RAISING CHICKENS FROM START TO FINISH By Glenda L Heywood Fanciers here is the way I used to raise chicks along with a brooder box design, though very normal is reasanably cheap to make and maintain. Always use two 1x4 inch boards with a ceramic light fixture screwed on the board with plug in cord. Lay this acros the box for warmth. If one bulb burns out then there is a back up light bulb so the chicks don't pile up and smother. First you need to decide what amount of chickens you want to raise at this time. Then purchase the chicks at either a hatchery or a breeder. The breeders will have the pure breeds. You should have made up some kind of brooding arrangements before you buy the chicks. If you have the brooder house with a nice brooder and lights that is great. If not this is what you can make to get you started. HOMEMADE BROODER BOX I used a brooder box with a lighting fixture like this. Using a 1"x4" board the width of the box for length. Use a ceramic light fixture secured to the 1x4 board. Now build a brooder box for say 2 dozen chicks about 4ftx6ft and using 1"x12" lumber cut to fit and nail 4 sides together and then use the 1x12's for the flooring. Nail the light board with fixture (should have two boards as two lights are best) across the top of the width of the brooder. One board with fixture for light bulb at the front back about 1 ft and the other at the back of box about 1 ft from rear. Now have some type of covering for at least half of the brooder box. I used a large sheet of formica cut to fit the brooder box half way up. If it is cold use a little more of the covering. Leave a nice size space for the ventilation of the brooder box, especially at night. I used play school sand for bedding it is very good, using a cat litter cleaner to sift out the manure regularly) and cleaned them at least every 5 days. Adding back new sand when cleaned. Using 100 watt bulbs to keep the box 98 degrees ( or if in house where warm may take less wattage.) You can tell if chicks are cheeping and running from light it is too hot, if they cheep and run towards the light it is too cold) The first week and then cut the amount of wattage of bulbs the 2nd week. Should be cut about 5 degrees a week. It should be about 90 degrees the 2nd week. You can tell if the chicks start to cheep that they are hot they will try to get as far away from the light as they can. If they are cold they hug the bulb and cheep also. The area for the brooder needs to be kept where the temperture of the building they are in is nice and compfy, out of any draft or wind. I had a large glassed in porch that I kept my brooders in for the first two weeks of the chicks life. The afternoon sun made it really nice for the chicks. I would use lesser wattage bulbs in the day time if needed and up the wattage at night. Becareful not to use a heat lamp as they need to be at least 2 ft above the floor of the brooder or shed. I liked regular light bulbs best. Always becareful to not cause a fire. The reason for two bulbs is that if one bulb burns out during the day or nite they have a back up light bulb and won't try to pile up and sufficate. I also used the pieces of 1x12s for a piece of wood under the waterer. Now have the waterer and feeders in the box where the chicks can get to them and see with the lighting. Have the feed & water there for around the clock and the chicks will eat and drink and eat and drink around the clock. I always left the lights on the chicks for at least 3-4 months and this gets them a better start in life. FIRST HATCHED CHICKS I used a large wheaties cardboard box ( gotten at the grocery store when they fill the sheves, they throw these away.) for the chicks freshly hatched for about 6-7 days then I would take the chicks and move them to the larger wooden brooder mentioned Keeping back a couple of the smaller chicks from the hatch the week before. These would automatically eat and drink and teach the newly hatched chicks to eat and drink, like the hen would if she was tending them. Generally the smaller chicks from the week before would be a couple of pullets and would not bully the newly hatched chicks. Now when using the cardboard box, I had the 1x4 with the ceramic light fixture and a bulb in it, laying over the top of the box. Secured with some weight. Then cover the back half of the box and leave a opening for ventilation. I had play sand in the bottom of the box for bedding. I always used the box if it wasn't soiled or damaged two settings of chicks, cleaning it each time I used it. Moving the chicks on the day I took the chicks out of the hatcher. So as to keep the two smallest chicks for teachers. On Day one till day 5 I used to put either a teaspoon of Jello ( this makes red color and attracts the chicks to it.) or sugar in the water and as it is colored you can see why the chicks would drink it. The 5-6th day you can use plain water. Besure and take each chick and dip its beak in the sugar water, as you take them from the hatcher, as then they will go back for more. Have the feeder and waterer toward where the light is as this attracts the birds to the light. The 2nd week they were moved to the brooder boxes made from wood then after the 3-rd week I would move the chicks to the brooder house where it had metal hovers with lights in it and the chicks could go to and from the hover at will and eat and drink. I always had a light around the drinking and feeder area. I was not much on heat lamps as they are so dangerous. 100 watt bulbs worked fine. One can keep moving chicks together after 3-4 weeks and then this allows the new batch to catch up. One idea I always used for putting new chicks in the brooder house was that I had the corners of the brooder house blocked off with a bale of straw or hay. When all the chicks didn't want to scatter and hide in the corners like a week or so then I removed the bales to another building to store till the next mixing of chicks. Chicks want to hide as they are scared and this prevents them from piling up and sufficating. Some breeders take a piece of hail screen and cover the corner areas with that. I liked the hay bales my self. I can remember when raising Modern Game bantams that it was so cute that in 2-3 weeks you will have some of the cockerels coming up on the top of the light bulb on the 1x4 and trying to crow! You knew it was time for them to go to the brooder house. I loved them so. The little Frizzle chicks were so cute as the first thing you know it, after a couple or three weeks they have the little frizzled wings feathers growing out and look like they could just fly if given time! Always keep the area around the waterers dry and clean. As this is where the chicks get the coccidiosis, from the bacteria growing around the waterer. Remember that there are 9 kinds of cocciiosis for them to get. Use some kind of Amporolum if you can find it. If you can't get Corrid or Amproyl 128 use Sulmet as the bottle says. We always used the medicated feed for chicks and then about a month had to give Amporol. Always watch to see how every chicken is thriving and not setting in the corner humped up with ruffled feathers. Also drinking only water this happens for about three days and then they die if not medicated for Coccidiosis. Medicated feed does not keep them immuned to coccidiosis just prolongs the time they may not get it. At 4-6 weeks is the time they generally come down with it. Have the medication handy and give for at least a week to 10 days. Using Amproyl 128 or Corrid is the best there is. Also can use a wet mash for them to get jumped started when sick with coccidiosis WET MASH 1 qt of dry chick feed ( medicated is okay to use. 1-2 cups water 1 tsp of corrid mix good and give in plastic feeder enough for each chick to get 3 tsp at one time. Do this for 3 days then quit. All the time have the 1 tsp per gallon of water of either corrid in their drinking water for 7-10 days. As the chickens mature selection will take place at about week old for defects and thru the growing off period. Don't cull any birds that don't have obvious defects too soon. Let them molt out for third time and then cull the bad ones.