Chickens are a wonderful addition to your prepping endeavor. They are easy to raise and will provide meat and eggs for your family. But how do you get started? It isn’t difficult, you just need to do a little planning, and then you will be ready to have your own flock of chickens!
Where do you buy chickens you may be wondering? If you are lucky enough to have a big box farm store like Murdoch’s, or The Big R you just need to wait until early spring. Around Easter every year, they will bring out the huge troughs filled with baby chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese to tempt you to buy them for your children’s Easter basket.
There is also the added benefit of being able to purchase feed and the supplies you will need in order to get your flock started easy.
If you don’t have one of these stores close by, you can even buy your chicks online. The benefit of this is you can predetermine when you want to get your chicks, and you can do some research of which chickens will work the best for you. There are many different breeds of chickens, so being able to learn about each breed is helpful before you buy them.
SPP115 Getting Started With Chickens and Supplies
Listen to this weeks show for more information about raising chicks into chickens…
How it works
You go to the online site where you want to buy your chicks, fill out the order form, and bamo! Your chickens will be delivered to you by mail! These hatcheries ship the baby chicks when they are one day old, and believe it or not, the chicks are very hardy already. We have purchased this way before, and have always had good outcomes (meaning no dead babies)
Purchasing Chickens Online:
If you are buying the baby chicks online, you can even have your chickens vaccinated to protect them against Marek’s Disease. This is a widespread disease affecting domestic chickens in all sections of the world. It is characterized by lesions affecting the nervous system, organs, and other tissues. Young chickens under 16 weeks of age are most susceptible. There is no treatment for Marek’s once the birds are infected.
Chicks must be vaccinated as close to the time of hatch as possible for the vaccine to be effective. Vaccinating your birds for Marek’s is another appropriate step in strong poultry management.
Once you have decided you would like to have your own chickens, there are some things you will need in preparation for the arrival of your chicks.
You will need:
- A brooder (where the baby chicks will live until they go outside, (we use a clear plastic tote)
- A Heat lamp
- A waterer
- A feeder
- Bedding (either pine shavings or newspaper)
- Baby chick feed (either medicated or regular, I prefer medicated)
- Electrolyte powder for the water
The information below is from the website Chickens For Backyards, we have purchased chickens and ducks from them and we have had very good results.
The temperature should be kept at 95 degrees under heat source for the first 2-5 days, then reduce it by 5 degrees each week until you reach 70 degrees. The chicks should not need much heat after that unless it is particularly cold. A thermometer is recommended to monitor the temperature. Also watch the chicks’ behavior to judge whether or not to make adjustments.
You should provide 4’ x 4’ space per 25 chicks to start. For grown birds, you need 3-4 square feet per bird.
FEEDERS and WATERERS
Use feeders and waterers designed for chicks under 4 weeks of age so they are able to see the feed or water and reach it easily.
You can use medicated feed and use amprol in the chicks’ drinking water from second day until 6 months of age to prevent coccidiosis.
Use large pine shavings, hay or straw for bedding. Do not use sawdust, sand, cypress or cedar shavings (cypress and cedar are toxic to chicks). Also do not use newspaper because it is too slick.
Use chick starter and sprinkle on paper towels for the chicks. After the first day, use feed troughs low enough so the chicks can see and reach the feed easily. Keep feed available at all times.
Things to know about baby chickens
It is common for birds to use their beak to groom or pick themselves. Baby chicks will often pick each other if they are too hot, too crowded, or without fresh air. Sometimes bright light will cause the picking and changing to a red bulb may help. Picking can also be caused by stress from having the light on 24 hours a day. After two weeks, you may need to consider an alternate heat source instead of a light. After dropping the temperature each week and if they no longer need the heat source, remove the light or heat source.
Sometimes they pick for no apparent reason. Try putting in fresh green grass clippings several times a day and darken the room. Chunks of grass sod can also be set around for the chicks to pick at.
To treat chicks that have been picked, apply menthol ointment on the injured area and keep up the treatment until healed.
Sometimes, the stress of shipping causes the manure to stick to the back of the chick. It is important to remove this daily. Wash it off with a warm cloth and warm water. It will disappear in a few days as the chick starts to grow. If it continues to be a problem add a sulfa-type drug to their drinking water as directed on the package.
SAFE HANDLING OF POULTRY
Live animals and pets can be a source of potentially harmful microorganisms, germs (including salmonella) and bacteria. Therefore, precautions must be taken when handling and caring for them. Children should be supervised to make sure they don’t put their hands or fingers in their mouth, nose or eyes after handling the animals. Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling any animal or pet.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
- Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
- If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers.
- Don’t let children younger than 5 years of age, elderly persons, or people with weak immune systems handle or touch livestock including poultry.
- Don’t let livestock inside the house, in the bathrooms or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
- Don’t snuggle or kiss livestock, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around livestock.
But When Will I get Eggs???
Your chickens will be able to live outside when they have their feathers. This is at about 5 weeks old. So you have plenty of time once you get your baby chicks to get your chicken house ready for them.
The hens will start laying eggs when they are about 4 to 5 months old.
This is why I would suggest getting your chickens early, because it will take about 4 months before they will start producing eggs for you. But once they start laying, get ready for it! Depending on what breed of chicken you choose will depend on how many eggs they will lay per week. In my experience, we usually get 3-4 eggs a day from 4 young hens. That means during the summer, if you have 4 chickens, you will get close to 2 dozen eggs a week. Their egg production will slow down a lot during the winter, and as they age. But when they are young, you will have a bounty of fresh eggs!
Our newest flock will be coming to us around March 7th, so it will be July before they will begin laying, but after that, we will be having a lot of fresh eggs!
Holster & Tac-Bar Giveaway
In the last few episodes of the Survivalist Prepper podcast Lisa and I have mentioned the latest giveaway we are doing that includes a holster from Precision Holsters and a Tac-Bar survival rations package from Expedition Research. Click here to find out more about the contest.