It’s officially spring and if you’re thinking about starting a flock of your own, there are some things to consider before you purchase your sweet little chicks. I remember the first time (many years ago) I brought chicks and a couple of ducklings home. I had absolutely no idea what they needed, so I didn’t purchase anything else. The kids and I were so excited to show my husband what we bought. My husband took one look at me, smiled, and then asked if they sold brains at our local farm supply store too. Hahaha! Oooops!
Thankfully, my husband knew what they needed and he got it all set up. They sadly wouldn’t have survived unless he stepped in. Those chicks and ducklings grew and they grew quick! Pretty soon, we had 3 large ducks making a mess everywhere. We gave the chickens away and pretty soon, the ducks found a new home with a large pond. I learned a lot through that little experience like the importance of research, communication and being prepared.
Here is a list of things to consider before buying your first chicks:
Do you live in an area with ordinances that allow chickens? If so, how many can you have? Do your research because I guarantee you'll get attached to these cuties quickly! I’d hate for you to have to give them away because you weren’t aware of an ordinance.
Which kinds of chickens do you want to have? Are you in it for the eggs, teaching responsibility for your kids or another reason? I have many different types of chickens. I look for their personality first. I want docile chickens that are sweet to my family and visitors. Then, I check to see how many eggs they lay on average, what color they are, and if they are cold/heat hardy. We live in Minnesota where the weather extremes are pretty intense, so we need hardy chickens!
Once you settle on the type or types of chickens you want, you can either order them from a hatchery, purchase them from your local farm store or a breeder. I have even hatched Silkie eggs in an incubator before. There are many purchasing options out there, but it'll depend on what time of year you decide to get chicks as to where you'll have to buy them from.
Before you actually pick up your chicks, set up your brooder. One chick needs 2 sq. ft. of space. You will need chick food, water, a heat panel or light, and then of course the brooder itself. There are many options for the brooder. You can research and decide what works best for your set up. I usually use a very large tote with puppy pads, for a non-slip surface, but I’ve used cardboard panels as well. Check out my past blog here and video below on how to set up a chick brooder.
Don't forget your Baby Chick Care Kit when you pick up up your chicks! These kits will have everything your chicks need for the first month of life. Baby Chick Care Kits are the easy and natural way to get your chicks off to a strong start. Look for them right next to the chicks at your local farm supply store.
Your chicks will grow quickly and you'll need to have your coop ready before they outgrow the brooder. Your chickens will need 4 sq. ft. of space per bird. There are so many amazing coops out there. I have a large, enclosed run attached to my coop because we live in an area with many predators. It's recommended to have 10 sq. ft. of space per chicken for your run area. Check out my past blog on setting up my chicken coop here and video below!
If you already have chickens, the time will come when you need to integrate your new babies into your larger flock. It's critical that you integrate them safely because pecking order is a REAL thing. For tips and tricks on this, check out my past blog post here and video below.
For another great blog on choosing baby chicks go here to check out our friend Lisa Steele's article at Fresh Eggs Daily. She has great advice for choosing a healthy chick!
Until next time, enjoy your new feathered family members!
-The Wing Lady