How to Pick Up Chicks Part 1- Planning
In the spring of 2017 Mr. Food it Yourself and I began our lives as chicken tenders. We began with four grown-up hens, purchased from friends who own a farm. Unfortunately, two of our original flock have gone on to Chicken Heaven. It is time to obtain more chickens.
There are several options for re-populating a chicken coop. If you have a rooster, of course, the process is easy. We are roosterless, though. Fertilized eggs can be purchased from poultry dealers. You can then place them under a broody hen or inside an incubator. One of my favorite chicken owner sites, My Pet Chicken, has a really good, easy-to-read guide for hatching eggs. Neither Martha Clucker nor Madame Ovary is particularly broody, and one of them seems to enjoy breaking and eating eggs if we do not collect them in a timely fashion, so that is not an option. Our schedules do not make an artificial incubator a practical option either. We will have to purchase live chicks.
The first stage of planning is to figure out how to purchase the chicks. There are plenty of places on line that will ship day-old chicks through the mail. Most sites have a minimum number of chicks you have to buy; which is not a deal breaker for us necessarily. However, our town’s post office is staffed by, ummm, not the most competent postal workers I have met. We decided to order through a local farm co-op and pick up our chicks in mid April.
We also have to plan where the chicks will grow up. Since we do not have a broody hen to take care of them, we are clearing space in our spare room. We can set our chicks up with a radiant heater, food and water. We will have to put a door on the room to keep the cat away from them. Even if she does not want to snack on them, she might squish them while trying to “share” the warmth of the heater.
Also, I plan to spend a chunk of my next paycheck on chick feed (which is different than the layer feed one gives to grown hens), supplements to add to the chicks’ water, feed and water troughs, and extra litter for the brood box. You really need to have that stuff available and set up before the chicks arrive.
Finally, we have to prepare for when the younger chickens eventually go outside. Our “summer” enclosure has plenty of space. However, in the winter we have to keep them in a smaller enclosure. Leafless trees do not offer protection from hawks. Also, we get snow in New England. Thankfully, the manufacturers of our coop sell extensions for the attached run. We can lengthen the winter run as needed. Also, we have researched our chicken breeds, and have learned that some deal better with confinement than others. We will pick those that deal well with being confined.
We still have lots of work and lots of time to wait until we have more feathery residents laying tasty, beautiful eggs here at the Food It Yourself home. It is a big project. Yes, I will keep you updated as things progress. What is the most ambitious DIYet- related project you have ever attempted? Share in the comments!