Just ordered my 1st chicks....

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by besjoux, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. besjoux

    besjoux Chillin' With My Peeps

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    After lots of research I decided on 4 golden laced Wyandotte's, 4 barred rock, and 4 Easter egger's. Now for the questions....

    I live in Michigan and we expect to have our shipment the last week of June. It should be quite warm here. Do you still use a light? Or only at night? Obviously, I am going to have one on hand. Besides starter food what else do you recommend? I have a lot more time to research and hopefully enough to build our coop. We plan on using our horse troughs for a brooder since we already have them and then should move them in a few weeks to the coop that we built. We might not have the run completed but would that matter right away? Or should we do it all right away?

    Any other tips that you can think of or helpful links? I've been reading a lot. I have very little knowledge but have taken care of a friends hen's before. She did have free range with a rooster (though I'm not doing a rooster because I have young children and don't want my kids to be scared to go outside). Haven't decided yet if we will do free range. Probably not until they are fully grown so next spring at the earliest. Not sure if you can start free range in the winter or if that makes no sense. Either way, we will have a run to fall back on.
     
  2. Aeropennchick

    Aeropennchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello and welcome!!

    I think you should still get a brooder light. The chicks need constant warmth until they have most of their feathers, if they don't have a hen to hide under when they get chilly. The recommendation is 95 degrees for the first week, and then drop it by 5 degrees per week until it is the same temp as the outside. The chicks will huddle together if they are cold, and spread to the outside edges of the box if they are too warm, so watching them will tell you if your temp is right.

    If you chicks are vaccinated for Marek's, I read you aren't supposed to take them outside or around any other chickens or birds for 10 days to let their immune systems respond to the vaccine. Then you can start taking them outside for field trips. They can develop cocci infections if they have exposure to soil with lots of cocci in it (and the concentration is higher in the warmer months), so some people recommend the medicated chick feed for the first few weeks to help prevent that.

    We didn't complete our run until the chicks were nearly a month old - they sort of followed us around outside. Look into what predators are in your area (like hawks and coyotes) to help plan what type of run you want to have. Even if you free range, they will need a place to hide at times, and a place where you can easily catch them for treatment.

    Good luck and have fun!!
     
  3. besjoux

    besjoux Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, was going to purchase a light and other supplies. All the basic brooder stuff since we probably will order more eventually. My neighbor also had a weasel problem and has lost everything so I need to make sure we are building fort knox ;) Probably do an above ground coop.

    Also, do you have a website you recommend for supplies to get started? We are wanting to keep on budget so trying to save where we can. The birds are the inexpensive part I am finding (hmmmmm, similar to horses ;)

    Really looking forward to this whole process except building the coop. Worried it's going to take a really long time.
     
  4. besjoux

    besjoux Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We also bought our chicks from Meyer so they'd ship closer to home. I'll have to check on vaccinations. I wasn't aware of that process.
     
  5. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know you said you were trying to save money where you can. Check Craig's list or the penny saver/local free classified paper for used supplies like chicks feeders/waterers and the like. for the run, it depends on the kind of predators you have. Hardware cloth will keep out weasels. It will also keep out rodents. We used welded wire with 2x4 holes, and smaller hardware cloth on the bottom half, and I wish we'd used it for the whole run to keep out the darn squirrels.

    I got a free washing machine box from an appliance store and cut it to 3 feet high. It's huge, and will be big enough until they are ready to move to the grow out coop before I integrate them to the rest of the flock at 5 weeks. I lined it with contact paper so I can wipe it down between bedding changes. I reinforced the corners and seams with duct tape. It will be thrown away when we're done. But if you use a water trough you should be fine. I am not familiar with how high the sides are, but be careful, they figure out how to hop vertically really fast!

    If you plan on brooding multiple batches of chicks, I highly recommend the ecoglow chick brooder from brinsea.com. It uses only 18 watts and is expensive initially at around $70. Maybe you could find a used one on Craig's list. If you have high electric rates, it will pay for itself after a month of running a 150 watt (or higher) heat lamp. It's also no fire hazard, which was important to me. If not, then a regular brooder lamp will be fine. Red bulbs are nice, but not a necessity. They also might be too hot in June. I've only ever brooded mine in April/May so I'm not sure about that.

    If you know a place you can salvage wooden shipping pallets, they could really save on some of your coop building costs. There are some examples of pallet coops in the coop section of BYC. Slap some plywood on the sides and paint it, and you're done. You also salvage some metal roofing. As long as you use gasketed screws in the same holes that are already in it, you'll be fine. We used plywood under the roofing. We had some leftover shingle roll so we put that between the roof sheathing and the metal roofing. I really would go for a larger sized coop, especially if you live where it is snowy. My girls were walking about in 15 degrees, but there was not much snow this winter. I shoveled the run, but they still hung out indoors most of the time. A bigger coop that's made with less expensive materials is the way to go.

    For the winter, pick up a 25 watt gallon size heated pet bowl from petsmart or buy one online. A quick BYC search for heated water bowl will stear you in the right direction. I unplug mine at night. If I want to sleep in on a Saturday, I leave it plugged in. I do not have heat or insulation in my coop, but I manage humidity with plenty of ventilation. Managing drafts is important, but don't put plastic up unless you have a draft blowing directly on the birds. I have an $8.00 thermometer with humidity gage from lowes. It helps me figure out if I need to open the windows for a bit to change the air. I have a fresh air open-front coop. (check out the thread titled 'woods style coop in winter'). I live in northern NY. Only frostbite issue I had was a girl with longer wattles dipping in the water, and before I figured out the humidity/dewpoint issue.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  6. Aeropennchick

    Aeropennchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry I can't recommend a website - we bought most of our stuff from the tractor supply co. and are building our coops ourselves.
     
  7. gingerpeach22

    gingerpeach22 Chillin' With My Peeps

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