Baby Chics or Full Grown Hens? What is best and what you need for both?
It’s baby chic time or if you happen to frequent places like Tractor Supply or any sort of Coop, you’ve already figured that out for yourself. They’ll usually have a section with lots of baby chics, items you will need to keep them and so on. I believe Tractor Supply calls the next few months, “Chic Days”, if I’m not mistaken.
If you do go the baby chic route, you will need a tote or something to keep them in. Link – to supplies and such to give you an idea. You will need a heat lamp or something to keep them warm because they have to have a temperature of around 100 degrees. It drops five degrees per week until they get about 10 weeks old. I was told by a Farmer, don’t put young ones out all night until temps reach 70 degrees or more. And, make sure they have all their official feathers in. When they are babies, they are covered in a fuzzy down.
Here is a chart of heat by age:
|Approximate Heat Needs by Age|
|Week 1||90 – 95°|
|Week 2||85 – 90°|
|Week 3||80 – 85°|
|Week 4||75 – 80°|
|Week 5, 6, 7||70 – 75°|
|Week 8||65 – 70°|
|Week 9||65° minimum|
Credit: Nutrena World
To regulate your heat, you need to have a thermometer inside the tote or bin. They sell those for about a buck a piece. You will also need pine shavings or some sort of wood chips. Some people lay out newspaper but I love the shavings. Once the shavings fill with chic poo, I shovel it around my fruit trees and flower bushes. Shavings is easier, I believe, on keeping things clean and tidy. Great fertilizer.
You will need to decide on FEED – a chic starter food – medicated (with hormones and such) and non-medicated. Big debate here. Some prefer the medicated, which has antibiotics and such in it for their first several weeks of life. Others are against that saying it makes the chics build an immunity against the meds which serves them useless if you ever have to give it to the chickens later. I prefer the non-medicated.
Here is a GREAT discussion on the feed and what people add to water, etc. That’s also a website worth keeping.
Next, water. Keep clean fresh water and keep the shavings clean and dry inside the tote. Also, keep in mind, that once the chics get a certain age, you will have to deal with smell– from the poo if you don’t clean the shavings and chicken dust– a kind of dander they get as their real feathers come in. The dander, depending on where you keep the birds, can dust up everything.
Now, what about big hens? Some people don’t like to deal with baby chics and there is nothing wrong with that. You can find older chickens anywhere– craigslist, yardsale sites, local farmers, etc. Just make sure you KNOW where you are buying from. I had a few people throw me some very old hens or hens that were what breed I was after. Certain chickens can be confused with others – Jersey Giants and Black Astralorps and can be confused if you don’t know a few signs that can tell them apart.
Know your breeds. Know what you are after– meaning, what are your desires and needs? Just something cool to look at? Do you want brown eggs, white eggs, cream eggs, small eggs, medium eggs? Do you want Hens that lay great in the winter or just the summer months. Do you want Hens that lay every day or every other day? Do you want dual birds – meat and egg layers or do you just want meat or just egg layers? Do you want quiet birds, birds that do well in confinement or birds that are great free-rangers. That’s what I mean when I say, KNOW what your after.
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