Photos by Sara Wright Photography
The gardening season doesn’t end just because the vegetables have been harvested and the cover crop is sown. There is always more to learn that can be applied to the next growing season, and the books section at Livingscape has the best information out there. We carry books on vegetable and herb gardening, pruning, landscape design, permaculture, container gardening, chicken keeping, and so much more. We also have a growing selection of books on growing and preparing herbal remedies.
Caring for your chicks
90 degrees the first week and then 5 degrees less each week, until 60 or 70 degrees and then they should not need supplemental heat anymore. One 125 watt half-power heat lamp in a utility reflector is sufficient. Ventilation is important also.
Provide ½-1 square foot per bird for the first four weeks. Two square feet per bird after fours weeks. Birds often pick at each other if they do not have sufficient space, fresh air, food or water, or are too hot. Fresh grass clippings and/or clumps of sod with grass may keep them busy and help eliminate problems.
Sometimes in the first few weeks chicks tend to paste up on their rear ends (ie, dried poop on their butts). This needs to be removed. Use warm water and cloth or place their butt under a faucet with gentle warm water. Moisten and dissolve the clump. This is less of a concern after 4 weeks.
Do NOT use newspaper (alone) or anything slick to raise chicks on because this may cause damage to their legs. Shavings work well, particularly pine and fir. Straw will work but can be slick for young chicks and usually harder to clean. Be sure to clean often and keep the bedding dry.
Use chick starter crumble for at lest 3 months from hatch. At month 3 or 4, layer hen pellets can be gradually introduced into their food. You may blend chick and layer food or buy a developer feed for the 10-20 week old period. Also, provide some grit, preferably in a separate container (though chickens that are free-ranged at least part of the day may not need supplemental grit). By 4 to 5 months, your girls should be on layer food. It is recommended to provide oyster shells for calcium to assist with egg shell development.
Always provide ample, fresh water to your birds. Use appropriate waterers so that birds do not drown. Do not use bowls or dishes. Raise waterers as the birds grow. The lip of the waterer should be even with the bird’s back. That way the waterers will stay cleaner and it is easier for the birds to drink.
Like the waterers, raise the feeders as birds grow. Hanging feeders and waterers reduce spoilage from chickens stepping in the device.
Be prepared before purchasing poultry. More chicks are lost due to improper preparation such as heat, litter, waterers, feeders and feed than from disease. The area used for rearing should be free of rodents, cats, dogs, etc. It is not suggested to raise chicks together that are more than two or three weeks apart in age. The older ones may pick the younger ones, potentially to death. Use your good judgment if you try this. It is often not a problem, though providing sufficient space and heat minimizes problems.
Buy a book on home chicken raising, talk to friends (or strangers) who have chickens, and search the online for more information.
Good luck, have fun!
Breed Information Websites
Other Chicken Resources
Chicken Health Handbook
This book is an excellent reference and first place to start for non-emergency chicken health questions. We have a reference copy at the store and you are welcome to look at it at the store.
Chicken Vets – Who to call when there is a health crisis
Vet practices come and go. We suggest calling your local vet and seeing who they would recommend. That said, there is the Avian Medical Center off Boones Ferry in Lake Oswego and they may be able to help you or refer you to someone closer to you. Let’s hope you never have to make that call. Good luck!