So you have your chicken coop built. Now comes the fun part of raising chickens. The first thing you want to do is to buy some healthy chicks. The best place to buy them is from a breeder or a feed store around spring time. You can also search forums on the internet for people selling chicks. There are about 15 common breeds of chicks found in feed stores. Each chick can cost anywhere from $2.45 to $3.00 depending on where you get them. So decide how many you want to start out with. Don’t start out with too many because you don’t want to crowd your chickens.
Look for chicks that have clean beaks and feet. Chicks should be free of discharge from the eyes and nostrils. Listen carefully to check the chicks breathing. You shouldn’t hear anything but if you hear wheezing or sneezing, avoid these chicks.
When you bring your chicks home you need to put them in a young chick brooder which can be made up of a sturdy cardboard box or a small rabbit cage for the first 60 days. You will need to cover the floor with pine shavings. Make sure you change out the shavings every couple of days to keep the box dry and to prevent your chicks from getting diseases. Keep the temperature between 90 to 100 degrees for the first week and decrease five degrees per week. The best way to keep them warm is to place a 100 watt bulb pointing in one corner of the box. This tends to work the best.
You will want to feed them chick crumbles for the first 10 weeks. These crumbles can be medicated or not. If you do not choose the medicated crumbs then you run the risk of them getting coccidiosis – an intestinal parasite that can kill 90% of your chicks. Also be sure to keep fresh water in their box, theses chicks like to poop everywhere.
Be sure to play with your chicks when they are young so that they can get used to being around people. Let them roam around the yard after a couple of weeks. Baby chickens love to explore. They will follow you around and become fond of their owners, but some will not. But be sure you can catch them, don’t let them wander too far off from you or you’ll be chasing little chicks all day.
Usually after 60 days, chicks can be moved to the chicken coop but be sure they have feathered out so that they are protected. Chickens need their space. Make sure that each chicken has about two to three square feet inside the hen house and four to five square feet in their run outside. Walk around your chicken coop and look for any openings that predators can enter. Some common predators are raccoons, coyotes, skunks and foxes. Make sure they have plenty of food and water. These chicks like to eat and drink. Most people go with chicken pellets at this point. You can even treat your chickens to vegetables, bread, bugs, cracked corn, wheat, and milo.
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