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How To Care For Chickens

Ever since we started planning to get our mail order chicks, we have all been reading everything we can get our hands on about how to care for chickens.

Here are the basics of what I have learned from my research:

  • When they are little, chicks need to be kept in a confined area with a heat lamp about 12 inches from them on one end of their little habitat. If they are too hot, they can go to the other end.
  • The temperature should be kept at around 95 degrees until they are feathered.
  • They should have water available at all times and chick food you can buy at a farm and ranch supply.
  • When they outgrow their brooder (the confined area with heat lamp) they will still need to be kept indoors. We use an old shed that we converted to a hen house by covering the floor with 2 inches of pine shavings.

  • As they get older, they will need places to roost. Because chickens naturally have a pecking order, they like to have different levels of roosts so the dominate ones can be higher up.
  • Their coop needs plenty of ventilation, but the windows should be screened to keep out predators. We used hardware cloth to cover the windows since we figured a raccoon could tear through the flimsy screens.
  • They should be kept confined in their coop until they are about 10 weeks old.

  • When they are let out, allow them to scratch and peck for their food. Feed them inside the coop when you want them to come in. They like routine, so each time, rattle the bag, and call “Here, chick, chick, chick…”
  • They will usually come inside to roost at about sunset. If you wait to feed them until this time, they will have extra motivation to follow the program.
  • If they do not go in at sunset, get them in however you can and keep them locked up for a couple of days.
  • Chasing chickens around the yard with a net is no fun after about the first 30 seconds, except to the children when Mother is doing it. In that case there will be hysterical laughter.
  • When you let them out again, give them a stern lecture about what you expect and make sure you call them to get their food at about sunset. They should come running!

Look for the next post in this series, “Nest Boxes”!

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Comments

  1. Momworkdc says:

    Your comment about mother chasing the chickens made ME laugh!! =) You’re a good mommy! Raising chickens sounds like a lot of fun…

  2. Are you saving money by raising chickens or are you doing it mainly for the health benefits?

  3. Oh my goodness! I loved this. We recently got full grown layers who have quickly become like pets. http://4littlefergusons.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/eenie-meenie-miney-mo/
    After this we added a few more to make 12 total. THEN a fox came and now we are down to 8. It was a sad, sad day at the Ferguson house. Well you can imagine my surprise when one morning as I was washing dishes at the sink, my chickens ran by. “Oh they are so cute” I thought to myself. (I’m a fairly new countrified city girl you know) Then they came raceing back the other direction. How strange. Then I saw him. A FOX in my very front yard under my window, chasing MY chickens! I was ticked! I raced out in my bathrobe and slippers, hooping and hollaring and chased him down the driveway. Needless to say, Dale came home from work right away, and taught me to shoot the rifle, I wrote more about that here. http://4littlefergusons.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/tulips-dinner-for-2-lemon-pudding-dessert/
    Girl, you are in for the adventure of your life! But I gotta say, its so stinkin’ adorable to be playing with my kids and look out over our land and see my little feathered friends pecking away. They are so cute! :) The children used their birthday money to buy 5 baby chickies who are now about 9 weeks old. They are soley responsible for those 5 and will eventually be able to sell their own eggs, they are excited! :) Free range eggs sell for about $2-2.50 a dozen around here. How about where you live?

  4. Love it! I soooo love to chase chickens too. HA Dispite the chasing and occasional roaster going after one if the kids, we injoy our chickens. Having fresh eggs and meat is great and so is having fewer bugs (ticks and ants) around.

  5. Alice McD says:

    I’d like a video tutorial on the best way to sternly lecture hens without damaging their self esteem, hindering their creativity, or stunting their cognitive growth in making personal decisions, please. ; )

  6. @Alice McD….. hilarious!
    …As was the image of mum chasing and giving a stern lecture. x

  7. We are currently starting week 5 of our Chick Diary. We’ve had loads of fun and absolutely love our chicks. We have 23. I’m sure your family will just love the experience.

  8. I’m so excited that your are writing about this! We are actually in the process of looking to buy chickens right now. What kind did you get?

    You are so funny! I can only imagine the funny scene that was! :)

  9. I only glanced at the title before reading and thought it said, “How to care for CHILDREN”. Imagine my surprise when I realized my mistake. Though I have noticed a pecking order, a preference for the top bunk and a greater tendency to come in at dusk if there’s food on the table…

  10. I just want to know if the lecture was successful!! hehe!

  11. So glad you got chicks, they are so much fun!!! I love love love how popular chickens are becoming, it’s one of my simple wishes in life for each household or at least every other to have a few chickens in their backyards. Of course they don’t have to go as crazy as me, with 30 laying hens. I love my gals I have 5 broody hens as we speak and chicks due to hatch tomorrow. The excitement keeps coming with chickens.

    I’ve written about my chickens lots if you’d like to have a look.
    http://www.newlyweds-blog.com/tag/chickens/

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  1. [...] Chickens are in our near future–Lots of Great information here:  How to Care For Chickens. [...]

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