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Last year we bought a house on five acres that we absolutely love! One of the first things on our to do list with our new found space was to get chickens. We eat a lot of eggs in our family of six and thought this would be great for us financially (in the long run) and be great lessons for the boys. We did some research about chickens and jumped right in. Maybe too fast and not fully prepared, but it has been a fun experience. This is how we raised our chicks in a brooder box.
Deciding What Breeds to Get
We decided on getting two breeds of chickens based on personality and temperament and cold weather hardy. We needed breeds that will tolerate the boys and not be too temperamental with them. The boys love animals and are all over them when they can be. We live in Minnesota and also needed very cold hardy chickens to survive cold winters. We researched different breeds and chose to go with Black Australorp and Plymouth Barred Rock.
Ordering the Chicks
We looked at some places online to order them but then I found out that we could get them from our local farm store. This was much more convenient then getting them in the mail. As we found out, you can order all hens, a straight run, which is a mix and you don’t know if you’ll get hens or roosters, or just roosters. We ordered hens because we wanted just egg layers, nothing fertilized. However, we have found out that there is no guarantee that you will get just hens because it is hard to sex a chick. As with everyone, we got busy and kind of forgot about the order dates *face-palm*. When I found the order sheet again I had one day to get my order in. Off the the farm store I went. We had to order a minimum of 15 chicks so we got eight Black Autralorp and eight Plymouth Barred Rock. They were arriving in 2 days and I had nothing ready!
I used a large storage container that we already had to make the brooder box. I put some anti slip shelf liner like this… Amazon
on the bottom of the container and added a layer of shredded paper. I have read some people use wood shavings or hay but I used this as it was something that I could make on my own and didn’t have to keep buying more. It was now ready for the chicks!
Bringing the Chicks Home
We were now all ready to get the chicks home and into their new box. They were so little! I was surprised how small they were and the tiny box that we got them in. I didn’t get a picture of them in the box but I wish I would have. They loved their new little home!
I have heard mixed comments about having a feather duster in the brooder box. We added it so they had something to hide under and had a sense of security. It got hung up slightly so they could go under it but not lay on it. That is the con for most people, if they can lay on the feathers, they will poop on the feathers and it becomes unsanitary. Our little chicks loved having it there but it was high enough for no poop!
What to feed and water the Chicks
I had no idea what the chicks needed to eat or drink since this was our first time raising chicks. When I went in to pick the chicks up on delivery day, I spoke with the staff at the farm store and they were very helpful. When we ordered our chicks we opted to get them vaccinated against a couple different diseases, mostly because we have four boys and didn’t want unhealthy chicks. So for food, I could pick between a medicated food which is recommended for chicks that are not vaccinated, or non-medicated food for chicks who were vaccinated. I went with the non-medicated since our chicks were vaccinated. For water, they can have plain water but it was recommended to me to get electrolyte supplement for them. I got the kind shown in the link which is just a packet that you add to a gallon of water. We stuck with feeding the chicks just the chick food until we moved them to the coop at around 9 weeks old.
I will be posting soon about our coop build and the how it is turning out and how the chicks are liking it. I will also talk about how fast they grow and what we had to use for a brooder box when they outgrew this on. Subscribe to my blog to make sure you get the update when it gets posted.