Raising Baby Chicks
I'm guessing that your family is looking forward to raising your own flock and enjoying fresh eggs from your own hens.
But how do you get started? One of the most common ways to get started raising chickens is to buy newly hatched chicks.
This is also one of the best ways to get started.
Starting your family’s chicken raising adventure by raising baby chicks offers many benefits that you do not get when you buy adult laying hens or fertilized eggs that must be hatched.
Benefits of Starting With Newborn Chicks
Let’s take a quick look at the advantages of purchasing newly hatched chicks.
A huge benefit of starting with newborn chickens is they are alive! The process of hatching fertilized eggs, while an amazing experience, is also usually (quite a bit) less than a 100% successful.
This can be painfully true for those new to hatching eggs. By starting with newborn chicks, you normally have healthy chicks to begin your flock with.
Additional benefits when you start with raising baby chicks are:
What is the Best Chicken Breed?
Before you shop for new chicks, consider the breed you want. There are many chicken breeds to choose from.
Key Question: What is your main purpose for raising baby chicks?
The best breed of chicken for your family depends a lot on your family’s main purpose for raising chickens.
How do you get new born chicks?
Spring is normally the preferred time to buy baby hens. Buying at this time of the year gives your new new chicks the time they need to gain size and strength before the next winter comes around.
If your family is like many families, you prefer to buy baby hens or baby pullets, providing you with future egg layers.
There are several sources for new born chicks, so do your homework and make sure you purchase from a reputable source.
eFowl.com is an example of an online source. They have a 15 chick minimum and if you buy 25 or more, you get free shipping (free is good). They also have a ton of information there about specific breeds and you can also purchase chicken feed through them.
You can buy a small number of chicks if you buy them from your local feed store.
You can purchase chicks from a poultry show or poultry auction.
A farmers' market may be a good place to meet someone who raises and sells newborn chicks, near your home.
If you want pure bred newborn chicks, you can buy them from a known breeder. Breeder clubs can often put you in touch with well-known breeders.
If you can't find a satisfactory source for your chicks close to home, you can usually find hatcheries online.
Most online hatcheries will have the chick breed you want and you can simply order the number of chicks you need.
Most hatcheries require you to buy a minimum number at one time.
This is usually a good thing since newborn chickens are already social animals and they need companionship.
Buying several newborn chicks at once to start your new chicken family is probably the most common way for families to start their new family of chickens.
Receiving Your Newborn Chicks
When buying chicks online you will probably pick them up at the post office (they are usually packaged and shipped as pictured above).
This is normal. The Post Office notifies you when your baby chicks arrive and you pick them up the same day. The post office may even deliver them to your home but just in case, be ready to run to the post office for them.
Be sure to purchase ‘sexed’ chicks as opposed to ‘straight run’ (mixed male and female) to insure mostly hens, otherwise you might end up with more roosters than you would want!
Prepare for the Arrival of Your Newborn Chicks
Your family’s chicken raising adventure begins when your new babies arrive at your home.
Before your new chicks burst onto the scene you'll want to prepare for them.
Set up your brooder several days before your chicks arrive. You will need a brooder container, a heat lamp, thermometer, baby chick waterer, baby chick feeder, litter for the floor and baby chick feed.
It's also a good idea to know what type of behavior to expect from your new chicks.
Your chicks will need you to check on them several times a day.
It is really fun to watch your chicks turn from little fluff balls into feathered-out young pullets. Your new chicks will delight you with their cheeping, and charm you with their winning ways.
With some basic know-how and a little practice, you will soon be raising your own little flock of happy, healthy laying hens and enjoying a steady supply of fresh, delicious, and nutritious eggs!