Raising chickens at home is not particularly difficult. Nevertheless, there are specific tasks that must be completed to ensure your baby chicks become healthy adult birds.
The following are some helpful tips regarding this activity:
Creating a Safe Home for Baby Chickens
Initially, a chicken coop and fenced in area in which to keep your baby chicks must be created.
The coop, sometimes referred to as a chicken house or hen house, and the fenced in area, commonly referred to as a chicken run, are both necessary to contain the baby chickens in a permanent home environment.
You can build your own chicken coop, provided you are handy with such activities and can follow instructions.
Designating Space for Each Chick
A minimum of three chickens makes a standard flock. Because this type of bird is social, raising just one is never recommended.
A 3' x 3' cube is the smallest space you should allow for each flock and the chicken run should measure at least 10' x 10'.
In most cases, something called a "brooder" is a chick's first home. The brooder size varies depending on the number of baby chickens, but each chick should have at least 2 ½ square feet.
If you are not quite sure about the size, always err on the side of caution and create a larger brooder. Pine shavings, litter or something similar should be placed in a thick layer on the bottom of the brooder.
Newspaper is not proper lining material, as it is too slippery for baby chickens and can subsequently lead to foot disorders as they grow older.
A light bulb or reflector should be used to heat the brooder. These can be acquired without much difficulty at a local hardware store or farm supply company.
Alternatively, a clip on lamp can be used. Regardless of which device you choose, the chicks should be kept in an environment of 90-95 degrees for the first full week.
After this, the heat should be reduced on a weekly basis by five degree increments until the chicks have their full set of feathers, which can take up to two months.
Using Proper Sanitation When Raising Chickens at Home
Brooders should never be allowed to become damp or dirty, as the health of baby chickens depends, in part, upon cleanliness. Chicks are prone to numerous illnesses, including the disease called Coccidiosis, which quickly proliferates in moist environments.
When raising chickens at home you should clean their area on a regular basis to lessen the risk of them contracting this disease.
Roosts and Perches
With the chicks are about one month old, small roosts and perches should be made available, measuring approximately four inches high.
This encourages your baby chickens to begin roosting. However, the roosts should never be placed directly under heat lamps, as excessive heat is harmful.
Water and Food
Fresh, clean water should be available to your chicks at all times. When using water bowls, fill them with marbles or pebbles to prevent drowning if the baby chickens accidentally tumble into the bowl.
Just like their full-grown counterparts, baby chickens scratch at their food. For this reason, most experts recommend investing in a feeder designed to keep their food in one general area.
Models featuring slider tops and galvanized steel make excellent choices. Feeders should be cleaned and refilled regularly, as chicks frequently get confused and use such dishes as a bathroom.
Standard baby chicken food is referred to as "crumbles" and you can choose from nonmedicated or medicated blends.
Medicated crumbles usually contain small amounts of medication developed to prevent Coccidiosis.
Keeping Chickens Healthy
Chicks should be regularly observed for signs of lethargy or disease. Additionally, be on the lookout for something called "pasty butt."
This is a condition that develops when droppings stick to the chicks' feathers. It makes it virtually impossible for them to relieve themselves, and can be fatal if not promptly treated.
If it has occurred, hardened feces can be removed by soaking the area with a small amount of vegetable oil.
Baby chickens are by nature very lively and curious.
When weather is mild, it is healthy for chicks to explore and play outdoors for short lengths of time.
They must be monitored carefully, however, as they move fast and frequently squeeze themselves into small spaces and become trapped.
They must also be protected from other animals, as they are helpless against predators.
Finally, if the chicks appear injured or sick, a professional evaluation should be made by a veterinarian familiar with avian species.
With a bit of time and effort, you can build your own chicken coop and raise baby chickens at home, both of which are interesting and rewarding activities.