Spring is a season of new life. From young plants to baby animals, the world is awash with tender beings.
Planning to add some backyard chickens to your farm or urban homestead now that the weather’s warming? Like all babies, the first few months of a chick’s life are fundamental. Make the most of them by properly tending to your young flock.
Preparing for your Flock
Begin by checking the local city ordinances, reading your homeowner’s association rules, and applying for any necessary permits. Remember that each chicken will need about four feet of coop space and up to 10 feet to graze.
Make sure you know:
- How many chickens are allowed on your property?
- If your area allows for hens, roosters, or both.
- Location and size of your future coop.
- Any necessary permissions from local government, neighbors, etc.
Of course, before you’re ready to start bringing in your birds, you’ll need to do a little shopping.
Supplies and Set Up
Start with essentials like feeders and waterers, pine shavings, heat lamps, a thermometer, rakes, etc. Set up the space 24 hours before their happy homecoming.
Disinfect your supplies using water, apple cider vinegar, and a drop of bleach. Then set up your circular brooder in a safe, insulated area and add 3-4 inches of bedding. Center a heat lamp attached about 18 inches above the brooder. Start at 95 degrees F and decrease by five degrees from week to week.
You can set up clean egg cartons to feed and water your chicks at first, but you’ll need to quickly train them to use the feeders. Keep them both at room temperature, especially the water. Provide one quart of fresh water per dozen chicks.
Next, you’ll need to pick a nutritionally complete starter and grower chicken feed that sets the foundation for their overall health. With the right formula, healthy chicks become healthy egg layers.
At a minimum, complete chicken feeds combine vitamins A, B, D, E, and K, trace minerals, and amino acids to support growth. Look for a feed with at least 18% protein, 1.25% calcium, pre and probiotics, marigold extract, and lysine and methionine to encourage chicks to develop fully.
Milestone Chicken Feed Specifics
Providing more than the minimum will only help your flock take flight. Our high-quality Milestone Starter + Grower Chicken Food provides a fully extruded diet, utilizing novel ingredients. Our blend is specially designed to target better digestion, stronger immune system, and healthier birds, that (eventually) produce top quality eggs.
Here’s a bit of what we add to the mix:
- Non-GMO and Organic ingredients, free of corn, wheat, and soy.
- Protein from Alfalfa, Fish, and Cricket Meal for superior bioavailability.
- Zinpro Minerals which promote a plethora of benefits ranging from better immune response to stronger egg shells.
- Diamond V Yeast Culture, which increases digestive ability, a strong immune system, and an overall healthier digestive system.
- Coconut Meal for a quality fiber and fat source that is easy to digest.
- Essential Oils from Pepper extracts, Cinnamon, and Rosemary; a unique blend that functions as a natural antimicrobial to help promote a healthy flock.
- Small extruded nuggets that are easily consumed, reduce waste, and very palatable (Berry Flavored).
As you grow your family, make sure to provide chicks with a steady supply of clean water, nutritious feed, and a warm, safe environment.
When they’re relatively settled, gently dip their beaks in the water, so they know how to access it from feeders on their own. Show them where the feed is, too. Make sure each chick demonstrates they know how to access both within the first few hours.
Your new chicks should get around 22 hours of light in their first week and at least 10 hours by week two. As little as 40-watts per 100 feet should provide plenty of light.
Don’t hesitate to hold your cute new chicks, too. Just make sure you wash your hands first. Over time, some gentle petting and handling will help to imprint and socialize them.
Moving forward, make sure to add these to your daily chore list:
- Clean feeders and waters, removing bedding scraps. (Use gentle soap and water for a full scrub once a week)
- Change wet or soiled bedding and replace with fresh pine shavings.
- Listen for shrill or rapid chirping, which can indicate a problem among the flock.
- Observe their nesting habits. If they’re huddled in one area, use thermometer to check the temp. Chicks scattering to the outer edges of the brooder guard usually mean the heat lamp is too hot. Alternately, if they’re huddled together at the center, it’s not warm enough. All to one side can indicate a draft.
There’s no wrong way to celebrate the coming of Spring. Caring for Spring chickens is a different story. Follow these tips to create a happy home for your future egg layers.