I researched buying baby chicks before I became a the proud owner of backyard chickens.
I had never raised anything outside of kids, dogs and cats. I did not grow up on a farm and had really only been around chickens in rare cases. I had no clue what to do with baby chicks and how to grow them up into hens. But, I just knew I could do it. Plus, I wanted to raise chickens for the eggs and since everyone else said it was easy, I believed.
Honestly, raising chickens is easy. But, there was some ground work that has to be done beforehand.
What do you do before you become a backyard chicken owner?
Step 1: Make sure you can have backyard chickens in your neighborhood.
If you own your own home, you may think you can, but that is not always true. There are age-old city and neighborhood ordinances that may keep you from this. Or, you may need to check with your local homeowner’s association. Sometimes there is a loophole you can use, to allow you to keep backyard chickens under certain conditions. For example, if your homeowner’s association allows you to have chickens as an education project, then you can make your chickens a homeschool or 4-H project.
Step 2: Look for the best breed.
Becoming a first-time chicken owner means looking for the best breeds in your area. I could not seem to find out where to purchase baby chicks my first time, so I phoned the local feed stores and found out when their shipment would come in and picked up what baby chicks they had left. I would not suggest just taking what is leftover, but rather, research the breeds of chickens on a reputable website, such as My Pet Chicken.
- Look for breed characteristics that fit your climate and your needs.
- Some chickens lay a lot of eggs and others lay larger eggs.
- Also, check to see if you would like a more friendly chicken. (We ended up with Production Reds, which are not very friendly, for example. Whereas Easter Eggers are super friendly.)
- Do you want a rooster, or are you looking for egg-laying hens only? You don’t have to have a rooster for hens to lay eggs.
- Find the best location for the best quality chicks at the best price.
Step 3: Prepare the Brooder
You don’t need expensive supplies when it comes to creating a brooder. The best suggestion I can give is to put a small pen (with a lid of some sort) somewhere where other animals cannot reach them, or create a box and place it in the laundry room. We have had several instances where our dogs have sniffed out the brooder and had some mishaps as a result, so it is a wise idea.
In addition to a box, you will need the following supplies:
- A lid, such as a screen to keep out other critters and to keep the baby chicks from flying out.
- A utility heat lamp to keep the brooder about 75 degrees in temperature.
- Some covering beginning with wood chips, to absorb moisture, as well as another layer of hay if desired on top of that.
- A small bowl or dish for water and another small dish for chicken feed.
- Baby chick feed and apple cider vinegar for their water to keep them healthy.
Finally, be prepared to love them. Teach your kids how to pick the babies up carefully and let them hold them close to the ground, because they will jump and it could kill them. The more they are held and talked to, the tamer they will be as they grow up and lay eggs for you. Raising baby chicks is a super awarding adventure for kids and parents alike.