Friday, August 30, 2013

Beginning With Chicks Series: Putting Your Chickens Outside

Hey Chicken Raising Chicks,

This is the fifth and last post in our series Beginning With Chicks. If you have missed any of the posts and would like to read them here is our series announcement which contains links for all of the previous posts in the series.

Most people wonder when to put there chicks outside. Well, I'd like to answer to that question.

When they begin feathering out or at 6 weeks.

 Here is also some tips on putting them outside.

1. If  it is cold outside can they still stay out?

Not a good idea. They are still chicks they will get too cold and could possibly die.
If you already got rid of the brooder you had them in you can get a heat lamp and put it over the cage, but it is best to bring them inside.

2. When will chickens start laying?

It will vary by breed, but most chickens start to lay at about 5-6 Months.Some chickens will not lay eggs in their nesting boxes, they will lay eggs in the coop or yard.Our chickens did that at first but we taught them to lay in the nesting boxes. The best way to do that is to put a golf ball or plastic Easter egg in the nesting box. The chickens will think it is one of their own eggs and they will start to lay next to it. Once they have gotten the idea you can remove the golf ball.

3. Bedding can be added.

 Bedding can be added to reduce smell. But if the bedding gets wet you have to  get it out or it will smell worse.

4. How much space does a chicken need?

 Each chicken needs about 3-4 square feet. Chickens need to run around. If they are crowded the coop will begin to smell.

5. How old do chickens need to be to eat adult chicken food?

They need to be 18-20 weeks old. If they are any younger it can make them very sick and even possibly kill them.

6. Keeping your pen predator proof.

 Most people have trouble with predators killing their chickens.

If you have any bricks you can place them around the bottom of the coop. Make sure that if there is chicken wire on your coop it is small enough and that there are no holes anywhere. Raccoon's are very good at finding a hole and pulling the chicken wire big enough to climb inside.

Now you can put your chicks outside safely,



Friday, August 16, 2013

Beginning With Chicks Series: Picking Up Your Chicks

Hey Chicken Raising Chicks!

Today's post is the third part of our five part Beginning with Chicks Series. If you would like to read more of the series, please visit the series announcement post for the full list of links.

Today I will be talking about bringing your chicks home.

Either you will get them in the mail or you will pick them up. We will first start with getting them in the mail. I may  need to inform some parents that  if you get them in the mail you might not want to open the box with small kids around, because in the delivery some may have died and seeing this may upset some children.

Okay so lets get started.

1. Going to get your chicks from the post office.

Make sure that your chicken pen is ready for the chicks. The chicks need a warm place ready when they get to their new home. Make sure the chicks have water and nice clean bedding. The chicks may be thirsty they have gone a long way without water. Okay now if everything is good you can go and get your new family members!

2. Going to get your chickens from the store.

Okay same with getting your chicks in the mail before you leave make sure that their pen is ready. This includes water, feed, bedding, and a heat lamp. Without these things your chicks will die. Also take some water and feed with you. Whenever we go to get our chicks we take water and feed and they always seem  hungry and thirsty. Also the pet store may give you a box but you may want to take one just in case they don't.

Now you can go and get your chicks. Good luck!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Beginning With Chicks Series: Preparing For Your Chicks

Hello Chicken Raising Chicks!

Today's post is the second part of our five part Beginning with Chicks Series. If you missed the first post you can find it on our series announcement post, which contains all the available links for the series.

We'll be discussing setting up your chicks in their temporary home.

When you first bring your chicks home, or when they come in the mail, they will most likely need food and water as soon as possible, so its good to have this prepared in advance.

During the time your chickens are kept inside (6 weeks) they will need to be kept in a contained space. Some people use a brooder, but you don't have to go to all that trouble. We keep ours in a large plastic container (granted we have never ordered more then 10 chicks at a time). Some people even use a cardboard box, though I personally wouldn't recommend that because they have to be changed out a lot due to the smell. 

Whatever you choose, just make sure they have plenty of room. The usual space needed per chick is 1 square foot for the first couple of weeks and by four weeks they'll need 2 square feet. And you'll need room for the water and food.

You'll also want to keep in mind that some chicks are escape artists and will try to jump out of the cage as they get older. Not all chicks do this. We haven't had any problem with our Silkie Bantams doing this, but every Ameraucana we've owned has tried this at least once.

After you've chosen your cage, container, box, or brooder, you'll need to add some bedding to the bottom of it. You cane easily use hay or grass but we have always preferred America's Choice Bedding Mini Flakes.

It's very easy to use, absorbent, and if your chicks consume these, it won't hurt them in any way.

Why do you need bedding? Well, you don't have to have it, but I definitely recommend it. It will help with the smell and make cleaning out the container/brooder ten times easier.

Now for the feed and water. You'll need to purchase at least one feeder and waterer.

Harris Farms Baby Chick Feeder For Quart Jar             Harris Farms Flip Top Chick Feeder, 20 in. L

There are many different types of feeders available. The two above are often popular choices for those who have a smaller number of chicks.

If you have a larger number of chicks, or would like to fill the feeder less, then perhaps this would be a good option.

Harris Farms Hanging Feeder, 10 lb.

As for waterers.

Harris Farms Plastic Quart Jar for Feeding or Watering Small Chicks Millside 3 gal. Plastic Poultry Fountain

These are some good options.

All of these feeders and waterers can be found on for reasonable prices. Most of them can also be purchased at a feed store, or another online source. Shop around until you decide what is best for you.

Chick Starter is our feed of choice.

Medicated feed is what we usually use, though I would recommend organic feed for anyone who wants to sell their eggs. If you use the medicated feed (which contains Amprolium, a vaccine to prevent Coccidiosis, an parasite in the digestive tract of chickens.) you can not label your eggs as "organic".

You might want to do some research on feed options before you make your final decision.

The last thing you'll need is pretty dependent on location and weather.

A heat lamp. Not all chicken owners need these.

We are currently raising chicks and as you can imagine in August in Texas we aren't using the lamp. We used it the first two weeks just as a precautionary, but we haven't needed it since.

If you do need a heat lamp, you don't need to buy anything expensive.

You don't have to buy a lamp that says "Heat Lamp" on the package. Many people recommend a 250 watt bulb, and remember, you can move the lamp further away if you need to. Your chicks will let you know what to do because if they are too hot they will all be around the edge of the brooder/container is they are too cold they will all be really close together.

Just remember that chicks need it to be 95 degrees for their first week, and you can subtract by five for each week until they are ready for the great outdoors.

The lamp you'll be using will probably look like this:

If you have any questions or comments about something I didn't cover please leave a comment below or email me at

Thank you for stopping by to read our new series Beginning With Chicks and I hope you'll come back next week for our new post Beginning With Chicks: Bringing Your Chicks Home.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Beginning With Chicks Series: Ordering Your Chicks

Hello Chicken Raising Chicks!

Today's post is the first part of our new blog series Beginning With Chicks. If you're reading this at a later time, the rest of the series may have already been published. Please view the series announcement post to find links to all available posts.

Today I am going to talk about ordering your chicks.

There are four main ways to do this. 


The first way is directly through a hatchery. There are many to choose from. But there is one thing you need to be aware of. Most hatcheries have a minimum order or 25 chicks. Not all of them, but most do. This is to ensure the safety of the chicks as well as lower shipping costs. But unless you want, and are prepared for, a large flock, this can be a problem. That's where the second option comes in.

* Some hatcheries offer a free chick bonus when you order.

* Not always will you have room for 25+ chickens.

I can't truly give very many pros and cons because all hatcheries are different. If their is a certain one you are leaning towards try searching online for reviews.  

Feed Stores

Ordering through feed stores is often the best way if you want a small amount of chickens. Not all feed stores order chicks, but there are quite a few that do. If you are unsure about your local feed store just give them a call.

Feed stores usually order from hatcheries as well, but since they meet the 25 chick requirement through their own standard order of chickens (usually Rhode Island Reds, Ameraucanas, Orpingtons etc.), you can order as many as you'd like.

*You'll be able to see the chicks at the feed store before you actually purchase them.
*You can order a small number of chicks and it shouldn't be a problem.

*Not all employees know what they're doing. We had one person who worked at a local feed store send us home with the wrong chicks.
*If you are ordering bantams and the are in the same shipment as regular chickens there can be a bully in the mix.

Local Farms or Chicken Raisers

The third option is not always available and often depends on your location. If you live anywhere near a chicken raiser or a farm you might be able to purchase chicks from them. Feel free to stop by and ask, the worst thing they can say is no.

If they do sell chicks you may want to ask their price so you can compare it to that of a hatchery or feed store. You'll also want to make sure they have the breed(s) you're looking for.

Another thing you should ask them is if you will be able to pick the chicks out yourself. Many people won't have a problem with you picking out which chicks you want yourself. If they don't want you picking yourself you may want to ask around to see how reliable they were about giving you the correct breed.

*Most people selling the chicks will let you pick which ones you want. This is often a fun things for kids to do, as well as adults.
*You can personally see how the chickens are being cared for. When you order from a hatchery, you don't always know what's really going on.

*In a farm where a lot of chickens live together, it is often hard to be positive about the breed of the chick. So if you want a very specific breed and won't settle for a cross-breed, this may not be your best option.

My Pet

The fourth option is a great website called

This is basically the same as ordering through a hatchery, except for one great thing.

You can order (depending on your location) as few as three chicks. So if you really want to order by mail, but just don't need that many chicks, this is your best option.

We have never ordered from them ourselves, but have heard great reviews from people who did.

*Small minimum requirement
*They are the only company in the nation that offers sexed bantam chicks.
*They have a great "live chick rate" and only 1 out of every 100 chicks has a problem during shipping. And even if you are one of the rare people that does receive a chick that has died, they will reimburse you for it.

*They are not a hatchery themselves, but a brokerage for Meyer Hatchery. Some people have a problem with this because the feel that My Pet Chicken isn't very upfront about this.
*They have had some negative reviews about not sending the correct breeds.
*Shipping costs can be expensive.

I'm going to walk you through the first and second option, as you can probably handle the third option on your own. (If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email, or leave a comment below.) And the fourth option will relatively be the same as the second when it comes to ordering.

Whether you decide to order from a feed store of hatchery, the first step would be to obtain a catalog from the hatchery you'll be ordering from, or the hatchery your local feed store uses. You can also check online to see if the hatchery has a website. This is so you can look at all of the available breeds and colors they offer and decide what you like. You may also want to research the breeds and check their temperament, egg production rate, and typical life span. And, if you want meat birds, you'll want to know which breeds are best for that.

After you have decided on which breeds you like and how many of each you want you can place you order. Keep in mind that not all breeds, or certain colors, are available year-round, so you'll want to call the hatchery and confirm that your choices are available.

For most hatcheries you can order online, by phone, and by the insert that comes in the catalog.

For most feed stores you can order in person and by phone.

When choosing the amount of chicks you order it is always a good policy to order a couple more than you want. Not all chicks make it through shipping and even if they do you could still lose some in the next few days. This is completely normal and isn't something you did wrong or didn't do right. It happens to everyone.

Whether you order from a feed store or a hatchery you will probably get an estimate for when your chicks should arrive. Sometimes these estimates can be off a day or two, so be prepared.

If your chicks are coming in the mail, you will usually get a call from the post office that they have arrived. When you open the package it would probably be good to do so away from your children (if you have any) because, as I said before, some of the chicks may not have made it through shipping.

Thank you for stopping by to read our new series Beginning With Chicks and I hope you'll come back next week for our new post Beginning With Chicks: Preparing For Your Chicks.