Last July, we bought a house on three acres. We very fully intended to eventually use the land to raise animals (pet-type animals, not food-type animals). I have been wanting chickens for ages, but Jake isn’t a huge chicken fan, and he was very reluctant.
Then. He found a person who was wanting to get rid of their chickens, and he said we would take them! My jaw just about hit the floor I was so shocked when he told me. The problem was, we’d have to transport the chickens and coop about 250 miles. Things ended up not working out-Jake and the owner of the chickens just couldn’t ever make their schedules mesh, and we ended up having to pass.
But! Since the seed had been planted and we were going to do it anyway, he agreed I could start from scratch with baby chicks.
So, here we are today, with 18 baby chickens.
-6 Buff Orpingtons, 3 are pullets and 3 were from a straight run bin (that means they weren’t sexed so we could get hens or roosters)
-3 Rhode Island Reds (also straight runs)
-1 Silver Laced Wyandotte (the bin wasn’t labelled so I’m thinking straight run)
-4 Gold Laced Wyandotte (should be all pullets, from a local person who was selling off extras)
-2 ‘assorted pullets’ that I have no idea what breed they are
Between the time of us planning on taking the chickens from Jake’s coworker, deciding not to, and then acquiring our baby chicks, we had a lot of time to do some research. Bringing baby chicks home isn’t a simple as running down to the feed store and picking up a few babies. Once home, they need some pretty particular conditions in order to stay alive, and there are health issues that can pop up that one needs to be aware of so things can be handled promptly.
Before I got my first batch of chicks, I found a brooder (we are using a very large cardboard box), purchased food and water containers, and an EcoGlow 20 heater. Chicks must have heat. Many people use heat lamps, but especially since we are using a box as a brooder, that scared me too much as far as being a fire hazard. I also picked up a package of puppy pads to line the bottom of our brooder box, and a package of pine shavings to use as bedding. We decided to go with non-medicated feed, so we grabbed a bag of that (just buy the big one), and also a bag of meal worms, although our chooks are too little for treats yet.
The next thing I focused on was building a chicken first-aid kit.
My current kit includes:
-Vitamin B complex
-Poly-vi-sol (without iron)
-Probiotic and electrolyte powder
This is not nearly a complete kit, but it is a good start. I need to get some of the commonly used antibiotics to have on hand, but I haven’t had a chance to do that yet.
The two biggest health issues I have noticed that people come across are pasty butt and wry neck. We have been lucky, and although a couple of my chicks had a touch of pasty butt, it wasn’t anything lasting or serious. We have been feeding the chicks hard boiled eggs smashed up, as well as adding probiotics to the water (the first day I did electrolytes and then switched to the probiotics). I found a Facebook group that has been extremely helpful and is full of knowledgeable people who can offer real-time assistance when things are going down hill.
For now, everyone is happy and healthy in their brooder, but at some point we’re going to need a coop. I drew one out, and priced materials-for the amount of chickens we will have, we need a big coop and run, so we are looking at at least $700. (It probably could be less, but our coop will essentially be in our front yard, so I want to use nicer materials so it will be pretty.)
OR! If I can convince Jake to let me convert our storage shed into a coop, we will only need to build the run and that would save us a ton of money, but he hasn’t decided yet if that is something he wants to do. (I really, really want to use the storage shed. It is in the back of the house, and close to our dog run so there will be added deterrent for predators.)
We are at the begining of this journey, but I am learning so very much, and honestly loving every bit of this. (Even the poop. Goodness, chickens poop a LOT.)
Here are my two newest babies, the silkies. So far, they don’t have names.