Welcome to my 2nd White Kitchen Chick Chat! I'm giving you the low-down on my new chicken lady life and everything I've learned so far! Are you thinking about getting chickens or just starting your flock? Let me lay it out for you. There was a lot I researched before hand, but also things that I've learned along the way. Hopefully my small amount of experience can help any new chicken owner or to-be chicken mamas! I will explain how I raised my chicks, how I raised friendly chickens, and transitioning them to the coop!
How To Raise Chicks
I would kind of be leading you astray if you think I'm any sort of expert on this. But, all of my chicks are super happy and healthy and BIG, and friendly! So I'll give you the run down on how I raised chicks!
- Brooder - the place where your chicks will live until ready to go outside. Our brooder was a large plastic tub which was super easy for cleaning. I set it up with a heat lamp and their pine shavings, water & food and they loved it! I cleaned it out and replaced the pine shavings once a week!
- Heat Lamp- this was very important because chicks can get chilled very easily and it's hard to bring them back after they are chilled. The first week, since I had small bantam chicks they needed to be kept at 100 degrees. You drop the temperature 5 degrees every week after that. So I managed to do this by rigging my heat lamp where I could move it up and down (closer and farther) away from the brooder. I also kept this to one side of the long brooder so they could leave the heat if necessary!
- Pine Shavings- I chose to line their bed with pine shavings because they are very absorbent and little chicks poop. A LOT. They smell decently good and it was super easy to clean out!
- Feeder and Waterer - I ordered a small "chick starter" kit and it came with a plastic feeder and waterer. This worked perfect for my 6 chicks! I did however place a wooden cutting board under the waterer because somehow the chicks would get their pine shavings in there LIKE EVERY HOUR. & I'd have to change it. I also put a pro-biotic in their water to help them along.
- Treats- Every evening I would come after dinner with unused salad greens and give them as treats to the hens. I accompanied this with a little Chick Grit (helps them "chew" since they don't have teeth!)
Raising Friendly Chicks
So for the first day or 2 I didn't handle the chicks because I didn't want to stress them out. But I handled each one daily after that! It is important to me to have friendly chickens because I have a toddler. She joined me in the handling of them, being to careful to wash hands of course! She loves them.
- Give them treats! They soon knew the sound of the Chick Grit bag shaking when I was getting ready to give them some. This is when my friendliest chicken, Julia, really started to show her personality. She would hop right up in my hand, shoulder, and lap and just love being held.
- Let them come to you. I have a couple of hens that are still a little wary of me, but whenever I hand out treats I put a few in front of me and hold a few in my hand so they don't always have to come right up to my hand. They can ease their way in! We've had no aggressive behavior towards myself or any of the other chickens!
Transitioning to the outdoor coop
So this was my biggest hurdle in raising the chickens. They were honestly pretty low maintenance as chicks. Transitioning them to the outdoor coop was something I was worried about because like I mentioned before, they need a certain temperature maintained to prevent chills.
So after Ryan finished the coop (it looks awesome doesn't it?!) I would let them spend the day outside starting at 3.5 weeks old. It would still get too cool at night so I would bring them in.
When they turned 1 month old, they were huge. Like, wayyyy to big for the brooder. It was right on the edge of being too cool for them outside and so I moved their heat lamp to the coop and pulled the trigger. At 4 weeks old they had enough big girl feathers that I felt comfortable letting them live outside. Plus they were SO happy!
Ok, if you've made it this far, thank you! Here is the not so pretty stuff that has happened while raising my chicks...
- Pasty Butt - when a chick poops, it can get stuck to its soft down feathers, back them up, and they can die from not pooping. Gross but true. Only one of my chicks had it thank goodness. You must remove it immediately and with a squirmy chick that can be hard. Run their behind under water until it starts to loosen up and gently pat it off with a soft rag. Then completely blow dry them and return to the brooder.
- Roosters So when I bought my 3 silkie chicks, there was no way to distinguish male from female because they are so tiny. So I got them knowing there was a chance of getting roos. We live within city limits and cannot have them. Nor did I want them! So about 3 weeks old I could tell 2 of 3 of our silkies were different. I got them DNA tested and sure enough, they were roosters! The farm I got them from gladly took them back and kept one and rehomed the other. So I'm currently on the lookout for Ina and Giada 2.0.
- Rain in the coop The first week of the chickens moving out side it rained almost EVERYDAY. You know what stinks worse than a regular chicken coop? A WET chicken coop. So, we had a lot of clean out to do after that first week and the run is now a mud pit. YAY.