newbie, many questions, kinda nervous!


In the Brooder
9 Years
Feb 22, 2010
I don't have my chicks hatched yet, they are going to be incubated in my class and are being shipped out to my house today, and should arrive Thursday. Anywho, I have some, actually, a lot of questions. When should i transfer my chicks from the brooder to outside? at what age can the chicks start eating regular food, or is there a certain food process (like going from starter to regular, then add scratch and then table scraps)? Do the chicks need special attention when they go into the coop? What should i put in the coop and the run? I was wondering if the chicks need to go to the vet at certain ages, or do they even need to go to the vet? should the chicks be kept out of the cold outside since they are young or does it matter? How do I introduce the chicks to their new home? sorry for all the questions, they will be my first chickens ever! thanks so much!!
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Ok first off, you'll need to have a safe brooder that is draft free and you'll need a light preferably a red heat lamp. The chicks will need to be kept at 95 degrees for the first week, the drop by 5 every week after that. Don't worry if you don't have a thermotor. Just watch them... If the huddle together under the light, they're probally too cold, if they move away and are panting.. too hot. you have to keep them in a brooder with a heat source until they are fully feathered out (about 8 weeks) they have a hard time regulating their body temp. When you set up their water, use warm water. It will help them stay warm. You can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinagar to the water. It will help them absorb all the nutrients better. Now, you'll need to feed them chick starter. It's a crumble. Kinda like baby food for chickens. They'll eat that until they begin to lay. As soon as they lay an egg, switch them to layer pellets. Now, if you're going to give them scratch or treats, make sure you offer chick grit. It's a special small size for chicks. the regular size is too big. You may consider offering yogurt mixed in their food for a treat. They love that! Now, in the brooder, you'll want to use paper towels on the floor for the first few days, its easier for them to grip onto to walk. Later you can switch to wood shavings. They sell this in big bales at rural king, tractor supply, and feed stores. Do Not Get Cedar... Very important. the fumes from the cedar is toxic to chickens and can kill them. If it was warmer outside, you'd be able to put them in the coop with a heat source.. I hope this helps! Hollar if you need more help. Good Luck and Have Fun!
Gonzo has good information on brooding and feeding, that's what you want to do. I use shredded paper or hay as bedding instead of wood shavings because the shavings are way too expensive here and I have plenty of the paper and hay on hand anyway.

As for when they get to their coop/'ll want nest boxes if you have hens that will lay eggs. You don't need that right away, obviously, but before they start laying. Those will need some kind of bedding...I use hay leftover from my other livestock because it's one thing I have plenty of. You will also want perches for them to roost on when they sleep. They should be able to sit on them comfortably; so make sure they are not too thick or too thin for the birds' feet to grip. And of course, feed and water containers. Some sort of bedding on the floor like wood shavings or straw or hay is also nice, as it gives them an activity--digging around in it looking for something to eat. Depending on your weather and how old the chickens are when they go out, you may want to start with a heat lamp in the coop for them and then wean them off of it. When they get old enough to lay, you may consider adding a light to your coop to help extend their laying season in the winter, as egg-laying is controlled by day length. You should check on them at least once a day, of course, to be sure they are all doing well. If you have not already, you may consider some type of roof over your run to keep predators away. We covered ours with chicken wire because the hawks started getting in and eating chickens.

Most people don't take their chickens to the vet except maybe for an emergency or serious illness. They don't usually go for regular check ups like you would with a dog, cat, or horse. Many vets wouldn't even know much about treating chickens, honestly. Because they are so cheap to replace and most people aren't willing to spend hundreds of dollars on vet bills for a chicken, they don't get taken too seriously in the veterinary profession.
To what gonzo said it's 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (the organic kind, not distilled) to 1 gallon water.

They will need heat for at least 6 weeks until they feather out completely. They may need it longer depending on the temps in your area. It's good to transition them to colder temps gradually.

As far as what temps to start with, 95 is a guideline. I have found that most my chicks prefer the 85-90 range. However, I have some "tough" BCM's in the brooder that are 2 weeks old and they like the 70-75 range. In fact none of them are under the light. They sleep away from it. It is important for them to have the option to get away from the heat if they want. You can overheat them.

I buy a 50# bag of starter, and feed it until it's gone. For my 5 chicks I just raised, it lasted 12 weeks, then I put them on Flockraiser. I've found that there is less waste with Flockraiser then there is with layer feed. I just make sure to have oyster shell available for them. (the layers need this for strong shells) Scratch is like candy to chickens and should only be given as a treat, not a source of food. Some treats (like bread) I wait until my chickens are older before giving to them. If they are eating anything besides starter, you will want to make sure to give them grit. I don't supplement mine with grit as I have lots of small rocks outside for them to swallow. Once they are laying, you can give them all your household scraps with a few exceptions like raw potato peels.

By 16 weeks of age, you will want to make nesting boxes available and put golf balls or fake eggs in the boxes. This shows them where they should lay. (and they don't always get it right at first) Also make sure your roosts are higher than your nest boxes. Chickens like to sleep in the highest spot, so if your boxes are higher, they'll sleep in them. (which is a poopy mess for your eggs

I use pine shavings in my coop, it keeps everything dry, which is very important in keeping healthy chickens. I can buy a bale of it for $5 at my local feed store.

Most vets don't treat poultry. There's no regular check ups like with most pets.

Good luck and enjoy them!

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