|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.
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.