Raising Chicks The Basics
For anyone interested in raising chicks, the process is not hard or complicated. However, there are certain issues that you have to address if you want to be truly successful. Let’s take a look at the basics of raising chicks.
There are basically two ways to get a chick out of its egg. You can use laying hens who will sit on the egg until it hatches or you can use incubators and brooding boxes. The choice is up to you, but many prefer to use the incubator and brooder box this allows for much more control.
One of the keys to successfully raising chicks is preparation. Having the tools you need before needing them is crucial. You will need, at a minimum:
A Secure Chicken Coop
An Egg Tray
Automatic Egg Turner (optional)
Heat Lamp and Thermometer
Shallow Food and Water Trays
Pine Shavings or Newspapers to Line the Brooder Box
You should set your incubator temperature to 99.5 degrees two days before you expect to put the eggs into it. It is also a good idea to make sure the automatic egg turner works properly.
It normally takes about 3 weeks for chicks to hatch, and much of that time will be in the incubator so it must work correctly.
It is very important to remember to put the eggs into the turner with the small end of the egg down. The larger end of the egg contains the air sac which the chick will need later on to breathe.
It is also important to monitor the temperature daily. Do not allow the heat inside the incubator to get above 99.5 as this may kill the chick inside the egg.
Some incubators have water troughs. Fill this as directed and keep them filled throughout the hatching period. Make sure you follow the instructions as some incubators should not have the outer trough filled for the first couple of weeks.
On the 18th day, you want to remove the egg turner and place the eggs on the mesh wire within the incubator. You will not turn the eggs any longer and should not disturb them at all until the chicks hatch.
Another important part of raising chicks is the brooder box. Now is the time to get it ready for the newly hatch chicks. If you buy a brooder box, follow the instructions. If you do not buy one, make one out of a cardboard box with some pine shavings or newspaper on the bottom.
Place your food and water trays inside the box. Chicks should be fed special chick food which is smaller in size that adult feed. Make sure they have plenty of clean water and that the heating lamp is left on and set to the properly temperature.
Raising chicks is not hard; it just takes some preparation and monitoring. Once you have raised a few sets, you will get the hang of it easily and enjoy adding to your flock for many years to come.
When you are trying to learn how to raise chickens, you need as much information as possible. In this section, we look at watering your birds as well as protecting them from predators.
Unlike most other animals, a chicken has virtually no defenses other than running away. This makes them easy prey for other animals. The good news is you can provide protection via your chicken coop, hen house, or chicken run.
When you look for plans for chicken coops, take a moment to consider how the plan is designed for protecting your animals. For instance, you want to purchase chicken coop plans or hen house plans that have instructions on how to install wire over the windows, vents, and other entry ways.
You want plans that allow for some kind of flooring. Having your birds on the ground, in the dirt, that is, is dangerous as many predators can easily get to them. Dirt floors are also hard to keep clean and can lead to outbreaks of disease.
If at all possible, you want your chicken coop to be off the ground. This is the best way to keep unhealthy bugs, rodents, and other predators out of the coop or hen house. It is also the best preventive measure for keeping the floor dry during wet weather.
If you chicken coop is built more than 18 inches above ground level, make sure you add a wooden ramp so the birds can enter and exit without harming themselves.
The next important issue you have to address is one that can make or break your efforts. It has to do with water.
Chicken coops, hen houses, and chicken runs all need some form of delivering clean, fresh water to your birds. It has been estimated that as many birds die from lack of water as from all other threats combined. This is especially true in hot weather.
There is no set amount of water per bird. Chickens will drink when they get thirsty provided they have access to clean water.
It is vitally important that you provide enough watering points for the number of birds you have. You should know that chickens will often refuse to drink water that is filthy or has droppings in it. They will also refuse to drink water that is either too cold or too hot.
Many quality chicken coop plans will contain important information on how to set up watering points to accommodate the number of birds you plan to house. Do not underestimate the importance of watering your animals properly.
As you can see, many of the potential problems associated with raising chickens can be prevented by simply being prepared. Give your chickens the right type of feed, as determined by their age and purpose, provide them with fresh water, and build them a chicken coop that is safe and secure and many of your worries will be gone.
If you run into anything you do not understand, look into one of the many online forums dedicated to this hobby. You will be surprised at how many people will help you as you try to learn how to raise chickens that are healthy and wholesome.
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