Category Archives: Caring for chicks

Purchased chicks from McMurray Hatchery

I haven’t had much luck lately getting my two-year old Barred Rock hen’s eggs to hatch out except for a couple chicks out of the 8 that I would put under a Silkie hen.

So, I ordered 25 chicks (plus the free rooster) that are Barred Rock hens.  The BR hens seem to sell pretty well here.  I want to keep maybe 5 for myself and I will raise the other 20 to sell.  The first of June 2016, they will be four months old.  I should be able to get $15 each.  That is 300 dollars and I am paying $95 for the chicks. I will make a little money out of it.  I will have to pay for four months of feed plus a little extra on the electric bill for the heat lamp during the cool nights.

I just enjoy raising the chicks so much that I am not really trying to make money out of the deal.  I would love to make some extra money, don’t get me wrong.

My Barred Rock chickens are at least two years old and I still get 2-4 eggs daily from the 8 hens.  I hatched out BR hens on September 10 and two more on November 14 of 2016 so I do have four more hens that will start laying.

I also have two Cochen/Silkie mix hens that just started laying in the last couple months.

My five Silkie mix hens are still pumping out the eggs daily.  They have been laying for about 17 months.

So even though it is winter in Florida, I am getting between 5-10 eggs a day which is a gracious plenty (as we say in the South) for just me and my husband.  It was 71 degrees here today.

So, just a thought, maybe buying about 25 hen chicks might work out well for you, too.  I do have 2 acres so that makes a difference, too.  Lots of room to keep the chickens healthy.

Isn’t it amazing that they can mail baby chicks to you thru the post office?  I know the chicks can last three days without food or water because they have absorbed the yoke from the egg as food.

I will go to the post office on Jan 30th when the chicks will be mailed off and give them my phone number so they can call me as soon as they come in.  I don’t want my mailman to deliver them to my house.  I think it is mandatory for a phone number to be provided to the post office to call you to pick them up. I expect I will get them the 31st or Feb 1 at the latest.

I am so excited.  Good luck with your chickens.  Keep their water clean and their yards clean and it is not hard to have healthy chickens.

Update:  12 May 2017, added comment.  Unfortunately, I ended up with four roosters out of the 25 chicks I received that were suppose to be all hens.  I called McMurray and they credited my credit card for the four roosters but it still remains a problem that now I have to find homes for the roosters.  That sucks.  I did manage to give one away to a person who purchased 5 hens from me.

I ended up selling the chickens earlier than I expected  because I needed to go out of town.  So, I sold  3 sets of 5 hens for 50 dollars so I made $150 off the chickens.  I put them on Craigslist for 12 dollars each or 5 for 50.  I am keeping five of the hens for myself.  So, I made about 55 dollar plus the 11 credited back to me and I got the five hens free basically.  Since I have not gotten ride of the roosters, I am thinking of processing them myself and putting them in the freezer.

 

More Barred Rock chicks hatching

My brother-in-law’s chickens stopped laying so he needs more hens.  I put six eggs under one Silkie hen and six under another Silkie hen about a week later.  Silkie number one hatched out two chicks yesterday and two were throw away a day or two ago that we could smell were not viable …. rotten.  yuk

We usually check the eggs about day 14 to see if they are fertilized and going to grow into a chick.  I know after day 16, you are not suppose to move the eggs.

So far, Silkie momma #2 is still sitting on six eggs and hers are due to hatch on Thursday, six days from today. I didn’t plan this too well because I don’t really have two nurseries.  Unfortunately, I am recovering from hip replacement surgery so building something right now is impossible.  I figured out something to do temporarily until I see how many chicks the second momma has.  If the first one only has the two and the second momma only has a few, I will give them all to one momma.  Usually, all my eggs hatch out from my Barred Rock so I am a little puzzled why two went rotten and two still haven’t hatched out.  My rooster definitely has his favorites out of the 8 hens he is with.  The hens are about 18 months probably.

Well, I will update this post as the chicks hatch out.  Don’t you love baby chicks.  And these Silkie moms are the best.  I hated hatching in an incubator….adjusting temperature and moisture.  Made me crazy!

Baby chicks during the winter

I love baby chicks and was very excited when a couple of my Silkie hens were broody in December.  Because I didn’t want more bantam chickens right now, I put six Barred Rock eggs under one hen.

I have learned from experience that it is best to separate the broody hen and her eggs from the rest of the flock but you really have to wait until the hen is dedicated to the eggs.

Because the dark brown eggs were much larger than the bantam eggs, I knew if another hen laid an egg in the broody nest, I could remove it and be sure I was not removing an egg that was starting to grow into a chick.  So I left the broody hen and her eggs in her normal setting for a week.

Then I moved her to a 4×8 chain link cage and put water and food in there.  I read it is best to move the hen during the evening.  It keeps her from wanting to get up since it is time for bedding down.

She hatched out six healthy, adorable chicks on December 28th, 2015.   I put a heat lamp inside the cage and closed the cage with a tarp on three sides.  With had a couple cold nights but I knew the mom would keep those chicks warm but still…..  Ha ha.

After the chicks were two weeks old, I let them out to wander around in the 25×25 ft yard.  I have netting over the top to keep those pesky chicken hawks out.  I had to put some small holed fencing around the edge of the fence (3 ft tall) on the inside to keep the babies from going through the 2×4 inch fencing.

Now, I have another hen sitting on seven Barred Rock eggs and they are due to hatch February 9th.

I had to put the second broody hen in the 4×8 cage after a week so then I had to figure out how to make a safe place for the babies and mom to sleep during the night.  I made a closed in shelter for them but at night, I lock them up in a small cage inside their shelter.  It took two nights of catching the mom and chicks before mom realized that is where she needed to sleep. I just don’t trust that some smart predator won’t find a way thru the netting and fencing and eat my babies for a late night snack.

So right now, the mom and her six chicks are in the same yard with the second mom but she is enclosed in the 4×8 cage.  Her chicks will be ready to come out into the yard by the 23rd so the first chicks hatched will be almost 8 weeks.  I will have the first mom taken away from her chicks by then and have another divider fence up so the two sets of chicks can share the same protected area.  I have learned from experience not to let two hens around baby chicks.  I had two moms fighting over the chicks and two of the chicks were killed.

I don’t know yet what I will do with the roosters.  It seems pretty hard to sell the roosters.  We have thought about eating the roosters but we only like white meat and it is a lot of trouble for half a chicken.  There is an advertisement that says they will take any free farm animals and I am pretty sure they eat them.  I have to get rid of the roosters before I get attached to them and name them.

I really hate to have the roosters in with my hens unless I want them to fertilize the eggs.  Some hens make so much noise when the rooster is trying to mate with them and I just feel such sympathy for them.  It is like being raped.  So, now I have the roosters separated from then hens which makes for more fencing, more housing and feed for animals that are not giving anything back.  What to do?  Ha ha

I have to be careful with the chicks hatching because that’s how I ended up with 120 chickens a few years ago.  I was selling chickens and eggs back then.  I am more interested in keeping it small and just trying to have eggs for us to be more self-sufficient and eating healthier food.

Hatching Time and Keeping the Chicks Safe

I have neglected this blog for quite awhile but with my husband retiring and having him around 24/7, I have definitely made some adjustments to my life.  That is a good thing.  My husband calls it true freedom when you retire.  He also says he use to watch the clock to get up, go to bed, get to work, get off work but now he watches the calender to see when our checks roll in.

It is so hot here now and the hens are all wanting to sit on the eggs though some of them don’t even have a rooster with them so the eggs are not fertilized.  I was having a problem with so many of them being broody that the hens couldn’t get into the nests to lay the eggs. I was finding eggs on the ground.

I did what I read to do.  I took the broody hens out of the yard and put them into another yard where there were no nests to sit on.  There is shelter and food and water but no nesting boxes.  They pace the fence line but in a few days, they seem to cool off.  It is amazing how hot the hens body feels when she is broody.  I realize it has to be hot to get the temperature right for the chick to grow in the egg.  But, every time I pick up a broody hen, it still amazes me.

I did let a Barred Rock sit on some Silkie eggs since the Barred Rock eggs were not fertile.  Only one hatched out and I let her stay with the chick until she started laying eggs again, which was five weeks.  She was eager to get out of the smaller yard back into the grassy area.

I don’t think I will let the BR hens hatch out my Silkie eggs anymore because I ended up separating mom and baby.  If a Silkie would have hatched the chick out, being a Silkie chick, at least they would have remained in the same yard together.  I felt bad separating them but the momma definitely wanted out of the smaller yard.

I decided the chick was too small to put into the yard with the other Silkies…..fearing they might pick on her/him.  I have a Silkie hen sitting on eggs in another area so I put her in there.  Silkies are such good mommas and the baby chick ran right over and tried to get under the hen for protection from me.  The hen just looked at her and ignored her basically.  But, I have a feeling that she will accept her as her own…..it has happened before…and they will be fine.

One time, I had two Silkie moms and their babies in one yard  and in a 24 hour period, three of the babies died.  I think the mommas killed them perhaps while fighting over them.  I guess I will never know but I NEVER put two mommas and their babies together now.

Also, I had a hen in a 4×4 area with her babies and she dug and actually buried one of her babies.  So if I need to use the 4×4 yard, I put a board down with lots of hay on it so the hen cannot dig/scratch.  The baby was so small and I think she just kicked a lot of dirt on her and she couldn’t get up and move.  She was the youngest of the chicks and the others were 3 or 4 days older and they moved a lot faster.

And then you must always keep the correct type of waterer in the baby chicks yard, too.  Do not put any water in their yard that they can drown in either.  That has also happened to me.  I had the small waterer for the baby and a container for the mom.  It never dawned on me that the baby could even get into the water.

When the chicks are very young, they just want to stay close to momma but as they get a little older they will start wandering away.  I lost another chick when one went thru the fencing and the momma couldn’t get to her.  I don’t know if the chicken hawk got it or the annoying cats that frequent my yard.

Now, I add  a very small gauge fencing around the bottom two feet of the baby chicks yard.  So there is double fencing on the bottom two feet.  You need to bring it lower than the ground.  Let it lie on the ground an inch or two.  When the hen starts scratching and digging, she often moves some of the dirt and then you end up with a place the chick can slip out.

Also, don’t forget to mark your eggs with an X (the ones you want to hatch)  if you have your broody hens with your other hens so you know which eggs to remove from under the broody hen.

I let the hen sit in the regular nest with the other hens for a week or ten days before I move her into my “maternity yard”.    If you use an incubator, you know the last few days you don’t want to turn the eggs.  So, I want to move the momma and eggs before it gets to those last days when the eggs should not be disturbed.  Try not to make the momma too mad and upset her as you gently pick her up.  I usually have my husband with me and he either carries the momma or the eggs as we try to be just as careful with the momma as with the eggs.  When we put the momma into the prepared yard that has water and food, sometimes she doesn’t settle down on the eggs immediately.  But she will.  I think she likes to check out her new accommodations.

My grand daughter is coming to visit without her parents and I am hoping more of the eggs will hatch so Maddy can enjoy the babies.  After all, who doesn’t love babies?  Even if they are chickens.

 

 

 

 

 

Guinea chicks (keats) hatching

My little buff hen has patiently sat on the Guinea eggs for close to 30 days and four keats hatched out yesterday.  They all looked fine when I brought them inside and put them under the heat lamp though two were rather sluggish.  I assumed they were just hatched out and were tired and sleepy like the baby chickens I am use to raising.

I went back an hour or so to check the temperature and they were fine but after four hours or so, two were dead.  I was so sad.  Their perfectly formed bodies just lying there limp.  It was a mystery to me why they died.

Now, when I brought them in and put them on the towel in the bottom of the box, I did notice maybe five or six ants had been on them.  I am wondering if they could have bitten them enough to put poison in their systems.  I know when ants bite me, a get a nasty pimple with white pus.  If I get too many bites at one time, I actually feel sick and run a low grade fever.   My body is a whole lot larger than a chick’s so I can only imagine how bad a baby chick could feel with multiple bites.

As soon as it is daylight, I am going out there to check on the eggs and bring the keats inside if any are hatched.  Maybe I can get them before the ants start moving around.  With chicken feeders filled with food, it is difficult to keep the ants away from the chicken yards.  You would think the chickens would eat the ants.  I guess when the egg hatches and there is material left in the egg shell, it attracts the ants to the nest where the momma hen is sitting on the chicks.  With four hatching at one time, it could be difficult for the momma to dispose of the egg shells.  Sometimes, part of the egg shell is eaten or missing before I realize a chick is hatched out.

Well, I am thinking about getting outside and working on getting my chicken houses ready for cold weather but that is another post so I will end this one now and start that one.