New Chick 101

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Flock In Texas, Sep 10, 2016.

  1. Flock In Texas

    Flock In Texas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2016
    I'm building my first chicken tractor. I figure it will be ready in about a month. I have an idea of what breeds I like based on pretty colors, egg laying frequency, egg color, and local availability. I figure popular local breeds will do well in my climate. I plan to start out with 4 chicks. I'm looking at Wyandottes, Barred Rocks, Ameraucanas, and maybe a Speckled Sussex. I want variety, but it'd be nice to get them all together from the same place. We'll see.

    I live near Dallas, TX, so a month from now, I'd expect the daily temps to range between 70- 85 in the day to 50-60 at night. I have a large dog crate that will be suitable for 4 chicks as a brooder. Obviously, they will need food and water, but I have a few questions.

    1. What do they eat? I've heard of oyster shells in their food and scratch mix, but what do you start a week old chick on?

    2. At what age can I let them graze secured in the bottom of their tractor run? I want my 4 dogs to be introduced to them at a very young age and seeing them grow up may help them become used to chickens. I wouldn't mind letting them graze during the warmth of the day and bring them in at night before it cools off.

    3. At what age will they be more robust and be able to handle cooler temps and move into their coop permanently? We rarely see any freezes until after Thanksgiving. I figure they will be about 6-8 weeks old by then.

    Thanks in advance for the advice.
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Here's is a link that will answer all your questions and then some. Specifically, baby chicks eat something called chick starter feed. It is a granular formulated for young chicks. You can obtain it at farm and ranch stores. Oyster doesn't need to be given until at or near laying age (5-6 months). It's purpose is to harden the shells of the eggs they will lay. Scratch grain shouldn't be given for several weeks and thinly sparingly.
    Chicks can graze outside in the tractor On warm days but will need heat until they start getting some feathers (explained well in the Learning Center). When they are fully feathered 4-5 weeks, they are fine in the coop and without heat.
  3. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Here's a tip if you want to be sure of your chicks being able to cope well with cooling temperatures as we approach winter. Brood the baby chicks right outdoors in the coop with a heating pad. They will become acclimatized to cooler temps right from the beginning and there will be no need to worry as we see a cool-down.

    Chicks brooded outdoors typically feather out much sooner than chicks brooded indoors under a heat lamp. Also, being brooded where they will be living their adult lives, they won't need to face the stress of transitioning from an indoor brooder to the coop outdoors.

    See the thread on "Mama heating pad for the brooder" on this forum for specifics. You can also read my article on outdoor brooding linked below this post.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Flock In Texas

    Flock In Texas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2016
    I like this. I can put a heating pad inside a nesting bucket in the floor of the tractor. If they get too hot, they can roam the coop. They will have 32 s.f. to roam until I can let them graze in the heat of the day.

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