Oct 042012
 

Chicken Hatchery – What Is A Chicken Hatchery?

The word “Chicken Hatchery” is bandied around a lot but I have found that not everyone knows what that is.  A chicken hatchery is a company that hatches chicks in incubators in large numbers to sell to the public.  

Chicken hatcheries are big business in the United States and they hatch millions of chicks.  The hatch and ship millions of baby chicks to chicken batteries and backyard chicken enthusiasts every single year.  There are a lot of horror stories related to the chick producing business but it is still by far the most popular place to purchase chicks online.

Why would you consider buying baby chicks from a chicken hatchery?  Well, there are several reasons to consider.

  • 1. There is a large number of chicken breeds to pick from.
  • 2. Day old babies will be vaccinated for common chicken diseases.
  • 3. Large numbers of chickens can be bought.
  • 4. There is a a discount if you buy larger quantities.
  • 5. They can be very accurately sexed so you get mostly hens which is a huge advantage when buying from a hatchery.

But, there are several other things to consider as well before you buy chicks from a chicken hatchery.

  • 1. The hatchery will ship directly to you so you need to home when they arrive.  If the post office cannot locate you or there is a dely in picking them up, they may die.
  • 2. Ideal weather is a must because if it is either too hot or too cold, they will die.
  • 3. Many people find the process used to hatch the chicks to be distasteful.  There is also the matter of most of the male hatchlings being “disposed of” as they have almost no market value.

There is no doubt that buying from a chicken hatchery is the most popular way to buy chickens for your flock these days. But, what do you do if you don’t want to buy from a hatchery?  What other options do you have?

One of the best ways to find young chickens in your area is to check out Craigs List.  I have found that I can find a variety of chicken breeds this way.  You can also check out towns or cities that are within driving range to find more selection.  One of the biggest problems you may have with buying chicks this way is that there is no way to know for sure that you are getting pure bred chicks.  If this is important to you, then this is not the way to buy your chicks.

You can also check out local feed and tack stores in the spring.  Many times they have several different types of babies for sale.  You can also check online forums and see if anyone in your area is offering any for sale.

Remember, you don’t have to buy your chicks from a chicken hatchery.  It may take a little more time and effort to find them locally, but you may find it more rewarding.

Find out what it takes to keep your chickens alive. Click the link below and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page.  Get your FREE report on the 7 deadly mistakes when keeping chickens at home.

 

Learn How To Introduce Chicks To Your Chicken Flock

Jul 132012
 

Introducing New Chickens To The Existing Flock

When I got my first batch of chicks, I never thought that I would be adding new chicks to the existing flock so quickly.  My first attempt at raising chicks was a disaster to say the least.

I ended up having to get more baby chicks and they were a couple of months younger than my original chicks.  Silly me . . . it never occurred to me that there might be a problem trying to get both sets of chickens to get along.

Boy was I wrong!  Much to my dismay, the older chickens immediately starting picking on the younger chickens.  They chased them around mercilessly, pecked them whenever they got the chance and just generally made them miserable.  After running around frantically trying to capture the younger chicks, I realized that I had to figure out how to get everyone to get along . . . fast!

Separate The New Chickens

After I separated the baby chicks from the older chicks, I had to figure out how to integrate them peacefully.    The first thing I did was hop online and do some research.  Luckily for my chickens, it was relatively easy to get them all to get along.

The first step was to keep them separated by a fence so that both sets of chicks could see each other and interact without actually being able to cause any harm.  Over the course of a couple of weeks, they all settled in and got used to being next to one another.

As they got more comfortable with each other, I then allowed them to start mingling for a couple of hours during the day for about a week.   Since I was worried about them fighting like last time, I monitored them very carefully.  But other than a peck or two from the more dominant pullets, this time the introduction went much more smoothly.  Before long, everyone was happily scratching around with no issues.

Distract Your Hens

Backyard chickens have very short attention spans and it is typically pretty easy to divert their attention with treats.  I used several methods to keep them distracted including hanging a head of cabbage, broccoli and some large pieces of melon strategically around the chicken run and the yard.  Soon, they were all busy trying to grab their treats and didn’t pay any attention to anything else.  All of this activity also wore them out so they were just too tired to start trouble.  It was actually quite fun to watch them!

I have horses and the chickens in my backyard love to dig through the manure.  Sounds disgusting, I know, but they were in heaven.  My flower beds were pretty much done for the year so I piled manure in the beds and the chickens happily scratched it up and churned up my beds for me.  It kept them occupied and they actually helped me out!

Surprise – You Have Chicks!

Over the years, I have added new chickens to the existing flock without much trouble at all.  One trick that I love is to get several of my hens sitting on wooden chicken nesting eggs and then when the new chicks arrive, stick them under the hens in the middle of the night.  Believe it or not, this trick works very well.  The hens think their eggs have hatched and the chicks are just naturally accepted.  The hens typically keep the chicks away from the other birds at first anyway but the existing flock doesn’t try to bother them as long as they are with mom.

If I don’t have any broody hens, I keep the chicks in a brooder at night inside for warmth and safety.  Then, during the warmer days, I put up a temporary chicken run to serve as a baby pen and allow the chicks outside for a couple of hours during the day.  The older chickens can see them and hear them but can’t harm them.  That way, when the chicks are old enough to join the older chickens, they are used to them being around.

Conclusion

Any time you add new chicks or older chickens to an existing flock, there will be some minor skirmishes, but they usually manage to work it out.  Keep in mind that the new birds will have to figure out the pecking order and some squabbles are normal.

Keeping chickens in your backyard is an adventure.  Your flock is unique  so you need to keep in mind that you may need to get creative and modify these suggestions to keep your flock happy.

Jun 272010
 

I was so excited.  One of my bard rock hens went broody and started collecting a clutch of eggs to sit on.  Everything was going great.  I made sure that she ate and drank every day and she was being a good broody hen. 

On Friday night I candled all 8 eggs and all of them had little baby chicks floating around inside the eggs.  It was so great!  I locked her up tight in her separate little hen house and went to bed happy.

I got up the next morning and walked out to let the hens and roosters out and to check on my broody hen.  To my horror, I found her dead outside her little chicken coop.  Somehow something had managed to pull a board lose and then finished getting in my chewing a hole in the wood chicken coop.  The hole was just large enough for whatever killed her to drag her out of the hen house.  Whatever had killed her hadn’t been able to drag her body off though.

I checked the eggs and they were still there but they were cold.  The eggs were 13 days old by this time and I was sick that they would probably die.  By biggest problem was that I only had a 3 egg incubator so I jumped in my car and drove to Tractor Supply to get a larger incubator.  Luckily they had one in stock so I bought it and got home as fast as I could.

I put all 8 eggs in the incubator right away even though it said to let the temperature stabilize for several hours.  I figured at this point, what could it hurt.  So I sat there literally for almost four hours until I was sure the temperature in the incubator had stabilized.

I figured that I had done all I could do for the moment.  I waited twenty four hours and I candled the eggs again to see if I had any chicks left alive.  At that point I noticed that one of the eggs was actually chipped.  I didn’t hold out much hope for any of them still being alive but to my amazement, they were all still alive!

Now the wait was on to see if all of the baby chicks survived and hatched out ok.


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Jun 012010
 

Before considering raising day old chicks, you will need to think about chicken brooders to ensure the survival of your babies.  Chicken brooders don’t have to be complex or expensive to build.

The primary use of chicken brooders is to ensure your young chicks maintain their body temperature and to keep them safe.  Separating them from the main flock allows your baby chicks to socialize with animals the same size and age and they will be able to eat and drink without being stressed by bigger chickens or other animals.

Chicken Brooder Tips:

  • Plastic or Cardboard? 
  • Location, Location!
  • Keep Me Warm!
  • I’m hungry – Feed me!
  • I’ve Fallen And I’m Dirty

Plastic or Cardboard?  Chicken brooders can be purchased or simply constructed from something you have inside your shed. Keeping in mind that you just need something with walls that are high enough to prevent your chicks from hopping out and to protect them from drafts.  Two of the simplest chicken brooders that you’re going to ever get are simple plastic tubs and cardboard boxes.

Location, Location!  As soon as you have decided which sort of container you are planning to use, make a decision about where to place your chicken brooder.  Keep in mind that you are going to need to use an electrical outlet so plan take that into consideration. 

Keep Me Warm!  You have to buy a light with a 250 watt bulb to help keep all of your chicks warm.  It is required to be placed {directly over the top of the chicken brooder.  Getting the correct temperature in the box will require you to acquire a consistent thermometer and fiddle the heat source.  It may have to be raised or lowered based on the temperature.  Your chicks will not thrive if you cannot ensure that the temperature in the brooder is not too hot or too cold so keep a close eye on the temperature inside the container.  Always be sure that there is at least one area of the brooder which is away from heat source on the off chance that your baby chicks become too warm.  For that first week, the temperature inside the brooder is required to be set at roughly 99 degrees F after which it needs to be lowered once the chicks age.

I’m hungry – Feed me!  Your new baby chicks will need constant access to food and water.  A feeder and water container will be needed that is the appropriate size for newly hatched chicks.  You’ll need to purchase special chick feed as it is smaller in size so that they can more easily consume it.  They won’t be able to handle the larger chicken size pellets.

I’ve Fallen And I’m Dirty!   It is important to keep your chicks clean and their living environment clean.  Dirty chicks are likely to become ill and die. I always use wood shavings in the bottom of my chicken brooders because they are economical to use and they are incredibly absorbent.  They are also simple to scoop out and replace as needed.

Raising baby chicks is usually a enjoyable project for the entire family and if they are handled a great deal while young, your chickens will socialize with you when they are full grown.  To get more detailed information on how to raise baby chicks, click here.  

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