Just Ordered Chicks (for October 2nd)! Ack!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by akelley, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. akelley

    akelley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Conroe, TX
    I am totally, 100% new to chickens. Dogs, cats, reptiles, fish, etc. I have down, but not chickens.

    So what did I do the minute DH told me he would have our coop ready by the end of October?

    I ordered 25 chickens, of course!

    Since we moved to our acre property in March I have been researching them like mad, so I feel pretty prepared. DH and I have thoroughly discussed my/their coop needs, and we know what we're doing with our surplus roosters (freezer camp). I have several ideas for brooders (but could use more) and am going to start gathering supplies from TSC in the next week or two.

    What do y'all use for brooders? I want to brood them inside until the coop is finished. We have lots of predators, plus I live in Texas, so it's still hot-as-blue-blazes in October. I'd feel more in control of their temps if they're inside.

    I was thinking of using large rubbermaid tubs (we have a bunch of them) with wire mesh lids, but I think with this many birds I'd have to split them up after a few weeks. What are your thoughts on this? Would it make re-introducing them in the coop more difficult? Or am I just imagining things now?

    Also, what do you recommend having in your baby chick first aid kit? I'm planning on having Corid and Sav-a-chick on hand. Do I need anything else?

    Oh yeah, I ordered 12 SLW and 12 Ameraucanas (or EEs, as they're from Ideal). We wanted dual purpose birds that would supply us with eggs, as well as give us planty of meat once it's time to cull the roosters or the girls too old to lay.

    I'm SO excited!
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If you split up the chicks into multiple brooders, they develop as different flocks and integration can be dicey at the 6 week mark when you'll need to merge them into a single coop.

    ANYTHING can be used as a brooder. Anything from a huge watermellon box from a grocery store to temporarily using the utility trailer. Anything that is BIG. 12 chicks look so tiny when they are first hatched but they will grow into large, flying, jumping active little juveniles at 5 weeks and the more space, the better.


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    If you use a large brooder, you're not in a panic when they grow so fast. If any hiccup happens in the construction of the coop, and life often works that way, you're not under the gun if there is a slight delay. Enjoy.
     
  3. akelley

    akelley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was afraid that might happen...

    Thanks for the ideas! I think I'll probably grab a kiddie pool for cheap somewhere and add height to it with cardboard.

    How many heat lamps do y'all think I'd need with 25 chicks in a setup like that?
     
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I'd make two heat circles, hot spots, warm spots, whatever you want to call them. If that "spot" isn't large enough, that's too many chicks, oft times, and piling on, which is dangerous, can occur.

    If your ambient garage temps or barn temps or wherever you're brooding them, stay around 45F, in October, you'd be fine with the 125 watt variety of red flood lamp in the traditional metal shroud. If temps fall into the 30's, you might need a traditional 250W infrared bulb or two. It's just flat out better to have wattage options available. Easier than fussing around lowering and raising the fixtures all the time.

    Chicks self regulate. If they're cool, they huddle under the lamp fixture. If they are hot, they stay away or just on the fringes of the light circle. In my photo above, you see a timber which I use as a lighting bar. To that I attach a 90 watt, a 150 and a 250. This allows me to custom match the wattage needed for the current temps. These bulbs spin your electric meter enough. No sense wasting energy.
     
  5. hdmax

    hdmax Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I really like the trailer idea. I have a 8" by 16' trailer with 2' side boards, The next time I need a large brooder, I will have to remember that. Once the chicks get a couple weeks of age, you could move in outside for a while each nice day, place it under a tree, or just wherever to get them acclimated to the outdoors. And with one or two 12V car batteries and an inverter you wouldn't need to run an extension cord for power. Add a solar panel to charge the batteries making it completely portable.
     
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    And.....

    One time cleanout. Take the trailer out to the compost area or out to the garden area and sweep it out. Done. Work smarter not harder, as they say.
     
  7. akelley

    akelley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Now I wish we had bought that trailer when we got our new riding mower...
     
  8. celticgarden

    celticgarden Chillin' With My Peeps

    Welcome to the madness :)

    My hens are a year old, I've been where you are! I second the recommendation to setting up a brooder big enough to hold the chicks until the coop is done. More considerations:

    Do you have a cat/dog/kid that might pose a danger to the chicks? In that case a secure top will be needed for the brooder.

    I highly recommend the Brinsea ecoglow warmer or similar. It's a non-light heat source for the chicks. Lights disrupt their sleep cycle, some find that the light makes for noisy chicks all night long. Only problem in your case may be the size you need for 25 chicks. The ecoglow is also energy efficient and doesn't pose a fire hazard. That alone was enough to sell me on the extra cost. With a curious cat loitering about and the kids in and out of the brooder I did NOT want to risk a house fire!

    Which brings me to my second warning (if you can call it that). Dust, dust, dust! Such a fine, powdery dust as I've never seen before. The kind that CLINGS to everything. Pointing a vacuum in the general direction does NOT suck it up. A close swipe over every single surface: floor, counters, probably walls, was needed. I brooded in the "finished" basement chicks I hatched last Fall. They were in a screened top plywood box fashioned from a shipping crate. The dust went everywhere, 20 feet and more away. Better for you to be mentally prepared :)

    Not sure if hurricanes are a problem in your area but decide ahead of time how you might keep the chicks warm in a power outage :) My first attempt at hatching ended up around the time hurricane Sandy wiped out our power for a week. It actually impacted the mail so that the hatching eggs arrived but the incubator got stuck in some post office. I wondered to myself what would I do if I actually had chicks.

    A good book is nice to have on hand. I love Harvey Ussery's book "The Small Scale Poultry Flock." I'm a fan of a natural approach, I got a lot of confidence from that book. I recommend reading here on the forums of BYC about fermented feed. I highly recommend it for chickens of all ages!

    I'm getting 4 chicks from Meyer Hatchery around Sept 18th. This will add to my flock of 7. It's an addictive hobby! Where did you order yours from? Straight run?
     
  9. akelley

    akelley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Conroe, TX
    Hi celticgarden, thanks for all the advice!

    I got my chicks from Ideal; they're close to me, so I'm hoping that equals less time in the mail. I did get them straight run; we're hunters, so processing meat is nothing new; plus DH has volunteered to actually "dispatch" them for me.

    I appreciate the warning about the dust. I'm going to house them in a guest bedroom, and I think I might throw a few drop cloths over the furniture... At least I'm no stranger to regular vacuuming-we have four dogs, so vacuiming is never "optional".

    I already have the book you mentioned; I loved it! I'm thinking of grabbing Storey's Guide this weekend. You can never have too many books.

    Good luck with your new batch; I'm looking forward to getting into this hobby!
     
  10. celticgarden

    celticgarden Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds like you've got it planned well enough! I made a promise to myself when I started this that I would learn to butcher birds. Culling is necessary in my opinion. Sure enough, one of the orpingtons I got from my 1st hatchery order was a roo. I steeled myself, he was a sweet bird but he couldn't stay for all the usual reasons. He went into the garage with me one day and came out in a roasting pan. Delicious was my assessment. Then the best chicken broth I've ever had. Believe me, if I had land I would raise small batches of chickens just for the table. But on 0.4 acres I would be asking for trouble. So pullets it is for now.

    I'm dreaming of having some acres for retirement. I'd love some Nigerian dwarf goats too! As long as DH gets a pool and a pretty, artsy little town nearby I should be able to have that land.

    In the mean time I'll have fun with my hens :)
     

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