Our little balls of fluff have arrived and boy are they cute! This past week, we went to our local Orschelns and got ourselves six baby Rhode Island Red chicks. Already in one week they have already gotten a little bigger and have started to develop their feathers on their wings. Though we’re not sure if we are chicken people yet (mostly me), we are excited to go on this adventure together and find out!
Here are some tips and things you’ll need to know about starting your chicks out!
1. Brooder Box -This will be their home for the next six or so weeks. You’ll need to either build them a box out of plywood (this is what we did, as you can see) or you can also use a plastic tub or cardboard box. I liked the plywood box option the best. I was a little scared to use the other two options due to my fear of the heat lamp melting the plastic tub or catching the cardboard box on fire. Make sure that your box walls are high enough (ours are 2′ high), this way when they get older they can’t fly out or hit their heads on the the chicken wire lid. Also make sure that the box is big enough so there is plenty of room for them to move around, so they aren’t crowded. (See how we build our Brooder Box)
2. Food & Water Trays – To start with, you’ll just want the small ones. This way they don’t take up to much room in your brooder, giving your chicks room to move around as they please. Though make sure to check your food and water daily to make sure they have pooped in them.
TIP: I learned from reading other blogs and articles, that you should put glass beads, (like the ones you put in a vase), in the water tray. This helps to prevent the baby chicks from accidentally drowning themselves.
TIP: Another thing you’ll need to do, when you first get your chicks, is to make sure that as you place each one into your brooder, that you first dip their beck into the water for a little bit and then repeat this with the food. It’ll help your chicks to know where their food and water are in their box and help them to accumulate to their new surroundings better.
TIP: Something we learned with in the first couple hours of having our chicks, was that we needed to move the water and food closer to them because they, for the first week or so, aren’t going to want to venture to far from the heat lamp. After a week or so you’ll be able to move them.
3. Pine Shavings -This is what we are using for their bedding. It’s fairly inexpensive and is soft for them to walk around on. Plus added bonus, it seems to, so far, mask any really harsh odors that they might be creating. Though we are still making sure to clean out the poopy area’s every week or so to help keep the smell and fly’s away.
4. Food -What do they eat you may ask? Well at the moment are feeding them chick starter, which you can get at the same store that you get your chicks from. If you get the big bag, you most likely won’t have to buy them any more food until they switch over to the other. Medicated or non-medicated? We went with medicated, it was cheaper and the man at our store said that’s what they were feeding them, so we figured why change their diet.
5. Heat Lamp -You’ll need to clamp or hang your heat lamp on one end of your brooder box so that the chicks can keep warm. From what I’ve read, the first week you should make sure your box is around 90 to 95 degrees and then each week they are in the brooder box you’ll raise the lamp up so that it goes down 5 degrees. I good way we’ve noticed to check to see if they are staying warm enough is to see if they are huddling together a lot and not venturing out really, the light might need to be lowered down a little. We went with the clear heat bulb on recommendation from my father-in-law (expert at chicken raising due to raising many of his own). Some blogs I read recommended the red heat bulb due to that its suppose to help to keep the chicks from pecking at each other but we had them doing any of that really, plus clear bulb was cheaper.
TIP: Buy two bulbs. We bought two so that we could have a extra on hand just in case the first were to go down.
6. Outdoor Thermometer – We just bought a cheapy thermometer from Ace and screwed it into the brooder box towards the bottom, so that we can keep a check on how warm the box is staying.
Tip: From what I’ve read, if you are wanting your chickens to be more friendly and them to come when you call, you’ll want to make sure to hold them every day and spend time with them. This way they’ll get to know you and will be calmer when they get older. My husband and I make sure to give them some loving everyday, so that they can get to know us and hopefully if be friendlier when they get older.
I hope if you are starting to raise chickens or looking at doing so that these tips will help you out! Let me know if you have any other tips or tricks to raising chickens, I’d love to hear them!
Make sure to check out my first blog in this series and keep following along to see our adventures as first time chicken owners.