The time came in April of 2007. My husband of five months surprised me one day by saying "Go to the feed store and pick your chickens out. I've already paid for 12 of them, plus all the supplies to get started." I was surprised, my jaw dropped and I thought "Where we going to put them?" We lived in a one-room apartment in an unusually small town (population 21). Thankfully my in-laws had a farm and once the chicks had grown their feathers, they went to the farm.
Off to the feed store after work I went to pick out my new babies. They were all so cute! I was excited and nervous. I didn't know a thing about baby chicks. Raeanne, the store owner, quickly gave me the rundown on types of food, how to feed and water and how to keep them warm.
Lessons from Raeanne included:
- The feeder shown above allows the chicks to feed without soiling all the food, limiting waste.
- There is a starter food for chicks that is needed before they grow into adults.
- Fresh water is needed daily. A container with a red bottom waterer was given to me. I guess chickens can see color.
- A heat lamp is needed until the birds grow all their feathers.
- Chickens will drink out of blue containers too.
- They like to huddle together at night; sometimes.
- They are pretty content living anywhere: plastic containers, greenhouses, dog houses, metal barrels, etc.
- Some of them like to be held, others don't.
- They can be trained to come when called.
- They have various personality traits: talkative, curious, friendly, stand-offish and feisty.
- Skunks eat chickens, all parts except legs and pelvic bones.
- We have a Federal Trapper in our area who catches skunks.
What lessons have you learned with your first batch of chickens?