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Bringing Home New Chicks Next Month?


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Yesterday I visited my nearest Agway to see what selection of chicks would be arriving soon. To my surprise they already had Easter Eggers and Rhode Island Red chicks. In their backyard they had pullets of Copper Marans and Rhode Island Reds ! The Agway owner stated that they now have chicks and pullets at their location all year round due to demand!

Lucky us!!

I was specifically seeking French Black Copper Marans, Lavender Orpingtons , Wellsummer and Light Sussex sexed chicks. Although I would love having a rooster my male Guinea Hen, Versace, just won't have it. We rescued an abandoned roadside male Easter Egger rooster named Buddy a few years back who while young got along fine with Versace however as Buddy the rooster matured he no longer wanted to be Versace's "buddy". The two of them fought continuously and this created a very chaotic atmosphere. My hens & I were horrified and unsettled. I tried for a month to see if the situation would calm down but unfortunately it was fruitless. So Buddy went to live at a farm where they had no roosters or guinea hens . Buddy fit in just fine and is now strutting about in hen heaven!

Anyway, we are hoping to acquire a few of the above mentioned chicks next month when our Agway store will have hopefully the varieties we are seeking. In the meantime it time to prepare, clean, and sanitize our brooder and make ready for the new chicks. It is necessary to have the brooder set up and heated and have the correct chick food, water and feeders in place prior to bringing home a delivery of the chicks. We will measure the temp to ensure the conditions in the brooder are ideal prior to arrival.

If you are new to acquiring and caring for new chicks you will need at least 1 square foot of floor space per chick until they are about 6 weeks old. The sides of the brooder should be a minimum of 24 inches tall. Some folks I know use large kiddie pools, heavy duty cardboard boxes in a contained safe area, and others with pets use the extra large transparent plastic totes and place holes throughout the covers or use screens as ventilation covers . Others use brooders you can buy online. We use a enormous galvanized horse trough and window screens as our brooder for the new chicks.

You will need bedding , waters and feeders and a heat source to keep the chicks warm. These items are usually inexpensive and when you are done with them can be cleaned and reused for future use . Line the floor of the brooder with a thin layer of clean newspaper and sprinkle fine pine shavings. Clean water and quality chick feed should always be available. It is important to make sure you scoop out the droppings a few times daily to keep it dry and clean.

Regarding the heat source. Newly hatched chicks cannot control their body temperature for the first few weeks of life so providing the correct source of heat is essential. Most people use a 100 watt incandescent bulb in a clamp-on utility light . This type of utility lighting source is safe for high wattage bulbs or use infrared lamps. NO ONE wants anything that is unsafe or could cause a fire. So its good to clamp and suspend the lighting securely with a chain above the brooder. There are many other heating sources to consider should you wish to invest a bit more money. Sweeter Heater has a Coop and Brooder light that many Northern chicken owners are recommending. Check with your nearest farm store such as Agway or Tractor Supply or your State Farm Extension for chick care and their recommendations.

So how do you know what is the right temp for your chicks? A thermometer should be placed to ensure the brooders environment temperature does not fall below or over the desired temperature . However watch carefully your chicks movements and positions. Chicks that are huddled together in one spot should be investigated. Is there a breeze, too much noise, uneven heating? Make sure the brooder is large enough for chicks to escape the heated area if it becomes too hot. You will also know if the heated area is too cold if all the chicks pile up under the heat source.

Brand new chicks like temps 95 degrees. As they age the heating requirement decreases about 5 degrees until they approx. 10 weeks old. Just raise the height of the lamp to decrease the temp. Your hatchery or check out Nutrenaworld.com or again you State's Farm Extension that offer great information to raising happy healthy chicks and flocks.

Lastly, I feel it is important to talk to and handle your chicks often everyday. Spending at least 10 minutes bonding with your chicks will create a friendly flock that will run to greet you and are easier to manage since you will be part of their flock. Chickens are social, vocal and talkative and will enjoy your arrival and company. Mine will run from wherever they are free ranging or hanging out in the chicken run in hopes I might have a treat or just to tell me about their day (LOL). While spending time with them it gives me the opportunity to check out their health. Most importantly I think it promotes family fun . My children and now grandchild have learned the importance of being caring ,gentle, kind, responsible and loving.

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