Friday, March 15, 2013

5 Tips to Raising Your Own Chicks

My chick raising knowledge is pretty green, so y'all will be learning right along side me for much of this.  But I thought I'd share what I have learned so far.  Before I get started, I want to say that raising chicks ain't no thang!  It's easy and raising chicks are a great way to put meat and eggs on the table for a fraction of the cost of what meat/eggs sell for in stores, and all without steroids or additives.

First, here are my chicks on top when I first got them, on bottom today at about 2 and 1/2 to 3 weeks old with their feathers coming in:






Tip #1 - Keep them warm!  Get a heat lamp from Tractor Supply or somewhere similar.  Bulbs are about 4$ a piece and I think the light fixture is about 8$, if I am not mistaken.  You can pretty much hang this or clip it from anywhere.  Get red bulbs to discourage the chicks from picking each other.  Chicks need to start out at temperatures of 95-90 degrees for the first week, and then decrease by about 5 degrees each week thereafter until all their feathers come in (about 5-6 weeks).

This is the large shipping crate my Dad got for me that I use for now to keep the chicks warm and safe:



Tip #2 - Keep water and feed available at all times!  This is pretty self explanatory.  For feed, I don't use any special feeder.  I just put the feed in a long, wide tray that the chicks can get into so they can scratch around but the tray keeps everything contained.  I will be using chick starter/grower feed for about the first 6-10 weeks:




Tip #3 - Keep everything CLEAN!  I use pine shaving bedding and change that out pretty frequently.  I also clean out their waterer and give then fresh, clean feed every day.  This will cut down on diseases and mites.  Ew!  Mites are nasty, no one wants mites.

Tip #4 - In case of pasty butt.... Yes it is what it sounds like.  And it is pretty gross.  But when I first got my chicks in, they were a tad stressed and some had "pasty butt" where things get a little clogged up back there.  Remove this by wetting with a warm cloth and pulling it off.  You may get a bit of down/feathers in which case you will then have a case of balding butt, but balding butt is nothing compared to pasty butt.  Pasty butt can kill your chick if it gets bad enough!  Balding butt grows back.

Tip #5 - Hang in there!  The chicks grow fast and will be ready to go outside before you know it.  Meat chicks are ready for slaughter at about 8-10 weeks and laying hens should start laying around 6 months after they hatch.  Then things start to really pay off!

A few up close shots...

This are Appenzellar Spitzhaubens which will grow a cute little topknot (already developing):



And these are the darling Golden Laced Cochin Babies:



And finally an up close of one of the meat chicks (red broilers):

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