Thinking of Buying Baby Chicks? Read This!
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With spring coming up many of you are probably thinking about purchasing baby chicks from places like Tractor Supply, Rural King or other local feed stores. Before you start purchasing baby chicks, it is a good idea to have a plan in place as to what materials you will need, and what your main goal is when raising chickens.
Before purchasing baby chicks it is important to establish a goal for your operation. Are you wanting to raise chickens for meat, or are you just wanting to raise them for eggs? Something else to think about is if you are raising chickens for eggs what color and egg size do you prefer? How often do you want them to lay everyday, every other day or once a week? Another thing to think about is how you want to raise them. Are you wanting to raise them free range, or rotate them through your pasture, or are you just wanting to raise them in a regular coop with a run attached to it? I know all of this information can be very overwhelming, but it is important to sit down and plan all of this out before you purchase the chicks.
Something else you will want to do before you purchase chicks is purchase all the materials & equipment that you will need. This way you have everything ready to have a smooth transition once you get your baby chicks home.
If this is the first time you are purchasing baby chicks below you will find a helpful list of what all you will need. Something important to keep in mind is what breed of chickens you want to use in your operation. Different breeds lay different sizes, and colors of eggs, some breeds may only lay 1-3 times a week while others may lay everyday. This is just some important information to keep in mind when choosing your chicks.
- You will need something to keep them in while they are babies (preferably not a plastic tub). Meatal tubs work great for this, you do not want to use a tub that is flammable or will melt.
- You will need a heat lamp to help keep them warm for the first few weeks.
- You will need shavings, you want to put this in the bottom of the tub that you are keeping your chicks in. You will need to clean and replenish the shavings as needed.
- Feeder & Waterer is very important, they need to have access to both items at all times.
- Chick starter is the starting feed needed for the chicks to grow at a young age. There are several choices out there: choose the one that best suits your chicks need. Some are medicated which are recommended when first getting chicks.
For the first few days it is important to keep a close eye on your baby chicks to see if you notice any that are not performing as well as the rest. The first few days when you get the baby chicks home can be very hard for them and some may die from the stress. If you have some that show symptoms of being sick, try to isolate them from the rest of the flock as soon as possible. You do not want the whole flock to become sick.
When the chicks are about 7-10 weeks old (2-4 months old) you can move them outside, as long as the temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As the chicks start to get older they will be ready to move into their permanent chicken coop. Chickens will not start laying eggs until they are 18-22 weeks of age (about 5-6 months old).
Something else to keep in mind and practice is good biosecurity. When messing with chickens it is important to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling them. It is also important to disinfect your hands and clothes between flocks to help prevent the chances of spreading a disease from flock-to-flock.