>> Sunday, March 28, 2010
Yes, I am a newbie to this but I am confident in my skills. I read a lot so my research is pretty in depth. My friend started raising chickens last year and she has done OK so I know I can too.
So what do I need to get started raising chickens?
The first thing you are going to need is a place to keep the chickens. People use all types of things from cardboard boxes, baby swimming pools, steel watering buckets, and my choice was a 45 gallon tote from big lots for $12 bucks.
Once I am done with it I can use it to store things in the garage or garden. Just remember they will begin to grow, need space to move around and they jump and fly so something with higher sides is better.
The second thing you need is a heat lamp. I bought two heat lamps from the tractor supply, you could get these at home improvement store. I got my lamps for about 7 bucks each. Then you need RED lamps to put in them. Chickens can turn on each other with white light and it gets intense for them if too bright.
The third thing you need is shavings for the floor. Pine shaving work best NOT CEDAR. The chicks love to play in the shavings, they go to the bathroom in it and push it all around.
The fourth thing you need is a watering and feeding supplies. I bought mine for about $2 bucks apiece. I would suggest getting a water one for sure but the food one can be a small bowl. I ended up taking the top part of my feeding thing because it wasn't coming out very well.
Now to decide where you are gong to keep them? I have a lot of people suggesting keeping them in the house..not gonna happen. I talked to the guys at the tractor supple and said I was thinking of my garage. He said that was fine and where he keeps his. With the two heat lamps on full time and I have them lifted up off the ground onto a table they are kept pretty draft free and warm. I checked on them all the time yesterday and today and they are fine. The rule is...if they are huddled under the lamp they are cold. If they are trying to get away from the lamp they are hot. If they are wandering around and kind of spread out they are fine. Mine were fine and the low way 30's degrees last night.
They love to chirp too....
Choice your chickens wisely. What type of eggs do you want? I got four types. The advice I got was that they would get along if they were raised together otherwise they will fight. Well they will fight anyway. One chicken will try to dominate the other chicks at some point anyway but that is for another day. These are cold weather hardy chickens, friendly and docile. You want to hold them (washing your hands very well after) as much as you can when checking on them because you want them to be friendly to humans. Just don't let little kids stress them out or other animals. Each week the lamps can get a little further away from the chicks as they grow and don't need as much light...a 5 degree decrease a week.
Today I had to check each of them for what I will call "crap ass". Not friendly sounding or fun to do but sometimes the chicks get the crap all dried up around their butts and if not cleaned properly can die. Two of my chicks got a nice warm paper towel to the butt and rub. They didn't like it and neither did I but it had to be done.
They drink a lot of water and spill it, play in it and push the shavings in it. Big sigh..they are babies.
I did some reading on cleaning out the chicken holder and most said as long as the shavings are not wet you can just add more on top of it so I plan to do that mostly but they are getting water everywhere so tomorrow I am going to clean and replace the shavings. I will put them in a box while I wash and dry their container.
You need to check on them at least three to four times a day to make sure they are warm, have food and water. There is plenty in my house to help so this is not an issue for me.
That is the beginnings of chickens 101.