If it isn’t evident by now, I love my birds… Actually, at some point (I have absolutely no memory of this) I told my mom that ‘Birds were my life’… ok so I may have been just a touch of dramatic there but I do love birds.
So here is what you need to get you started with chickens.
- A Chicken Waterer (You can pick these up at your local CO-OP of Tractor Supply store. You could also check places like Craigslist for them but if you do choose to bring home a used one make sure you wash it really well so that it doesn’t carry any nasty things to your birds.)
- A chicken feeder (These also can be bought at the CO-OP or Tractor Supply. Same with this one if you decide to buy a used one make sure you wash it really well. Anything that is not bought new I spray down with GSE(Grapefruit Seed Extract) and water or a bleach and water mix.)
- Shavings (DO NOT USE CEDAR SHAVINGS the oils in the chips irritate their lungs) *you only need these if you use a box*
- Heat light or an Ecoglow brooder – The Ecoglow brooder is safer but you can use a light from the local feed store with either a regular light bulb or a heat bulb (I usually just use a normal bulb). You can get the Ecoglow Brooder HERE The Ecoglow is a much safer option. I know many stories of families having their barn burn because of the heat lights.
- Brooder or you can use a tall storage plastic bin with the lid off of it (The last one I use, because I like to keep the chicks close for at least the first week or so, that way they can hear us and be handled a lot. It just seems to make them more friendly than the ones I raised outside the whole time.
- Marbles (these will prevent the chicks from drowning in their water, they tend to be a little wobbly and slightly suicidal).
- And the best part Chicks! – You are going to want to do your homework on which breed of bird you want. Figure out if you want egg layers or meat birds. My favorite breeds are Bahrama, Black Australorp, and Buff Orpington.
To set up for the chicks you are going to want to find a place for your brooder or box (Put it in a place not drafty and where if you have other pets the can’t get to them). If you use a box put the shavings in it. This helps their legs to not get injured and is also for the waste. You will need to change this often.
Related Article: Hatching Chickens
Fill your feeder with a chick starter feed and put it in the brooder in a place they can get all the way around it but it is out of the direct heat.
Related Article: Building A Chicken Tractor
Fill the water bottle and put in the box. (again put in a place where they can get all the way around it and where it is out of the direct heat and add the marbles. They need constant access to both food and water at all times.
If you are using a light you are going to want secure it (MAKE SURE IT IS NOT GOING TO FALL) Place it so that the entire box is NOT covered. You want shady parts. Place your little fluff balls into the box but keep an eye on them if they start panting you are going to need to move the light up. Or if they peep really loud you want to lower the light. For the first two weeks, the temperature at the bottom of the brooder should be between 95-100 degrees, then reduced by 5 degrees until the chicks are 1 month old.
If you decide to add more chicks to your flock in the brooder later make sure you do not just drop them into the general population. Introduce them slowly, put them in a place they can see each other but not touch for at least a day. When you do release them with the “cool kids” stick around and make sure they don’t get picked on too much – some pecking is normal, resist being “mom” and coming to the rescue unless absolutely necessary, they must figure out where they are in the pecking order.
Before you go, check these out!