What information do you wish you had known starting out?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Queen of the chickens, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. Queen of the chickens

    Queen of the chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 7, 2011
    Unionville, MO
    I am preparing to teach a class on keeping backyard chickens. I plan to cover breed selection, care of baby chicks, equipment needed, local chicken laws and ordinances, housing your flock, and basics of care and feeding. I would love any advice or information you learned starting out that you found really helpful. Also, what information did you want to know and have trouble finding? Newbies, what questions/concerns are you dealing with? Some guy is coming all the way from California to take the class, so I would like to make it worth his trip.
  2. wren

    wren Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 27, 2007
    St Augustine, FL
    I would have liked to know about frontline spray.
  3. tweetysvoice

    tweetysvoice Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 30, 2011
    Lawrence, KS
    My Coop
    Something that I found out after I'd bought all the equipment (and wish I'd already known) was to be sure to not go cheep on the brooder light and get one that has a ceramic socket! I didn't realize that a 200 watt bulb could melt a plastic socket if it's left on as long as we'll need to for the chicks.
  4. newoldchick

    newoldchick New Egg

    Feb 21, 2012
    To not stare & worry about them so much,LOL
  5. felidaet

    felidaet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 10, 2008
    Vancouver, Wa.
    Tell people that there is no one magic formula on how to raise chicks. There are guidelines,

    Bedding options - I personally like pine pellets much better than pine shavings in the brooder. Use paper towels over the bedding the first few days.

    Elevate the feeder and waterer in the brooder to keep the bedding out.

    Small rocks or marbles in the waterer the first week to prevent drowning.

    PLEASE make sure to warn about the risk of killing the chicks if the use a shatterproof heat lamp because of the fumes from the teflon coating. Many of the bulbs do not have a warning on the box. Some even say they are safe for chicks when they actually are not.
  6. stone_family3

    stone_family3 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2011
    I wish I would have known more about using local resources to find chicks instead of just hatchery stock. Once I learned that I had great luck with stock from craigslist. I also lucked out with a lot of free Easter chicks.

    Also how valuable table scraps are :) Also wish I would have known how spoiled they would become, man those girls are pushy and demanding when it comes to kitchen goodies.
    1 person likes this.
  7. mikecnorthwest

    mikecnorthwest Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2009
    Vancouver, WA
    My Coop
    The most helpful thing would be to have good quality coop plans in a variety of styles that are complete and easy to follow. There seems to be a lot of plans that are not meant for a backyard chicken owner but rather for a larger operation. And then there are the various websites which say they sell complete plans but basically sell overpriced CAD drawings which have never been built into a successful coop.

    Most of us, even now, have to look at coop pictures and then build based on the pictures.
    1 person likes this.
  8. GardenGal

    GardenGal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2011
    Western WA
    I picked up this tip from BYC: rather than using bulbs that can explode, go for a ceramic reptile lamp. I bought one but by the time it came we didn't need it any more!

    I wish I had known to cover or not install the nesting boxes until the hens were ready to lay. Even though their perches are higher, one of ours still wants to sleep in the box.
    3 people like this.
  9. PtldChick

    PtldChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2011
    Portland, OR
    X 2 - also, chicks and chickens will learn to drink from a rabbit-type water bottle very easily. Keeps the water clean and bedding dry.

    Here is my list for new to chickens:

    Chickens are chickens, they don't care how cute or nice looking your brooder or coop is or how expensive anything is (do it for you, not for them). They need food (good quality protein, scratch is NOT food), water, shelter and safety from predators. Everything else is just gravy.

    Heat is a lot worse for chickens than cold, especially adults. Don't keep the brooder too hot, the cooler it is (within reason), the better chicks feather out for being outside. Give them lots of room to get away from the lamp.

    If you bring in chicks that have been raised somewhere else, keep them separate! Quarantine your birds! All of my chicks ended up with cocci from a few BCM chicks I got from a farm.

    Be prepared to face coccidiosis with chicks...all birds have it and stress brings it out. If you catch it early, it's not a big deal. Get some Corid or Sulmet ahead of time. Keep a good chicken medicine kit on hand.

    Feed store employees often don't know as much as you think. Use BYC as a resource!

    DON'T brood chicks in the house - way too much dust - use a garage, basement or even a separate part of the coop. You can move them to an outside brooder with a lamp at 3-4 weeks old depending on time of year and location.

    Use craigslist to save money on supplies, etc. It is possible to get almost everything you need used (see #1, chickens don't care).

    The best way to prevent picking or bullying is to provide plenty of room. There is no substitute for space.

    Unless you are very disciplined you will end up with more chickens than you thought you would have. Chicken math does not discriminate. [​IMG] Build your coop and run bigger than what you 'think' you'll need.

    You don't need a heat lamp in the coop for adults unless you're above the arctic circle (or at least the 50th parallel [​IMG]). How were chickens raised before electricity?

    Get the right breeds for your climate! It will make your life a LOT easier.

    The bigger the feeder and waterer, the less often you'll have to refill it.

    I strongly recommend that you read the old timers thread in the Managing Your Flock section for ideas to share...they have some of the best advice newbies (and oldies) can get! I have learned so much from them!

    Good luck with your class!
  10. partsRheavy

    partsRheavy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2011
    I would have liked to have known more about predator-proofing at the start. Hardware cloth, NOT chicken wire!!

    How many sessions and how long is the class?? I think that an intro class of a few hours should be available in local areas to get ppl started with building a coop and raising chicks and predator-proofing and urban flock ordianances and etc. There is NO need to come from Calif. to Missouri to learn how to raise chicks or build a coop or order pullets from a hatchery....

    Then, maybe a longer class that meets for SEVERAL weeks could cover more about breed selection, breeding, anatomy, showing, history, meat bird topics etc. Consider making an outline if it's going to be a multi-week class.

    That being said, I believe you should survey your students as to whether they have a coop built or not and whether or not they have chickens yet. A lot of what you will present depends on whether the ppl in the class have experience with peeps....or are just planning for them.

    If your "students" have more than say 4 or 5 hens and if any live in rural situations you might want to cover butchering but only if you are offering a multi-session class that meets for at least 6 or 8 weeks.

    I'm having difficulty understanding why someone from California would travel all the way to Missouri for a GENERAL chicken-keeping class. I'm aware there are classes offered in Oregon and probably in Calif. on general chicken-keeping.

    I guess I would understand the long-distance travel better if the class related to breeding or a specific breed or showing or other specialized topics. The travel and hotel expense alone would pay for a big portion of a scrap-lumber coop plus a LOT of feed plus some egg cartons!!

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