Thursday, April 5, 2018

How I Raise Chicks

We let them out a lot for human interaction and exercise

We all do it differently and I am no expert on the subject, but I thought I'd share what I do.

Recently the youngest and I brought home a darling pair of peeps from the feed store.  I don't always buy my peeps from the same place each time, but instead I've actually gone to different places intentionally.

The first time I bought chicks, after loads of research on the subject, we drove to a hatchery.  Lots of variety to choose from, very knowledgeable staff to answer questions, great experience and loads of fun too.  The next time we went to a local feed store.  Unfortunately we didn't do well that time as they peeps weren't healthy and we had three deaths in three days.  We tried a different feed store (same chain, different store) and those two survived leaving us eventually with four healthy hens.  This time I went to a different feed store and so far so good.

So tiny

I am nervous chicken mama, I admit.  I raise my girls in the house where I can keep an eye on them, make sure they are warm enough, have plenty to eat and drink and of course, get plenty of love.  It is how I am.

A small and cozy space so they stay warm enough
Note the marbles in the water feeder
The first two weeks they stay in our cat carrier near a heat source, but not too close.  In advance of their arrival the carrier gets a bleach bath, is thoroughly dried and then gets a thin layer of pine shavings.  I also bleach bath the chick feeders.  For added safety I put marbles in the water feeder to reduce the risk of the babies drowning.  It's a great trick.

A piece of cardstock keeps them from getting their heads
stuck and helps keep the bedding inside
By week three I move them into a large dog carrier that I purchased at a thrift store just to use as a brooder/infirmary/chicken jail (should someone require a timeout).  I clean that carrier out the same way as the cat carrier.  The peeps move in, I remove the marbles from the water feeder and they stay in that until they are ready to integrate into the coop.

We change out the water frequently because the kick the bedding into it
I also cover the brooder with a thick bath towel each night so they stay warm
and settle down to sleep in relative darkness

I personally prefer pine shavings over straw.  The pine shavings are cleaned out of the brooder and replaced once a week and we have no issues with odor.  They are also easily compostable.  I purchase all natural chick starter, usually a 25# bag, and they eat that until they are big enough for lay pellets.  I choose not to buy any other feeds and I do not put additives in their water.  I also supplement their feed with veggie scraps when they are about 4 weeks old on.

They love to sit on top of the feeders
They also love their humans and time spent running around stretching their legs

I try to keep my chicken keeping simple and very basic and it has served me well.  Like I said, we all have our own ways of doing things, but this is how I choose to raise chicks.


  1. They are adorable! Thanks for the mini-tutorial. Ever since I found out we could keep up to 6 hens (no roosters) without the size of our property being an issue (we have .70 acres) my daughter has been teasing me to get chickens. I do love them and we had them as kids (the kind that got butchered at the end of autumn, mind you!)
    But we have a cat that clearly considers birds as prey, so their infancy indoors would be spent being terrorized by a thug kitty. I couldn't do that to those fluffy lil peeps!

    1. I have a murderer too. Fortunately he spends most of his time outdoors. He knows better than to go after my girls, but I still don't trust him.

  2. Loved the pictures and the walk down memory lane. I miss being entertained by the chickens we have owned in the past. However, I don't miss the allergic reactions (itching, rash, misery) when I got too close. It was impossible NOT to touch their warm, soft, cuddly down feathers. Watching from afar is safer for me.

    1. They are so funny and definitely keep me entertained.

  3. So cute, what lucky little chicks to have you as a chick momma!!


    1. Oh, thank you Tania. I sure do love my little darlings.

  4. Cute! I put a brick under the water to keep trash out of it. Of course, anything will work instead of a brick. And, whatever you use might need to be lower than a brick. You will know best about the height according to size of chicks.

    1. I've tried that and my little poops kept knocking it off the brick and spilling water all over. Little stinkers.

  5. My son in law and my 3 year old granddaughter surprised Mommy (my daughter) with 12 chicks one day. She had no idea and they were totally unprepared. She rigged up a light and little box for them and has now moved them outside in a make shift house. So far, they are all still living and she knows she has one mean rooster already. They are really enjoying them.

    1. Oh my gosh, that would've been a surprise. Roosters can be mean. We had one growing up and he was horrible. Lived to be 11 years old, he was that ornery. ;)


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