We’ve all been there. The cuteness factor wins me over every spring when the local farm supply store gets their chicks in stock. They are so stinkin’ cute, with their little cheep cheeps, and the fluff ball look going on. Here’s what you need to know when you get those cuties home. A complete run down of what NOT to do when you start raising chickens.
Don’t buy your chicks first and research later.
It’s easy to spontaneously purchase your chicks before you really know what you’re doing. You won’t ever know all there is to know about poultry keeping. It’s like parenthood, none of them are the same, and they don’t have the same challenges. But, and here’s the real deal, you need to know your basics before you bring those babies home. I recommend Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens as a great place to start.
Don’t bring them home before the brooder box is ready.
It is imperative that you have your brooder set up and most importantly, warmed up before you bring home your chicks. I use a Rubbermaid tub with a lid I cut out the top of and inserted chicken wire into. I also use this heat lamp, with a RED bulb. I warm up the box to 95 degrees a full 24 hours before I bring my chicks home. You don’t want them getting chilled. You also need a thermometer, water dish, feeder and chick starter.
Don’t forget to account for “Chicken Math”
Anyone who raises chickens eventually discovers an amazing phenomena know as “Chicken Math” How many chickens you plan on purchasing will automatically double (or in my case quadruple), within an unspecified amount of time. They’re like potato chips, you can’t just have 3, or 6, or 12. Therefore, plan big!
Don’t build the coop after you bring chicks home.
Chicks grow fast. Really fast. Before you know it, it will be time to move them out of the house, or barn and into their very own home, the chicken coop. It is inevitable that the setting up of their home will have a snag here or there. Whether you build a coop from scratch, a kit or have it built by a professional, it is best to have it ready before you think you’ll need it. So research and figure out what you need and what you want to include. There are so many options for chicken housing, I could get lost on Pinterest for days.
Don’t assume you won’t get a rooster
Sexing chicks is a skill, and it is not fool proof. I can’t tell you how many roosters we’ve purchased that were supposed to be hens. Have a plan for what you’ll do if you get a rooster, or two, or three. If you want a rooster, awesome! I do too, but right now my neighbors wouldn’t appreciate it. That dream will have to come to fruition on our property in Alaska. I’ve also never met a nice roo, I’m looking forward to finding one of my own. So, will you rehome him, or make soup?
Don’t forget to prepare the nest boxes
Your girls will be laying sooner than you think, so get your nest boxes ready in advance. I usually block mine off with an old piece of lattice we had laying around until my chicks are about 14-16 weeks old. Leaving them open any sooner is just asking for your adolescent chicks to poop in them. I use pine shavings in our boxes, and change it out frequently to keep our eggs clean. I’ve also used hay, straw and grass clippings. Whatever works for you is the right choice. It’s also nice to add fresh herbs and mint. It keeps the coop smelling nice. You can grow your own, or buy some like these.
Don’t forget to collect egg recipes!
It won’t be long and you’ll have your very own abundance of eggs to eat! So start collecting recipes now and enjoy the exquisite taste of farm fresh eggs that you worked so hard raising chickens for!
If you have chickens already, what is on you list of chicken don’ts? If you don’t have chickens yet, what are you waiting for?