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Saturday, March 21, 2015

How to Get Started with Your Chickens!!!


     We actually started last year  but the chicks stayed elsewhere until their feathers came in and we could put them outside. I had a new born at the time and could only handle so much. So a friend of ours kept them at their house and they said it was super easy! Make sure you know the local laws first before you get started. We have one such law here in Michigan that "helps" to cut down on suburban farming. I put help in quotes because I don't think that is something that is helpful at all. The chickens are much quieter than dogs and who wouldn't want fresh eggs everyday? But I suppose some people would want to get a rooster and there in lies the problem.
      First you might want to do some research on what kinds of chickens you want. We didn't really do that though. We just got whatever they were selling at Tractor supply company. TSC has an annual event called Chick days, it goes from late February till early April. They have ducks too if  you want to try those.

We got Barred-Rocks (Plymouth Rock) Chicken:
                                                   These chickens are our best layers.

Ameraucana's, which can produce green, blue or pink eggs:

And Isabrowns:

We got the some mystery chickens this year. The farmer who sent them to TSC wasn't able to tell them what kind they were, but we are guessing White-leg Horns which should look like this:
Also the yellow chick pictured above

        My husband and I often have a half formed plan that seems to throw itself together after we have already made the jump. There are all types of containers/crates/ what have you, to keep your chicks in. There's a pluthera of products out there but for us we just kept it simple. We found a huge tub at TSC, grabbed a bag of what looks like hamster bedding, a feeding container, chick food and a water container.
                                        I couldn't really tell you why there's a kids plate in there
                                              but if I had to guess, I would guess Madison.
       The chicks are too little to be outside so we keep the tub in our dinning room until their feathers come in. Like I said I'm sure there are different (or even better) ways to do this but this is what is working for us. My husband made a cover for over top of it so the chicks wouldn't get out and so the cat couldn't get in. We strung a heating lamp from the ceiling ( not by the cord) and have it hovering just above the tub. The chicks need a temperature of 95 degrees F for the first week of life, you'll notice their feathers starting to come in soon after that. Chicks grow surprisingly fast! You can reduce the temperature another 5degrees every week there after until you reach 70 degrees.

By that time they should have their feathers and only need a heating lamp at night on. Right now our chicks are about 4-5 weeks old. and look like this:

So weather pending, we are hoping to get them outside within the next 3 weeks. Some of the chicks are younger so they may need to stay inside a little longer. If this is the case we will keep all of the chicks inside. Chickens have a short memory. They are used to each other right now but if separated will forget one another. When reintroduced they will try to establish a pecking order, which could lead to fights and deaths. So keep your chickens together!

 I will make another post on how to reintroduce chickens if you ever need to separate them. We are in the process of doing that very thing.

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