Chickens are easy, safe and fun to raise. You need heat, shelter, clean bedding, water, great New Country Organics soy-free, certified organic feed, and, of course, chicks. We’ll help with a little chicken know-how to help get your started.
Starting your flock
Mail order your chicks or find them through your local chicken enthusiast group. Some hatcheries specialize in heritage breed poultry if you’re interested in preserving bio-divserity and historical breeds. You can get a mix and even go in on an order with friends. Order well in advance of your intended start date to be guaranteed the type of bird(s) you want to build your flock. A mail order hatchery will generally give you a day that you should expect your chickens. Be sure to be available to pick your special delivery up from the Post Office.
A stall in a barn, a portion of an enclosed porch, a corner of a garage, part of a shed, a large box, all of these would work fine for your chicks’ first home. Just make sure the chicks are contained, safe from predators, and in close proximity to their food and water. Build them a cozy bed made of wood shavings, hemp bedding, sawdust, or shredded newspaper that can be easily swept or replaced.
Keep your chicks’ shelter at 90-95º F to start, with no drafts. Use a heat lamp for a heat source and elevate it above the floor or ground of your shelter. For day-old chicks, start at 90-95º F and reduce the heat approximately one degree per day for 30 days. Use a thermometer to be certain the area under the heat lamp (far enough away from the birds to be safe) is the appropriate temperature.
Provide your chicks with a gravity feeder full of clean water at all times. When your chicks arrive, take each chick gently in your hand and dip its beak into the water a couple times until it takes a drink. Your new friend will be thirsty. Make sure s/he knows where their water is. Then give the chick food the same way, by dipping its beak into the feed.
1st Month – Approximately 4 lbs. Starter Feed per bird*
2-4 Months – Approximately 1/4 lb. per day Grower Feed per bird
4 Months and on – Approximately 1/4 lb. per day Layer Feed per bird
12 Layers will require:
(1) 50 lb. Bag Soy-Free Poultry Starter Feed
(5) 50 lb. Bags Soy-Free Poultry Broiler/Grower Feed
(2) 50 lb. Bags per month Soy-Free Layer Feed (after 4 months)
1st Three Weeks – Approximately 3 lbs. Starter Feed per bird*
Weeks 4-10 – Approximately 12 lbs. Broiler/Grower Feed per bird
A finished broiler will consume approximately 15 lbs. of feed total.
30 Broilers will require:
(2) 50 lb. Bags Soy-Free Poultry Starter Feed
(7) 50 lb. Bags Soy-Free Poultry Broiler/Grower Feed
*TIP: When giving your chicks Starter Feed, mix in some pulverized, hard-boiled organic eggs for the first couple of days (it’s what they have been dining on so far!)
THE GREEN LIGHT
Chicks are notoriously fast eaters and rush feed through their digestive tracts. You can help them establish correct feeding habits by sprinkling grit over their mash or grain. New Country Organics Gran-I-Grit grinds feed particles in the gizzard so that the bird’s digestive juices can quickly act on every bit of the valuable proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins locked within the feed particles. This converts them into a form more fit for absorption into the blood stream, which aids growth and egg production.
STEP ONE: After your chicks have been home for about 10 days, add a small-sized starter grit to their feed for the next two days. CAUTION: Don’t add grit too early, as this may have damaging consequences for your chicks.
STEP TWO: After those two days, start feeding your chicks Gran-I-Grit in a separate hopper. Continuous feeding of Gran-I-Grit will help prevent digestive disturbances, diarrhea, cannibalism, crop bound conditions, and certain forms of paralysis. After passing through the digestive tract, Gran-I-Grit exercises and strengthens the organs, removing mucus and lessening the chance of disease germs being established.
URBAN COOP COMPANY
We have come to appreciate the Urban Coop Company – who, like us, are fellow sponsors of Coop Dreams. They produce unique, quality, American made, cedar coops, but we should let them speak for their product and brand:
“When we say made in the USA, we’re not using wiggle words. Our wood comes from the Pacific Northwest, our roof metal from the east, and the bulk of our fasteners are from the US too. In fact more than 95% of our materials are from the US. We then fabricate the coops we sell at our residence ranch in Central Texas. We are extreme backyard chicken ranchers too, not just resellers of coops. Buy your coop from Urban Coop Company and not only get a great coop, gain a trusted experienced resource too.”
More info on Chickens?
Check out Harvey Ussery’s guide to raising small flocks of chickens.
Harvey also has a great book called The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, available in our online store.
City Chicks, Patricia Forman’s book on urban and backyard chickens, is also available in our store and is widely considered the micro-flock beginner’s bible. No clucking around.
For more organic literature see NCO’s Organic Syllabus