Author Topic: New to chickens (what I'd do differently)  (Read 1458 times)

Offline AllYouNeedIsLove

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New to chickens (what I'd do differently)
« on: April 18, 2013, 08:16:17 PM »
23 of the 26 chickens seem to be thriving - 2 are struggling a bit, and 1 died. I've just posted a new set of pictures in the new to chickens thread, but thought I'd reflect on the first four weeks and what I'd do differently.

  • First off I'd like to thanks to everybody who has helped, both on this forum, my friend Mark who's raised a couple thousand chickens now, and the cackle hatchery who sent good instructions. We got chickens in spite of being busy with full time work, having a 2 year old, and the wife being 8 months pregnant. I'm glad we just did it even though at times it felt like too much.
  • I would have started the chickens in the garage instead of in our house. At the latest, I would have moved them out at 1 week rather than at 15 days like I wound up doing. Chickens start to smell and kick up dust pretty quick, and they really aren't pets the way a dog is. Perhaps obvious, but the first few days they are so cute you don't think about it. By day 14 I was feeling inexplicable rage toward the chicks - when I mentioned this to my friend Mark, he said it was probably instinctual - and that his buddy had nearly died with their first batch of 225 chickens because he had lived in a garage/shed with them for too many weeks and had gotten a serious respiratory infection. In hindsight I fell quite sheepish and idiotic particularly with my wife being pregnant and having a 2 year old. Start the birds outside - even if it is cold (it was 25 degrees when they arrived) just get more heat lamps or more wattage if you have to.
  • Be careful of styrofoam - we had styrofoam in the dog house they are using as a roost box, and the chickens have eaten or pecked off all of the styrofoam they can reach. From what I understand, it won't be fatal, but it is a mess and you really don't want them eating styrofoam.
  • When the chicks are very young, particularly if they have been stressed, check for pasty butt - we're pretty sure that's why we lost the one chick that has died so far.
  • Have back-up bulbs of different wattages for the heat lamp - the bulbs are very fragile and if you shatter your only one when the chicks are young, all of the sudden you have an unnecessary urgent situation.

Well, those are the things I'd do differently - I hope it helps!

Offline Rutger

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Re: New to chickens (what I'd do differently)
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2013, 08:43:28 PM »
This is only my 2nd year raising Cornish Cross chickens, but we leave them in the brooder till about 3 weeks. Mine are at 2 weeks now, and I add fresh shavings almost daily at this point to keep things clean and smelling good. I wait until 3 weeks because right now things are cold here at night and I worry that they will not handle the cold nights (Below 32 most nights still) well until they get there feathers in.

As for the garage, that is what we do. Instead of adding more lights, we put plywood roofs on top of our brooder boxes and used blankets to cover the gaps. The lamps hung in the boxes and we could get temps up to 95 in the brooder when the ambient temp was 20 degrees. Always easier to insulate than add more heat.

You know, I never thought of having extra heat lamp bulbs around...  what was I thinking? I will pick up an extra couple tomorrow. Bad survivalist, bad! ;D

Offline Zip

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Re: New to chickens (what I'd do differently)
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2013, 10:20:18 AM »
Good tips man.  I also kept the chicks inside too long.  I'm still dusting the office where we kept them and feel like I will never get all of the dust out.  I even had to take my computer apart and blow off all of the components to get the dust out.  We still have not decided where we will keep them next time.  Probably put them in a corner of the coop.