Starting a Flock of Chickens: 5 Important Tips for Success


| 2/25/2015 8:47:00 AM


Tags: chickens, sustainable farming, Virginia, Forrest Pritchard,

Baby Chicken 

It’s almost that time of year again: when crocuses begin to nudge through the frozen ground, and birds begin their annual migrations northward. Can chicks be far behind?

Certain as spring follows winter, your local feed-n-seed store will soon offer baby chickens for sale: stock tanks softened with sawdust, warmed by heat lamps, and populated with downy fluffballs on legs, otherwise known as spring chicks. But for first-timers (or even for experienced chicken enthusiasts), selecting, purchasing, and preparing for your flock can seem like a daunting task. After thirty years of raising chickens, here’s my personal guide to ensure your new flock remains safely tucked beneath your wing.

The Brooder

Preparation comes first, and that means having a clean, secure place for your chicks well before you purchase (or hatch) them, commonly known as a ‘brooder.’ Now, it’s your job to think like a mother hen. Will the chicks be warm enough (a steady 95-98 degrees)? Will they be secure from predators (this means rodents, as well as the family cat or dog)? Do they have a steady supply of fresh water, abundant food, and clean bedding?

Brooders can be as simple as a large cardboard box with a heat lamp, or four half-sheets of plywood screwed together with a large hover. But unless these important details are settled in advance, things can quickly go awry.

Chicken Brooder 




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