This year, as a family, we have been doing things we’ve never done before, well then again we have toddlers so there’s something new everyday with them around. I think the projects we’ve done, and are in the middle of doing, are mainly because of our children. My husband built a couple of swings for them, a see-saw, an awesome bird-house, and is in the middle of building a chicken coop. Yes, we got chicks! As a side note, I’m hoping to write the instructions on these projects and how we are saving money on them.
So, back to the chicks. The main idea here is that in a couple of months, we will have free, organic eggs. And our children get to be involved with the chicks and hopefully learn responsibilities but they are so small now that we just hope they have fun and enjoy the baby chicks.
We live in an area that allows us to have chicks. We are not getting a rooster because I think that’s more responsibility and I’m not a morning person so I’m not sure how I would feel about waking up at 5am. And I found out that chickens don’t need a rooster to lay eggs; the rooster is needed when raising fertilized eggs to have more chickens instead of buying more (this was news to me). I read a lot before getting the chicks on what type of chicks we should get, how to take care of them once they are little, how to take care of them once they get older, how to build the chicken coop and pen, and how to keep predators out and everything in between. It seemed very overwhelming but after getting the chicks, we realized that it’s not as hard as we thought.
Caring for the chicks is not too difficult. They just need their own place, water, food and warmth. I read about homemade brooders and they are fairly simple. This is what we got:
- Large plastic container
- Feeder and waterer
- Pine shavings (I’ve read the flakes are better for them)
- Chick Starter Feed
- Heat lamp and bulb
- Thermometer (optional)
We spent about $100.00 on them, including the cost of the 12 chicks and everything above, except the thermometer since we already had one. But if you have a plastic container already and create your own feeder and waterer, you can probably save money here. Pinterest is full of tutorials and ideas to raise chickens, I even have a board called “Chickens” because I have lots of information on them. I listed the thermometer as optional because you don’t really need it. The chicks need to be warm enough because they don’t regulate body heat yet so the thermometer helps to make sure it’s warm enough. But the chicks will let you know based on their behaviour whether or not they need more heat. If they are huddled up in one little ball, they do need heat. If they are all trying to get away from the heat lamp, it’s too much. But if they are walking casually around the container and all spread out, the temperature is just right.
My husband is the best! He’s usually the one looking after the chicks and making sure they have food and clean water. And he cleans the container when needed. Taking care of them only takes about 10 minutes a day if cleaning the container. If it’s not too dirty, you can just add more pine shavings on top but my husband likes to keep them clean so he usually changes the shaving every day (the chicks poop a lot!). And he cleans the waterer twice a day because the chicks get shavings on there and the water is not very clean afterwards. So far, it takes them about two days to finish the food from the feeder so that one doesn’t get refill everyday. And we check on them to make sure the heat is okay. That’s it! Fairly simple.
We got the chicks at our local store and we have 10 ISA Brown chickens and 2 Silkies (more for decorative purposes since they don’t lay as many eggs but my husband really wanted them). When I first researched about chickens, I came to the conclusion that I wanted Rhode Island Reds or Sussex breeds because they are considered heritage chickens and lay lots of eggs. But they didn’t have them at our local store and I wasn’t sure about ordering them online; I just don’t know about the condition they would arrive. But I’ve read that the ISA Browns are a really good option for those that are just starting out on this venture, like us. I’m happy with our chicks and hope to have lots of fresh and organic eggs soon.
If you are thinking about getting chicks, you should! It is not that hard to take care of them. Our chicken coop should be ready soon so hopefully I’ll have pictures for you and the process to build it.