Friday, April 4, 2014

Chick Days

It's the time of year where all the feed stores and hatcheries start selling chicks! Wherever you go you feel like you can still hear them cheeping, tempting you to buy a few. You have spring fever, and can't resist any longer, so you go to the local feed store and look at the chicks. You come home and immediately look up chick care and great chick care products and you find this post. Well you won't be disappointed, we will be able to tell you everything you need to know, and where everything can be bought.

Choosing the right breed for you
If you want to do a little better than the local feed store's meat or egg production hybrids, check out They offer many rare breeds and can give you the lowest minimum order of chicks out of all the hatcheries, just three chicks! If you aren't sure of the breed you want but know what purpose they will serve for, then use My Pet Chicken's Breed Selection Tool! They can help you find the right breed for egg production, meet production, or just plain cool looking!

Here is a Black Silkie Chicken available from My Pet Chicken. Silkies are much smaller than common chicken breeds and have soft, fur-like feathers. They also lay petite little eggs! 

Here is one breed you'll surely recognize; the common White Leghorn. Leghorns are great if you're interested in a good laying bird. 

I bet you've never seen any eggs like this at the supermarket! These are from a breed called the "Olive Egger" which is a mix between the Ameracauna, which lays dark green eggs, and the Black Copper Marans, which lays a chocolate colored egg. These breeds are among the favorite breeds sold at My Pet Chicken so if you want a few you should check in the mornings on Mondays and Fridays when they recount and may have some extras.

Basic Chick Care
Raising chicks is one of the best parts of having chickens. Seeing them grow up from little balls of fluff into big gorgeous gals (or guys) is amazing. But if you don't take good care of them, they may not grow up into the birds you wanted them to be. Chicks can get small deformities such as spraddle leg and curled toes that can be easily cured or prevented in the first place. Nearly all of these deformities can be prevented by avoiding vitamin deficiency. Vitamin deficiency can be avoided by adding things to your chicks water like Save-A-Chick. Chicks will also need a artificial heat source for the first few weeks or even months of their life, to do the job of the mother hen. Most people use a heat lamp to keep their chicks warm, but is it really worth the risk? Many people loves there chicken coops, barns, and sometimes even houses, to fires caused by heat lamps. Depending on the scale at which you will be raising chicks, here are two kinds of brooder heaters and what we like and don't like about them, and our personal experiences with with.

Pros: Low energy, Not a fire hazard, self-suspended, less likelihood of pasty butt.
Cons: Not great for use in rooms where temperature drops below 50*F, Not a very big chick capacity in Ecoglow 20 or Ecoglow 50, chicks quickly grow out of it because of its short height, cannot see the chicks when underneath it. 
Personal Experience: I only use these for chicks that are new out of the incubator and under a week old because they quickly grow out of it and because I can't stand not being able to see them anymore. Would suggest the Ecoglow 20 for under 10 chicks in a heated room. 

Pros: Low Energy, Not a fire hazard, has large chick capacity, chicks and chickens of all ages can use it, can be used in barns and unheated spaces during winter, available in many sizes, less likelihood of pasty butt. 
Cons: Must be mounted to wall or hung by chains.
Personal Experience: These are great for us because we brood most of our chicks in our barn, where it can get cold at night and very cold during the winter when we sometimes brood chicks. They can also be used for keeping the adult birds warm during the cold winter nights. 

Feeding is something that varies upon a few important factors but generally isn't too difficult to figure out. Here are the most common feeds and why they are different than the others.

Exclusively from My Pet Chicken, Chickie Puffs! Chickie Puffs are healthy, and encourage your chicks to eat! They can be mixed in with any of the chick feeds below to make your chicks enjoy them even more! To prove how much chicks love Chickie Puff, My Pet Chicken took this video.

This is a great way to boost your chicks' immune systems and get them off to the right stat in life. This is especially important if your chicks aren't vaccinated, as it keeps them safe from diseases while they are most vulnerable. While it may cost a little more, it's worth it if it means healthier and happier chicks. 

Non-Medicated Chick starter is a good choice for those who cannot afford medicated feed or have chicks that have already been vaccinated. Non-medicated feed is much cheaper which makes it better for larger batches of chicks.

Organic Chick Starter is great for those who want to one day be able to sell organic eggs. Organic eggs sell for much more and so do chickens, if you chose to sell any. While you might make more selling organic eggs in the future, you will have to suffer through the bill for this first! On the bright side My Pet Chicken has a much better price than most other suppliers do!

Where to keep the Chicks?
Whether in your bathtub or spare dog crate, the chicks will need to go somewhere! If you only plan to brood chicks once and a while, you can make it by with a cardboard box or some brooder panels like the ones below. 

...Or maybe you will build your own so you can show off some of those carpentry skills you haven"t been able to put to use...

Here's ours that we have in our barn for LOTS of chicks! It has since been modified with a lid and has a large sweeter heater installed inside too. It can hold whatever we want including grow-outs and adults so its very handy to have around. 

Whatever you chose to keep your chicks in, make sure it's the appropriate size and they can get away from the heat source if needed so they don't overheat. And if you really have to use a heat lamp please make sure it's well mounted to avoid it from falling and starting a fire. 

Wish you could get it all in one big kit? Well you can! My Pet Chicken offers this wonderful Baby Chick Starter Kit so you will have everything you need to raise some chicks for the first couple weeks! This is what we used when we raised our first couple chicks and it worked like a charm! 

Hopefully this covers most of the things you were wondering about before you got chicks, but if there's anything I missed, email me at

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