Newbie Question re: Raising Chicks

sjolie

Chirping
Sep 23, 2019
15
51
56
Chicago, IL
So we are interested in starting a small backyard urban flock in the spring (4-6). Planning to build a coop before Thanksgiving so it's ready to go in the spring, once winter moves out of Chicago!

Ideally I'd like to get chicks and raise them by hand. However both my wife and I work full-time and I'm wondering if they will need much "direct" attention during the workday (I know they will get TONS of attention from us both before / after work!)

But in the interest being responsible and for their overall well being, I'm wondering if would this be OK or should we start with older (pullets?) birds.

Thank you for input.
 

fil76

Songster
Oct 14, 2017
260
117
129
manchester england
In my opinion chiks are messy
Always kicking/sratching shavings
Into water so need changing water
About 3 times a day so I would start
With older birds
Older birds would tame so yes I would
Start with older birds
Cheers phil
 

Ebony Rose

Crowing
12 Years
May 26, 2009
2,500
5,644
471
David, Chiriquí, Panama
With love and attention both before and after work on a daily basis, I see no problems with them being 'home alone' while you're both out of the house and earning a living.
I respectfully disagree with fil76 in regards to tame-ability. Day-old chicks are far easier to tame than even a one week old chick, and older birds, unless hand raised by someone else will often be wary of you for life. Please don't tame them with treats as babies absolutely need a balanced diet to support their rapid growth. I agree with fil76 that chicks are messy, but you can reduce their mess by putting their food and water on a lipped cookie sheet in their brooder if you have the space. I use a large rubbermaid-type tote with a utility light (the kind with the aluminum housing to disburse the warmth better) with 60watt non-teflon coated bulb hung about 8" over the bottom of the tote as a brooder & heat source and use either paper towels laid flat or terry cloth towels folded to size, as bedding for at least the first week. Paper or terry toweling offers absorbency and solid footing for your chicks, reducing the chance of injuring their legs and feet, I change this bedding daily. A quick shake outdoors to remove the chunky stuff and into the washing machine for the terry towels or trash can for the paper toweling.
In Chicago, there's no limit on number of chickens per household, nor is there a ban on roosters. Keeping ANY animal for the purpose of slaughtering for food is prohibited, so you'll need to have some plan in place for what to do with excess or unwanted roosters.
 

sjolie

Chirping
Sep 23, 2019
15
51
56
Chicago, IL
With love and attention both before and after work on a daily basis, I see no problems with them being 'home alone' while you're both out of the house and earning a living.
I respectfully disagree with fil76 in regards to tame-ability. Day-old chicks are far easier to tame than even a one week old chick, and older birds, unless hand raised by someone else will often be wary of you for life. Please don't tame them with treats as babies absolutely need a balanced diet to support their rapid growth. I agree with fil76 that chicks are messy, but you can reduce their mess by putting their food and water on a lipped cookie sheet in their brooder if you have the space. I use a large rubbermaid-type tote with a utility light (the kind with the aluminum housing to disburse the warmth better) with 60watt non-teflon coated bulb hung about 8" over the bottom of the tote as a brooder & heat source and use either paper towels laid flat or terry cloth towels folded to size, as bedding for at least the first week. Paper or terry toweling offers absorbency and solid footing for your chicks, reducing the chance of injuring their legs and feet, I change this bedding daily. A quick shake outdoors to remove the chunky stuff and into the washing machine for the terry towels or trash can for the paper toweling.
In Chicago, there's no limit on number of chickens per household, nor is there a ban on roosters. Keeping ANY animal for the purpose of slaughtering for food is prohibited, so you'll need to have some plan in place for what to do with excess or unwanted roosters.

Thanks! I'm actually just north of Chicago in Evanston. There is a 2-6 bird limit and no roosters are allowed. I have some connections to people who live in rural IL and WI so I would likely look to them for help if I need to re-home a rooster. There is a no-slaughter ordinance here as well, however I've talked to people who will take their older birds to local butchers when they've reached that point. Interestingly it's fine to do that as long as it is an "end of life" consideration, which means they were not raised solely for slaughter.

Thanks again, this site has been a HUGE source of great information! I really want to approach this new endeavor respectfully and ethically.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,099
33,594
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
I don't see a problem in getting chicks if you're working full time, as long as you set things up in advance. For example, if you're planning to use a heat pad or plate, plug it in and test it weeks before you need it - if using a heat lamp, same thing, plug it in early and figure out where you need it placed for safety and to provide the correct temperatures.

If you're buying chicks locally (feed store, farm, etc.) ideally you'd want to bring them home on the weekend when you have time to make sure everything is going well with the set up and that the chicks don't have issue finding food and water, to treat pasty butt, etc.

Chicks can grow up to be friendly adults even without constant handling or exposure to you. As long as you have a little time in the morning to make sure things are good before you go to work, and time to spend socializing and cleaning up after them in the evening, things should work out fine.
 

blackdog043

Crowing
Feb 19, 2017
2,401
4,136
416
SE PA
Starting with chicks will be fine, working full time. Are they messy, yes, if you don't have the right set up. Put your water and feed up on a platform, this will keep most, if not all of the shavings out. Here's a thread link, on making a feeder that won't make a mess. basically a no waste chick feeder.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/no-waste-chick-feeder-build.1297528/

Here's a couple pics of my brooder set ups, no one is home all day here.
This is the first few days, before I move them to the coop brooder.
March 2019 chicks.jpg


I brood my chicks inside my coop. What are all these in this pic? Feed and chick waterer on the platform(left), horizontal nipple waterer in the pitcher, next is chick grit, then fermented feed. I hang the grit and fermented feed to keep the bedding out
2019 brooder 2.jpg
 

Peggysaurus

Songster
Sep 24, 2019
115
224
127
Spotsylvania, Virginia
When we first got our day-old chicks a couple of months ago all my family members had school/work and we were gone for most of the day. When I got home at the end of the day I alway's played with the chicks and my parents played with them in the morning. We got a big enough feeder and waterer for them so that by the end of the day they still had a little bit of water and food. I also had time to clean their brooder every few days after school. Best wishes to you raising your chicks! It's a great experience and lots of fun. :)
 
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Peepsi

Songster
Apr 1, 2017
442
1,627
232
Utah
I wouldn't worry about it. My husband and I both work full-time...in fact, I work 10 hour days. I just raised a batch of chicks inside. Be sure to set aside time before and after work to clean their brooder. You will need to do that both in the morning and the evening. I also made sure they had clean water and fresh food both before I went to work and after.

Every time I cleaned the brooder, I took all of them out and put them in a box while I cleaned. So each bird was picked up and handled at least twice a day, and even more during playtime. They are all 7 weeks old now, living outside in their coop, and quite tame (and very eager to see humans each day. They don't care who they get to see/walk on/fly onto/etc...they love people.)

So do start with chicks! Even with working full time, they'll still get plenty of time with before and after work, and will turn out to be tame and well-adjusted, as long as you don't forget about them each day. :)
 

MANNA-PRO

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