So when I started the backyard chicken adventure I jumped on in, head first. Not that this is a bad thing. In Missouri we had chickens but granny took care of them most of the time. But then again I consider her a chicken expert I did however watch her and play close attention ( just on a tangent my grandmother-in-law rocks). And this is why I decided on getting chickens. She made it look easy *wink*.
Now chickens in the general sense are pretty easy to care for. Chicks though, I feel require a lot more attention and care. And well they deserve that attention and care so you can cultivate a healthy flock, of course this is a newbie opinion. I am a daily spot cleaner of the brooder, I make sure water is constantly clean. I do use medicated feed, but I was also introducing chicks at different ages into the brooder. My first four chicks are about 8 weeks ( the Rhode Island Reds), the second set of chicks are 4-5 weeks ( Light Brahma’s & Partridge Rock), the third set is 3-4 weeks ( Speckled Sussex (2), Sicilian Buttercup, and A cook coo Maran ( I am assuming her feet are not staying yellow, Barred Rock have yellow feet, Coo Coo Maran’s grey). Some people are against it -the medicated feed, but with varying ages in chicks, I wanted to be better safe than sorry. I weaned them off the medicated and now it’s just the starter/grower feed.
I also give them treats. Oatmeal and hard boiled eggs are perfect treats and safe for chicks to eat. Anything else- don’t do it.
We started out with the watering trough as I call it and I HATE those things! Let me repeat HATE! They constantly get dirty, you will be changing water way too frequently! NOT WORTH IT- also clean water is very important to the health of the chicks. I even tried putting them on some containers I filled with rocks to hold in place, still pretty dirty, I even put those little glass pebbles in the water. NOW this does cut down on the need to clean out the water. BUT it still gets dirty, I used a strainer to dump the glass pebbles in and then rinsed those and the waterer. Then you have to put them back in. The golden winner of giving chicks water is the chicken nipple waterer. You can take PVC piping or a bucket, drill the hole as directed and insert the chicken watering nipple and they are curious little creatures and figure it out on their own pretty easily ( at least for my chicks).
I did leave a container in there underneath that needs to cleaned off. But my Buttercup is a small breed chicken so I wanted to make sure she could get to the water with ease ( she is also my favorite, if she had a choice she’d just hang out on my shoulder all day).
Chick brooder Quarters. We chose to use our old cabinets that they pulled out after we had the house fire it has worked perfectly with a few adjustments. It’s a bit “red neck” but it works. I lay down pine shavings. Chicks need sturdy ground to walk on so never do just newspaper. I have heard lot’s of people say paper towel is pretty awesome too. I like the pine shavings because once I clean out the brooder I simply take it out to the garden boxes and dump in it as a filler/ fertilizer for the dirt since we are in the process of getting them filled and ready for planting.
I am trying to think of what else. GET A CHICKEN FIRST AID KIT going. I had a few chicks with pasty butt, this can kill chicks it will clog their vents and they cannot poop. ( That and if you meander over to The Chicken Chick blog she is an amazing plethora of information on treating your chickens if you can’t get to a vet or don’t have a vet whose very familiar with working on chickens).
Here are some of my favorite resources on chickens:
I could write a ton more and most likely will. My best suggestions for setting up the chick brooder is something that is not plastic. You can find old base cabinets at restores or on craigslist. Skip the long trough feeder. I actually want to improve on the feeder by using PVC and attaching to the side of the brooder-here is a good example in link below just get smaller pvc for the chick brooder:
^ Now as you can see I started off with that trough feeder- its horrible- I just continuously check the smaller one less mess ( one with round container).
^ the glass pebble method- this is just a pic of cleaning the pebbles, shavings get into the water so I find it works best to rinse and then you can dump the shavings into trash or outside into garden/ compost. I cleaned the waterers twice a day with this method.
much better in the way of delivering water to the chicks is the chicken watering nipples, its hanging closed up I use one of the waterers we bought originally turned it upside-down screwed in a eye and then we loop a bungee cord into hardware cloth on top to hold in place.
The chick brooder- you can see that I used a 2×4 to block the shavings from coming out of brooder- I still get a little mess but not as bad I use a scotch pad to scrub poop off the wood when I clean the brooder.The green totes have the shavings in one and their food in the other. With them getting bigger I removed one door and stapled hardware cloth to secure them for safety since we have cats but it lets in sunlight and more air to breath since they are getting more feathers by the day!
So last but not least, if your’e wanting chickens, check your local laws for such. Some HOA’s won’t allow chickens,etc we purposely bought a house within the county because it doesn’t designate how many chickens just a reasonable amount, and our backyard i pretty big. Most urban settings don’t allow roosters. So if you get roo’s you need a plan either give away or sell ( I have two chicken groups I am part of on facebook- another great resource- get to know your fellow chicken people). Or the other option is eating the roosters. I made sure for the most part to get dual-purpose birds eggs/meat.
I am not against eating meat,it may make some people cringe to think about eating their chickens. I often make sure I give thanks through prayer and of course the animal is raised and treated humanely and same goes with the method of death.
Anyway I hope this helps some others out there get their brooder set up just right.