I have the brooder ready which is a large wire dog crate with makeshift sides to prevent drafts. My food and waterer are made, now just waiting for them to come in. I am going to be trying a heating pad method rather than a heat lamp. They will be in my house which averages 75 degrees, the heating pad will be under one end of the crate, with a bucket turned igloo that does a good job keeping very warm inside. I am testing the heating pad and temps in the bucket now and so far so good. My questions are...When you purchase chicks from a feed store are they usually vaccinated? I guess this is a question that I can ask them, but have had issues with getting a straight answer at feed stores in the past. I would much rather hear from the seasoned members here. Is it routine for them to order the chicks already vaccinated? Water additives...Is there a product that I should add for vitamins and/or electrolytes? I will be using nipple waterers to keep things clean. Bedding...I love the idea of sand, but that could be a big mess indoors considering the tray in the bottom of the kennel is only about an inch deep. I have read about pine shavings, are these the best choice? Handling...How often and how soon should I start handling my chicks. I want to be sure that I get them used to being touched trusting of me. Last batch I handled a couple of times a day making sure their little poop shoots were clean. Only 2 of the 6 were very friendly, the rest were stand-off-ish and skittish. Mortality...I would like to have 6 layers, to start. Should I buy a few more just in case I have a few die? Last time I bought 6, and all 6 survived, but this could have been a fluke. Like I said I have had hens before, but wasn't aware of this site, and after reading have found that I was doing LOTS of stuff wrong. I want happy spoiled girls that enjoy their life and reward us with lots of yummy eggs!