Eggs, Chicks, Chickens, Eggs

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I have mentioned before that our little farm all started with the three chicks my husband brought home.  There were two Rhode Island hens and an Araucana.  The first egg we ever got was from the Araucana.  I thought someone put a fake egg in the nesting box because the egg was a  shade of blue.  I had never seen such a color in an egg before and now they are my most prized.  Feathered friends have been a part of our daily routine for 25 years now and having fresh eggs is one of those things we couldn’t do without. Chickens are a growing frenzy in neighborhoods today.  Many urban cities are allowing up to 10 chickens (hens) right in small city lots. They are so easy to care for and they give back ten-fold.  Besides the beautiful, rich eggs they produce, they are little composters, bug getters, manure producers and if that wasn’t enough,  the enjoyment you get from watching your flock forage in your back yard is somewhat peaceful.  Chicks can be purchased at many feed stores or pre-ordered through catalogs and come through the mail.  If you have access to fresh eggs from a farm with a Rooster about, you can even venture and incubate your own in only 21 days.  An advantage of ordering your chicks is that you can get chicks that have been sexed so you will have all pullets (females).  I  order my chicks from mypetchicken.com and  mcmurrayhatchery.com when I not incubating my own.  They have a great selection of rare and exotic chickens.   Over the years I have dabbled in many different varieties including, silkies, polish, hamburgs, cochins, wyandottes and so many other varieties, but my favorite chickens are the great egg layers like the Cucoo Maran a chocolate-colored egg layer, Araucana which lays shades of green to blue, Silver Laced Wyandottes that lays good during the cold winter months and is beautiful in the orchard roaming about, and the old-time stand by, New Hampshire Reds and Barred Rocks.  Of course we always have a few odd balls joining the flock of girls to try new varieties.  But anymore my main reason for raising chickens is for egg production so I stick to the heavy breads and good layers.

Starting your chicks is simple and you will be trouble-free if you are prepared ahead of time.  Keep a close eye on your babes the first few hours especially.  Your new little fuzz balls will need to be indoors for 5-8 weeks.   I keep them in a wash basin for the first few weeks then as they get bigger, I move the growing fowl into a pine box we built just for chicks.   A cardboard box will work just fine.  They need enough room to move around comfortably with a waterer and food tray.   These little babies like it hot! A warm brooding lamp with a red heat bulb is best.  Watch your chicks behavior.  If they are all cuddled up under the light they are cold!  If they are avoiding the light like the plague they are to hot and you should move the lamp up a little. Each week I raise the height of the lamp to lower the temperature about 5 degrees.  Fresh, clean water is so important.  Check it often!  I feed organic chick starter.  It has all the ingredients to give them a healthy happy start.  I like to feed this mash for the first 16 weeks and then I will move them straight into layer pellets or crumbles. Oh, those little cute fuzzy chicks poop and poop a lot!  They need their bedding cleaned often.  I put down a layer of newspaper (this helps for a fast clean up) followed with pine shaving to absorb the smell, keep them dry and give them traction.  Don’t use cedar shavings as they can contain toxins.  I will change the bedding daily just by rolling up the newspaper with all the bedding and toss in the compost pile.  Never let your babies stay in wet bedding!  Once they have a full plumage of feathers they can be put out into the coop.  If the weather is still cold I will put out the heat lamp for a few more weeks to get them acclimated to the new temperatures. Depending on the breed of chicken you will be getting your first eggs when your beauties are around nine months old.  That’s a day you will remember!

2 Comments

by | May 26, 2011 · 4:47 pm

2 responses to “Eggs, Chicks, Chickens, Eggs

  1. Jennifer

    Can I put my little chicks outside durning the day to get some sunshine?

    • Once your chicks are 2-3 weeks you can take them out on a warm day. 70 degrees or warmer. They will love the sunshine and the chance to scratch around in the dirt. Make sure the have some kind of wire cage or erect some other temporary housing and place it in the sun. Don’t leave them unattended. Neighborhood cats or other predators are a major danger for the little chicks.

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