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Bringing Home Baby Chickens
There are a few things you’ll need to prepare for ahead of time before bringing home your baby chicks. We aren’t experts, but we’ve done our share of research (see favorite sources at end) and you will need some basic supplies to bring home your chickens.
Baby Chicken Supply Checklist, or should I call it a “chick” list?
- Brooder box – Basically a place for them to live for six- to eight-weeks of life. You can use a very large sturdy cardboard box, a plastic container, old wash basin, wooden plywood box or we opted for a 67-gallon metal stock tank. I picked the metal stock tank because it will be easy to keep clean, I don’t have to worry about starting a box on fire (I’m so paranoid) and I know I can re-purpose it in the garden when we’re done. The cheapest solution is a cardboard box and most people do just fine with that. Make sure the edges aren’t too low – as they get older you don’t want them hopping out. The metal tub cost us about $90 from our local feed store. Not the cheapest solution – but I can’t wait to use it in the garden!
- Heat lamp and bulb – A good heat lamp is important. Those chicks are going to need a heat source until their feathers come in. We were able to get a metal one with a clamp for $9.99 at our local feed store and the red heat bulb (preferable to a bright white bulb) was $5.99 – for a total of $15.98.
- Thermometer – To regulate the temperature. You can get one of these for under $1. Place it low to the base, near where the chickens are at.
- Bedding or also called litter – We used pine shavings, since we already had them for our outside chicken coop. Do not use cedar shavings as there are have been reports of the strong odor causing respiratory issues in your chickens. Pine shavings are inexpensive and easy to clean up.
- Feeder – We opted for a 1 quart feeder and we opted for the galvanized base (over the plastic). These are sold in two parts at our local feed store – the plastic bottle ($1.79) and galvanized feeder base ($3.29) – for a total $5.08.
- Waterer – Again, we got a 1 quart plastic bottle ($1.79) and the galvanized base ($2.79) – for a total of $4.58.
- Feed – You want special feed for new chicks. Often times it’s medicated to help protect them against parasites. A 50 pound bag will cost you about $18 and should last you a very long time. I’m not even sure we need this much, but it was cheaper than buying the smaller bags at our feed store.
Where to keep baby chickens
The most important thing about where you store your chickens is that you want the heat to be fairly regulated. If you keep them outside in a shed, for example, the temperature can fluctuate drastically from day to night. A basement would be ideal and I’ve even read of people keeping them in a spare bathroom, in the bath tub. We put ours in the garage. The chickens can kick up a surprising amount of dust, so I didn’t want to keep them in the house (plus it’s easier to make sure the kids don’t touch them unsupervised by having them in the garage). Keep them away from drafty areas.
Places to order chickens in the Pierce or Thurston County
Here in the Puget Sound we are lucky to have lots of farming resources. We bought a lot of our supplies at our local Del’s Farm and Feed Store and they have locations all over the Puget Sound. Tacoma has an amazing store called the Garden Sphere, which I first learned about through the Urban Chicken Coop Tour. The Garden Sphere has a chicken hatch schedule and it’s best to preorder your chickens, otherwise it’s first come, first serve!
How many chickens should you get?
You should plan on bringing home at least two or preferably three chickens at at ime. They say at least three chicks, so in the sad event that you lose one, that you will still have at least two chicks. A lone chick won’t have anyone to bond with and it’s likely they will be whining (or crying) for you – which is not good for you or the chicks. Call ahead, some places like Del’s Farm and Feed require a six-chick purchase, you’ll be bringing home at least six chickens.
The day they come home
As much as we wanted to snuggle and cuddle with our chickens when we brought them home this morning, we are leaving them alone for the next 24 hours. This gives them some time to get settled. Stress is one of the leading factors in sick baby chicks – so after the stress of being moved and put into a new home, give them sometime to settle in. My husband and I keep going in and checking on them, but we aren’t handling them at all. They already seem happy and comfortable – napping and exploring their new home.
Backyard chicken resources
- Building Chicken Coops For Dummies – $13.59 (reg. $19.99)
- Chicken Coops: 45 Building Ideas for Housing Your Flock – $13.57 (reg. $19.95)
- The Joy of Keeping Chickens: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Poultry for Fun or Profit (The Joy of Series) – $10.17
- Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, 3rd Edition – $12.36
One of my favorite all-time books is A Chicken in Every Yard: The Urban Farm Store’s Guide to Chicken Keeping, written by a couple out of Portland that owns a Urban Farm Store. They know their stuff and the book is easy to read through and reference.
Do you have any questions or comments about carrying for baby chicks? I’d love to try and answer them. I’m learning as we go, but I’ve read a stack of books about it, so I can at least try and point you in the right direction.
I’ll share more about our chickens later this week after they’ve had a chance to get settled in. We ended up getting six chickens, two Americauna, two Barred Rock, one Leghorn and one Rhode Island Red!
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