Raising Chicks- Everything beginners need to know

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3 day old chicks

We are officially Chicken people.

We bought 8 chicks! There are 4 golden sex links, 2 dark Brahmas, and 2 Egyptian Fayoumi’s. They are pretty adorable, and my kids are absolutely obsessed with them.

My husband and I just decided to take the plunge one day, even though we had not prepared or even done very much research on what we needed, how much things cost, or anything like that. We had a basic idea, but there was a LOT we didn’t know going into it. So I decided to make a concise list for others like me who want to get chicks, but don’t know what they’re doing.

3 day old chicks

Ask for help!

I think this is probably the most important step. As helpful as posts like this one are, there is nothing like having face-to-face interactions with people who really know what they’re doing.

Do you know someone who has raised chicks? Ask them questions!! Don’t know anyone personally who knows about chickens? That’s ok. Go to your local feed store (some place like Tractor Supply Co.) and ask an employee your questions.  The lady who helped us get our chicks was very friendly and knowledgeable, and you could tell she genuinely loved the chicks and cared about their well being. She took us around the store and helped us get all of the supplies we needed. I was grateful that we were able to leave the store without worrying that we didn’t have something essential to the lives of our chicks.

I also highly recommend joining some Facebook groups. There are tons of homesteading groups out there, but if you’re looking to have chickens, I recommend Chickens Chickens Chickens, which will soon be changing its name to Yard Bird Central. It is a really awesome, engaged group of people. Everyone is super friendly and helpful and willing to answer any questions you might have, and they are all super supportive.

Side note:

We went to Tractor Supply Co. to get our chicks. I have since heard a few horror stories about chicks at Tractor Supply, but I think this is a very case-by-case issue. Some stores seem to have better standards than others. The store we went to had a great selection of very healthy, happy looking chicks. A week or so later, we went to a different Tractor Supply store, and the chicks there all looked sickly. There was one that I’m not even sure was still alive. So if you go to a store where the chicks don’t look like they’re doing well, try to find a different store.

golden sex link chick

How much do chicks really cost?

I was actually really surprised by the low cost of getting chicks. Granted, if you’re going to get large amounts of them, the price will be significantly higher, but if you only want a few, the start up cost is not that bad. Here’s what we have spent so far:

1 enormous bag of shavings-$5                                                                                                    8 chicks at $3 each- $24                                                                                                                    A 2pack of heating bulbs- $8                                                                                                          1 brooder lamp- $8                                                                                                                               3pack electrolytes- $2                                                                                                                        3pack probiotic- $3                                                                                                                               1 bag chick food- $7                                                                                                                              5 quart drinker- $7                                                                                                                                 7 lb Chicken feeder- $12                                                                                                                    50 lb bag chick food- $17                                                                                                                  5 lb bag chick grit- $7

That comes out to exactly $100, not counting tax. We decided to DIY the brooding box, but they sell really nice metal tubs for about $70. This $100 has lasted us the last three weeks, and we are still good on wood shavings and chick food.

Our chicks at almost 3 weeks old

How hard is raising chicks?

Honestly? Not very. Chicks are very low maintenance babies. As long as they have enough room in the breeder, they self regulate their temperature really well. They sit under the light when they’re cold, and they move away from it if they’re too hot.

If they are all huddled together underneath the lamp, they are too cold. Try moving the lamp closer or away from any cold drafts of air. If they are as far from the lamp as they can possibly get, move the lamp farther away.

Make sure they always have clean, dry food and clean water. Don’t let them go without. Just like human babies, they need almost constant nourishment. It is also a good idea to by electrolytes and probiotics for them. We were told to put one packet of each in each of the first three gallons of water they drank.

Keep them somewhere protected. We had them in our garage, but some people keep them in the house. I think those people are a little crazy, but hey. To each his own. Chicks need to be protected from the weather but also from predators. Make sure wherever you decide to put them is secure and warm.

Around 2-3 weeks you can start letting them spend time in the yard, and the will love you for it! They are adventuresome little things and it’s good for them to stretch their wings and learn to begin foraging.

Chicks' first time in the yard

More to come

Our chicks are only three weeks old, so that’s all I know for certain at this point. I’m excited for what the future holds and can’t wait to share more of our journey with you. If you’re considering getting chicks, I say GO FOR IT! It’s not crazy expensive, it’s not super time consuming, it’s a lot of fun, and you get delicious ultra fresh eggs out of it. What could be better than that?

 

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