Spring Time Means Chick Time: From Chick to Chicken

If you have ever had farm fresh eggs, then you know this is one of the best reasons to raise your own chickens! Fresh eggs truly have so much more flavor than store-bought eggs! This all has to do with how the chickens are raised, what they are fed, living conditions, etc.

We have had chickens for years now and they always add such a special touch to the farm. We have well over 50 chickens now! Every year we love to hatch baby chicks and this year was extra special. We actually had one of our mother hens hatch her own eggs!

This is the first time on the farm that one of our mama hens hatched a large number of eggs. It didn’t happen once, but twice this year! We ended up with well over 13 baby chicks from each hatching. 

Once the babies hatch we bring them inside and we have a stock tank all set up for them. We put down shredded bedding in the bottom of the tank.

We then put a feeder and waterer in the tank with them, a little trick we learned over time is to put the waterer up on a rock, this helps keep shred out of the water. You can also get electrolyte packets at your local feed store to add to the chick water.

Chick’s need chick food, so head to your local food supply store and look for chick grit! You then need a heat source for them like a lamp or we use a brooder heater. They need to stay under heat until they are fully feathered, so around 6-8 weeks.

We also made a top for our stock tank just out of wood and chicken wire. Otherwise when they get big enough they will start to jump out.

Handling your chicks is so important! This will teach them to trust you, but it helps make them friendly. This is a great activity if you have kids, it teaches them patience and also how to handle these small delicate creatures.

If your kids plan to handle the baby chicks make sure they wash their hands before and after.

They are being supervised while holding them, and I suggest having the kids sit while they handle them. This way you’re less likely to have accidents and the chicks aren’t overly stressed!

Once our chicks are big enough and out from under the heat we move them outside into their own enclosure. They need to be in their own enclosure that way other chickens don’t pick on them. You need to make sure that your chickens have a safe place to go into at night.

We have several chicken coops that have an enclosed outdoor area for them to roam around in.

Make sure your chicken coop is solid, animals can be good at finding any little hole that they can sneak into. If you plan on having your chickens roam free you still need to make sure they have something safe to go into at night.

Getting your chicks used to going into the coop at night can be tricky. What we like to do is put them in the coop for a few days so they get used to it then start to let them out. You will probably have to put them away at night fir a few days. They should get the hang of it and put themselves away.

Chickens usually start heading to bed once the sun starts to set and it’s getting dark. We just have shred down in the chicken coop. In the nesting boxes we put these nesting pads, it almost looks like fake hay down.

Once they become chickens you will start to be able to tell the gender. Roosters have larger and sturdier feet and legs than hens. Roosters also don’t lay eggs like hens do. It’s good to be able to identify your chickens because they will probably fight and you will need to separate them.

We usually separate our hens from the roosters and have them in separate coops. Even then sometimes you will have fights and we usually take out the ones that are fighting and let them roam free around the farm.

One thing many people don’t know is you don’t need a rooster in with your hens to get eggs, you only need a rooster in with them if you want to be able to hatch the eggs. 

Once the chickens are about 18 weeks or start laying eggs this is when you should change their feed over to a layer pellet. They also make this a crumble which is what we feed our chickens. When we let them out in the morning this is when we give them a scoop of food, freshwater, and collect their eggs.

In the warmer months, we go out before bedtime and give them another scoop of food and fresh water again. Then once it gets dark they all start to head into the coop for bedtime. 

Don’t be surprised if your chickens start laying less or stop laying altogether in the colder months. This is due to shorter days, them using more energy to keep themselves warm. They also using a lot of energy to generate new feathers for the following year.

You could always put a heat source to them in the cold months, extra bedding, and putting more chickens in one area also creates more heat for them!

Chickens are really great animals to have and are easy to maintain. They have so much to offer from giving you food, eating bugs, to having such fun personalities. They each develop their own personalities. I love being able to watch them roam all around the property and just enjoy being free. 

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