Newbie with questions!


5 Years
Sep 2, 2014
I have found thread after thread on this site with extremely helpful info! But I do want to ask a couple of questions that I am trying to wrap my head around....
I am a complete chicken But I did place an order with Meyer Hatchery for 6 chicks: 3 Black Australorps 2 Buff Orpingtons and 1 Golden Buff. They won't be here until halloween, but I am in the middle of planning my coop (building out of recycled material...pallets) and will build a small brooder out of same material.
So here come the questions! :)
1. How much feed do chicks consume (starter feed). I don't want to buy too much. Do I need to buy grit or oyster shell for them?
2. How big does the brooder need to be for 6 chicks and how long to keep them in?
3. I generally see you move them into the coop around 8 weeks old. I live in central AR, so mild winters, but it will be middle of winter when they hit that age...assume still ok to move them in?
4. Planning on a 6'x4' coop and atleast a 6'x8' run if not bigger...assuming that will be big enough for the 6.

It really has been information overload. And I just want to take good care of these little girls when they show up. First time for everything, and this is definitely that for me. Our 2 girls....10 yr old and 5 yr old are excited to get them! :)

Thanks in advance for all the info you can provide!
I can't really give you an estimate on how much feed they eat per day, but it doesn't necessarily matter. You can buy a 25# or 50# bag and feed it til it is gone. Just be sure you have good dry storage for it -- a new galvanized garbage can is ideal because it also keeps rats and mice out. They can eat starter or grower all their lives if you want -- but many people switch to layer after they start laying for the extra calcium. You can also feed a flock raiser to a grown flock, but you would want to add oyster shell, which supplies calcium. Just understand that too much calcium for chicks under 15 to 18 weeks is quite harmful to their organs, so they should never get laer feed. New chicks get all the grit they need from the chck feed, and in many aareas of the country, older birds get what they need from the gorund. Grit is just rocks, used to grind food in their gullet; sort of their "teeth." Store bought grit is ground granite. You might want to buy a small bag when your flock is around laying age, just in case they need it.

The brooder should provide a sq ft of space per bird by the time they are 4 weeks, and more after that. Your chickens may be ready to go utside long before 8 weeks. Believe me, you will be ready to have them gone by then, if they are in your house! I won't brood in the house any more. I have a section of my coop where I can hang a heat lamp and keep them separate. Last time I raised chicks this way, night temps were 55 or 60 and they would not go near the heat lamp after 3 weeks.

Yes, they can live in the coop at 6 or 8 weeks, whenever they are feathered out. If your winters are mild, I doubt very much you have anything they would call winter. Chickens are much more sensitive to heat than cold and will need plenty of shade and breeze in hot weather.

That is a mimimum coop size recommended to prevent pecking and cannibalism, and that 4 sq ft perbird rule of thumb means not including nests, food and water space, or anything else not usable.. More space is always better, and starting out with too little might be the most common mistake, along with keeping the chicks too hot after their first few days of shipping recovery. Good luck!

I'll give you some links that I feel are very informative.
You can buy small bags of starter from Wal Mart and can also use the grit in the box for caged birds like parakeets. They will waste more than they eat if you fill the feeder too full. ( depending on the type of feeder) they love to scratch everything including their food. Grit is important for food digestion. Check with the pet store on the grit if you can't find it. A brooder for 6 chicks doesn't have to be very big if your gonna put them in a pen. 3 foot by 3 foot 2 foot tall ought to be big enough. Usually you transfer them to the coop around 6 weeks of age. Depending on the weather. You need to check on books for raising chicks. You can sometimes download it free and it will help with all your questions. Trust me, they are easier than you think and the kids will love them too. I have 80 big chickens and 30 Bantams and love dealing with them. My husband is retired and disabled to work and they keep him from being bored at home. My grand kids love them too so enjoy.
I found somewhere here that full size laying breeds will eat a total of approximately 1.2 lbs each in the first 4 weeks and 10 lbs in the first 10 weeks. Mine are about 4 weeks old and I'd agree with the 1.2 lbs each. They can go through a lot more than that if their feeder allows them to waste their food.
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