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Science Sunday ~ Baby Chicks!

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Science Sunday

Technically, this is an experiment of sorts. Yesterday we picked up eight baby chicks. Considering we’ve never been able to have chickens before, we are in unchartered territory around our house.

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We are in the process of building a coop for the little ones, but since they still have to stay inside for a bit longer, we’re figuring out exactly what we want to do. In the meantime, our chicks are keeping warm under their warming lamp, plumping up on their chick feed and amusing our kids to no end.

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Originally we had only planned on getting six chicks, but somehow ended up with eight…just in case one turned out to be a rooster or in case one of our chicks met an untimely demise. The plan was to get all Rhode Island Reds or Red S*x Links {umm, yeah, there’s a reason I’m putting that asterisk in there!}, but the breeder we bought them from talked us into a mixture for fun ~ 2 of both of the above breeds and then a mix of 3 others, but all brown egg layers. And because I know SO little about different breeds, that’s about all I can really share ~ all I heard was ‘blah, blah, blah’ when she got into all the technical stuff.

SO, I suppose I have some questions for YOU all today. What are your best tips for raising chicks? We’re in the midst of mapping our the plans for the coop and chicken tractor, but if you have any tips or websites that you know are chocked full of great advice, we’d love to hear about them! :) We have months to go before we’ll be enjoying fresh eggs, but in the meantime need to figure out how to keep the hens safe from nearby predators {fox, owls, bobcat and even bears}. Leave a comment and share!!

Stay tuned too ~ next Sunday I’ll start posting our experiments again! We’ve been missing those fun little breaks, but we’re still working on our Nancy Larson Science 1 and just finished up our Zoology unit. Don’t forget to check out some other great science ideas at Science Sunday hosted by Ticia at Adventures in Mommydom.

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Comments

  1. Anna-Marie says

    How fun our neighbor has 4 chickens and we pet sit them whenever they go out of town! My daughter wants chicks too but we live in a rental and the land lord said no:( When we moved back to the states we might try it ourselves. They are fun to watch:)

  2. We just recently got baby chick too, about 3 weeks ago. 2 Road Island Reds, 2 Red S*x links, 2 Buff Orphingtons, 1 Silkie, and 1 “Easter Egger”(lays blue/green eggs!). We’ve had chickens before but have never gone the baby chick route. So far so good. They are getting big now and making a lot of mess! The website I mainly go to for information is mypetchicken.com and this is also where I ordered my chicks from. Raising chickens is pretty easy. They are pretty self-sufficient. Make sure they have fresh water and food, some ‘scratch’ as a treat, and bugs to eat and they are happy chickens! Good luck!

  3. I grew up on a diary farm as a kid. We had chickens. Since they were not our only “animal” we didn’t do much special for them. We did let them roam the farm. They stayed pretty close to their coop. I remember a small shed of sorts with a metal nesting thing in it. I don’t remember how long it was until the eggs came. We just fed them the same feed as the cows once they were old enough. I remember the bags of chick feed too, such a small grind, almost powder compared to what the cows get! We always got batches of 100 chicks too, because we butchered them to eat off all winter! I’d have to ask my parents how many laying hens we’d keep. I am the oldest of 5, so the eggs kept us all fed. Enjoy, Do you know if you have a rooster for sure? If so, warn the kids that they can get mean and peck at you. We had one that would “sneak” up on you and bite your legs. My sister still has scars from where he really got her.

  4. Thehauffamily says

    We LOVE our chickens!!!! :). First advice handle them often!!! Our sons chicken he held the most “buddy” will actually to this day come up and let u hold her where as the other chickens will not.

    We got all of our info strictly from research and our local feed store :) they were great answering the 1000 questions we had. As for the coop are they going to be there all the time or are you going to let them run in ur yard? If your going to let them free it only needs to be a coop for them to sleep (we used an old garden shed that was already there). You will need to build shelves for them to eventually roost and lay eggs on.

    Ask your feed store what type of feed they need bc they will need diff feed at diff stages!!! :)

    I could go on and on. If you have any specific questions email me thehauffamily@yahoo.com

    Our kids LOVE our chickens. We actually built an incubator and hatched our chickens (which was amazing)!!!! The kids are already asking to hatch them again but we have to wait for it to get a bit warmer.

    I’m actually going to splurge this year and get the chickens that lay multicolored eggs :)

    The best part about them. My kids LOVE beyon means going down and getting the eggs (they lay about 4 eggs a day)…the FIRST egg my son found and he still remembers!!! It’s an experience of a lifetime :)

    Melissa

  5. Treehugginmomma says

    We have baby chicks too. We are “urban” farming and are expanding our flock. Check out our blog with regular chick updates!
    http://www.treehugginmomma.blogspot.com

  6. Put a rough rope around any openings to keep out snakes. They dont like the rough on their belly. Keep a few plastic Easter eggs (lightly weighted and super glued shut) to promote egg laying and confound egg sucking animals should they get in.

  7. EmilyStrobel says

    What Melissa said and my favorite site is backyardchickens.com I go there for help, advice and just to read up on chcikens! :)

  8. Hi, We are in our third year of chickens and like you we started with just a few…4. Each coop has grown and changed, we have also increased our flock to 20 layers and this year we may even raise meat birds.
    We got the idea for our latest coop from http://thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com/2006/08/talkin-bout-my-chicken-tractor.html
    As far as the chicks go… If you have access to a garage or shed outside, you should get them in there as soon as possible. Ours jumped from a tub like you have in maybe two weeks. They will need to be warm but if you have nice weather, an hour in the grass and sun will be nice for them (just have them contained in some way or you will spend a lot of energy trying to catch them).
    A great book to have on hand is Storey’s guide to raising chickens, it has saved us and a few chicks over the years.
    I pray you have a great experience with your chicks. They will be fun and educational all around! Keep us posted!

  9. I don’t have any advice, but I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you. I would love to do this but I guess I’m too chicken to do it. lol

  10. No advice, but I’ll be watching your experiment closely as my hubby and kids are set to pick up our own 5 little chicks next weekend!

  11. Megan @ Purple Dancing Dahlias says

    We just picked up ours yesterday too! 56 new chicks and sometime this week 6 ducks and 4 geese will also come in the mail. We feed them homemade feed to be able to stay away from GMOs and animal byproducts that come in commercial feeds. We also make our own electrolyte mixed water. It brings our flock total up to 102 chickens, 13 ducks and 4 geese. We have nitegaurds to keep predators away, I highly recommend them. We have a hoop coop on skids that is movable and one permanent coop. We are going to make an all season coop on an extra trailer this spring so we can move it around our pastures and they will be solely pasture fed this summer.

    http://purpledancingdahlias.blogspot.com/2011/03/new-babies-have-arrived.html

  12. Tracy @HallofFameMoms says

    Funny. My friend and her husband just bought a bunch of chicks to raise for eggs and maybe meat. I was thinking about buying some and adding them to theirs (they have some land where they will move the chickens to once able to be on their own). A learning experience for us all ;)

  13. Not sure if you are going free range??? If you do a chicken run…. add netting to the top (like deer netting)- or you will be chasing those little guys in no time at all!

    We got our first chickens last year- been enjoying eggs since mid-summer.

    Oh, also- Use your table scraps for chicken feed! (minus the meat!)

  14. Samantha Packer says

    http://www.backyardchickens.com/coopdesigns.html

    This website is great and has tons of coop designs! We love our chickens!!

  15. Sarah Scott says

    First congratulations on your new babies! Be sure to handle them lots so that they are friendly. Feed them out of your hand and such…
    We raised our first batch of chicks last year and trust me they are hardier than folks tell you.
    http://www.backyardchickens.com is a great website with a form full of all sorts of advice.
    Have fun they grow really fast!
    Sarah

  16. Oh wow, how fun!

  17. James_joni says

    Check out backyard chickens.com for sure! And I agree about handling them, but be careful to handle them too much when they’re this little. Maybe more gentle petting than holding. Figure out how to call them and do it every time you feed them. That way, if they ever do get out you can call em and they’ll come running in their little chicken legs! Mine are free range and this works soooo well. I make a chicken sound and they know it’s me! Ive found that mixed flocks are the most healthy , not picking on each other as much. Have fun and make sure they get lots of greens and bugs and fresh air and they will give you tons of the best eggs you’ve ever had!

  18. Oooohhhh, I can’t wait to see more about the chicks. I think Jeff would totally freak if I got chicks. But, I’ve been tempted a time or two.

  19. We have 13 chickens, 12 hens and a rooster. This is our 4th year raising chickens. Here is my advice:
    1. Only encourage a lot of handling if you want pets. If you want to eat them next year, allow the kids to play with them, but don’t name them and don’t study them too much. They can still be a “pet” but be careful about attachment.
    2. Chickens are wonderful. They eat all the leftover scraps from plates! Keep a bin (like a compost bin) near or in your kitchen and toss all leftovers to them that people can’t eat. You can even give them nasty things like slightly moldy food. They love the syrup in canned things. They are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and veggies, so give them whatever. They even eat egg leftovers. Stay away from potatoes, because that gives them indigestion, whole eggs (because they could turn and start eating their eggs before you get them) – so you just crunch up the shells of the ones they eat, and we prefer not to give them chicken meat because that gives us the willies.
    3. Keep dried corn kernels on hand. Children love to feed chickens. Dried corn kernels give them an excellent food that the chickens can eat right out of their hands!
    4. Don’t look at the adds for egg prices. It is depressing when Tops has a sale on eggs and they are cheaper than your price for home grown. :o)
    5. Enjoy. In my opinion, they are the best “pet” ever – even though we do enjoy chicken meat.

  20. I want baby chicks! I’d love them and hold them and squeeze them !!!

  21. Jolanthe! We just got our first batch of chicks, too! :) I’m loving all of the advice you’re getting. Keep pooling the sources! Love and eggs to you, my friend.

  22. they are super easy and well worth it!! keep a bucket next to your sink and put all your food scraps in it for them – they LOVE it!! our chickens come running when they see us headed out there with the big red bucket in hand – of course they come running anytime we go out there since they are anxiously awaiting their daily feast!! we have lost a couple to coyotes or foxes and 1 to a hawk! make sure your coop is pretty secure – you would be suprised at how clever foxes are!!
    chickens are animals of habit – they do the same thing day in and day out and at almost exactly the same time every day too! we have to go out at night and close the door to our coop – it is really a shed of sorts – but they are always in it by sundown. we have never had to chase them in – they just do it – unlike our kiddos!!!

  23. We are right there with you! I am doing my best to research organic chicken feed, etc, but the best thing I was told (by a kid who works at my local super-market, who grew up with chickens) is this: they will eat ANYTHING. He told me his parents saved all their kitchen scraps for their chickens. A blogger I read accidentally left an old watering pan under their porch light over night, and when she came out in the morning, it was filled with crawly things! Anyway, her chickens were THRILLED! Mine are just finishing up their “ugly” phase. Oh my they were funny looking for a while!

  24. Yay!! Baby chicks are great! We have had ours for almost a year….my advice is this: build your coop on high ground or somewhere where the rain won’t pool…..when it rains alot you will have a nasty nasty mess in no time. we refer to it as “poop soup” due to all the chicken poo in there. :)

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