Chick Days – 6 days old

Since my Sundays usually consist of a rest day, cleaning, laundry, and regrouping for the coming week (not very interesting blog material) I decided to start a mini series on chickens!

You read that right- chickens. Barry and I decided to get some chicks, so on Friday I went down to Tractor Supply and picked up six 4 day old baby chicks. They are all supposed to be female and the breed is Red Sex Link.

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When you bring home baby chicks, you have to have a brooding area where they will live for the first 60 days or so. We used a cardboard box, covered the bottom with 2-3 inches of pine shavings, and have a heat lamp. You want your brooder to have at least 18 inch walls, to guard the chicks from drafts. For the first week or so the chicks need it to be 90 to 100 degrees under the lamp. After that we will decrease it by 5 degrees (by raising the lamp) each week until they have their feathers.

Brooder all set up and ready for chicks!

You can guage how much heat they need just by looking at where they are in the brooder. If they are huddled together under the light they are cold (they’ll also peep a lot when they’re cold). If they are spread out along the edges, as far from the light as they can get, they are too hot. If they are just kind of scattered throughout then they are comfy cozy! The intent of the brooder is to keep the chicks near the heat source and protect them from drafts.

We have the brooder (cardboard box) in the garage, where the dogs won’t mess with the chicks. For the first two weeks they need one-half square foot per chick and after that they’ll need one square foot per bird. That means I will need to find a bigger box in about a week and a half!

Say hello to Cecilia, Reba, Agnes, Beatrice, Lady, and Dolores. Yes I named them. No I don’t know who is who.

As you can see, they make a mess out of their feeder. Right now they eat a chick starter in the form of crumbles. It is medicated and has an 18% protein ration. While they’re young, chicks need feed with 18-20% protein (24% if they’re broilers). When they get to be 8-10 weeks old, we’ll switch them to a chick grower feed, which has a little bit less protein. Then at 14 weeks they will switch to a maintenance ration, and at 20 weeks we will switch to a laying ration.

We also put marbles in the waterer to keep them from drowning themselves.

This is my first time raising chicks! As they grow I’ll share pictures, and things we learn along the way. I figured I can do a weekly update to show how they’ve changed and new stuff we’re doing with them. We are looking forward to fresh eggs!

16 Comments

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  1. Oh, those baby chicks are cute! Maybe you’ll be able to tell them apart when they’re older.

    Both my grandpa and a great aunt that lived near us when I was little had chickens. If my mom needed eggs, I would ride my bike to my aunt’s house and pick them up. In exchange, I would take milk to her from my dad’s dairy.

    1. Sounds like a fair trade to me! Although I don’t think the sale of raw milk shoild be legaluzed in VA (I feel the need to state that since there’s been so much debate about it the past few years), it tastes so good! There’s nothing like it.

    2. Oy sorry about all the typos! I’m still not very good at the touchscreen on my new smartphone. But I promise I know how to spell “should” and “legalized” πŸ™‚

  2. THIS IS AWESOME!!!

    I had a flash back to Friends when they got Chick and Duck, but I assume your experience will be different, ha. So many things I never knew you had to think about – heat, food, drowning, drafts, space. My parents owned some chickens long before us kids came along and they really liked it! They had a couple turkeys, too, but I think a mountain lion came and ate all except one, whose leg got all messed up and they called her “Peg” for peg leg from then on. Apparently she was mean.

    Fresh eggs sound delicious! Can’t wait to hear all about your experience!!!! How old do they have to be before they lay eggs? Do you have to get a rooster for them to lay eggs?

    1. No! The rooster will fertilize the eggs and then they will have chicks and not eggs. I think it takes about 6-9 months for hens to start laying, right, Meagan? You should totally read the book Farm City about a woman who raises animals in the ghetto in Oakland. It’s funny.

    2. Sounds like I need to look up what happened to Chick and Duck on friends, haha. There are a lot of animals that go after chickens (coyotes, foxes, raccoons, hawks, dogs, etc.) so we definitely need to keep that in mind when they move outside!

      Amy is right, a rooster would fertilize the eggs. We don’t want baby chicks πŸ™‚ you just feed them a laying ration for them to produce eggs. They’ll start laying around 20-25 weeks, which will be mid to late August or even September.

  3. I want Chickens SO BAD! Their eggs are amazing and they are just so fun and CUTE. Awesome.

    1. I’m excited to have them! My husband and I talked about it a lot last year, so we decided to give it a go.

  4. This is AWESOME. I *really* want a miniature cow, but my husband is TOTALLY not going for that. Hens would be a nice compromise, but now we live smack dab in the middle of the city, and I don’t think our landlord would be too keen on us loosing them on the roof…

    That said, the eggs we buy at the store don’t travel that far (less than a few hundred miles, most likely), so that’s not too bad… πŸ™‚

    Can’t wait to follow this adventure, though!

    1. I’ve never heard of a miniature cow before! I’ll have to look that one up πŸ™‚ hens would mist definitely be a good compromise!!

  5. I’m soooo insanely jealous!! I want chickens! I buy farm eggs from a coworker and they’re so much better. Can’t wait to see your chickies grow up!

    1. I agree they do taste better. The farm eggs I’ve had in the past always have a harder shell, so you have to tap them harder to crack them. Then when we switch back to store-bought eggs I forget they’re softer and end up tapping them too hard and they spill all over!

  6. You are so adorable… chicks!! I just laughed out loud (like, really loud) when you said, “Yes I named them, and no I don’t know who is who!”
    This will be so much fun, following you through this awesome process!

    1. It was fun to pick out names πŸ™‚ my best friend puts a drop of food coloring on their heads to tell them apart, but I’m not that concerned

  7. aw they are so cute. We use to do the egg hatching with baby chicks when I was student teaching in 3rd grade. It’s so cute to see the kids get SO excited as they watch them.

    1. Aww I bet they got so excited! In 3rd grade we did caterpillars/butterflies. Not as exciting as eggs!

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