wheelchair since she was 9 months old). I trust all of my Easter Eggers around the girls, and they love the EE's silly faces and colored eggs. So in general I'd say to choose breeds that are good for your climate, and expect that in any flock there may be a stinker or two that you just have to watch. Orpingtons are pretty laid back and do well in cold climates, and I recently added some Ohio Buckeyes to my flock because they are so winter-hardy. Living in Northern Wyoming near Yellowstone Park, I always have to take our climate into account when choosing birds. (So don't even ASK me why I hatched out fragile Silkies for granddaughter Katie - [​IMG])

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-easter-eggers-of-oleo-acres

    Predators can be anywhere...I've seen a family of raccoons come out of a storm drain in downtown Denver. You'll want overhead protection to keep overhead predators out. And of course squirrels and wild birds of any kind - even little sparrows - who get into your coop can really cause problems, eating the food you have out for your chickens and bringing in mites and lice. <shudder> If your ground is too rocky or hardpacked to dig a trench and bury wire to discourage digging predators, you can make an apron around the perimeter of your setup like we did. It's just hardware cloth that we attached to the sides of the run about 2 feet up, then we folded it at the bottom and extended it outward for another 2 feet or so. We secured it to the ground with landscape fabric staples. We were going to put flat rock over it, but the grass grew right up through it and you can't even see it now! Ken can mow right up to the edges of the run, so there's no weeds or tall grass to hide mice and such. It's worked great for us for 4 years now. Don't depend on chicken wire - it's good at keeping chickens in but keeps very little else out. That said, our run is covered in chicken wire, but it's a hoop run made with arched cattle panels and then the hardware cloth going partway up, as I said earlier. In our case the chicken wire covering is just protection against little birds, squirrels, climbing stray cats and overhead predators. You can see our coop build by clicking on the "My Coop" link under my lovely picture! [​IMG] Look in the Coop Section of the Learning Center for all kinds of wonderful coops and runs. We preferred to build our own - the prefab ones we've seen don't even make good kindling and never hold as many birds as they claim!

    As for where to buy chicks, I've personally had very good luck having chicks shipped from My Pet Chicken. There are lots of other places, but if you have a place close by that you can actually go to and pick out your chicks, it's better for them than shipping. Be sure to take a good look around the facility - if you see any red flags at all like dirty coops and runs, sick or even dead birds, or anything else that makes you nervous, don't be one bit embarrassed to get back in your car and let the last view of that place be in your rear view mirror! You never have to deal with those folks again, but if you bring home any chicks from them you'll be living with that choice for years to come. BE COMFORTABLE.....ask questions, and if you don't understand an answer, ask for clarification.

    Vaccinations - ah, ask 20 people and you'll get 20 answers. I used to have My Pet Chicken vaccinate for Mareks. But I don't anymore. I wish I could give you some concrete answer, and I'm sure someone smarter than me will chime in here, but I have such a mix of home hatched and ship chicks that it seemed stupid to vaccinate some and not all of them. I am simply not comfortable doing vaccinations of my home hatched birds. I'm no expert at it and I'm the first to admit that. So it's a personal choice - totally yours - and I don't see a totally right or wrong answer beyond that. Same goes for worming. Some say you'll never need to if you give them garlic. Some say garlic doesn't work and they need regular de-worming. Others, like me, keep a sharp eye on their birds and de-worm only if there is a definite indication that it's needed.

    I think that covers most of your well thought out questions, even if the answers are necessarily vague. Once you get your chicks, you'll begin to learn hands on what will work for you and what advice you decide to ignore or use. You are there, I am not....it's as simple and as complicated as that and you will get pretty doggone good at deciding what's right for you, your flock, your situation, and your location.

    There is a ton of good (and admittedly sometimes conflicting) information in the Learning Center right up in the top bar of the home page. Keep us updated with your progress!! And again, a warm welcome to the flock!
     
  6. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    About to rush out the door so I'll answer this one quick:
    Question 8: We read baby chicks must eat dirt/grit for their systems. Why give them dirt and how often?

    Dirt isn't the same as grit. Grit is small stones, pebbles. Birds have no teeth and can't chew their food, so they swallow grit and use it to help crush their food for digestion. Depending on what you feed them grit may or may not be necessary early on (chick crumbles are meant to be easy to digest). But once they are over a week or so I would give them chick grit regardless of diet so you get in the habit of it. You can either put some on their food or serve it in a separate dish. As they get older you'll need to provide larger grit. If your chickens free range in an area with some rocky soil they'll get it naturally from the ground.
     
  7. tiggirl

    tiggirl Just Hatched

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    We live in a development and only have about 1/2 an acre. We will not be having them free range. We do have 3 dogs. And we have neighbors not only on the sides but also behind our yard.
     
  8. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have an idea of how many chickens you'd like to have? That will give people a good idea about how to advise you on size and type of coop and run.
     
  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    When I was raising chicks in the house (back in the bad old days) I dig up a clump of dirt out of the garden, grass, roots and all, and toss it in the brooder. At first they huddled in the corner like it was a predatory alien come to carry them off, but gradually a brave chick would go over and start checking it out. That was all it took. They discovered the joy of dirt! They pecked at it, they nibbled on it, they scratched at it, and finally, when they had it worn down to loose dirt in the brooder they took dust baths in it. It kept them entertained, gave them very small bits of grit, and exposed them to the pathogens, fungi and other things that they would be on when they went outside.

    Now, as I said, I brood outdoors from the start, but they still get a clump of dirt tossed into the brooder. Chick starter has everything they need in it, and they don't need additional grit, but it's nice to get them started on it so they know how to get it for themselves and have it in their crops already when you introduce treats to them.
     
  10. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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