Raise Chickens

One of our black bards. They are very curious and not afraid to come right up and peck my boots.One of our black bards. They are very curious and not afraid to come right up and peck my boots.

Ever since I saw the movie The Egg And I years ago, I have wanted to raise chickens. Finally, we live on a farm so my dream has come true. On April 30, 2020, we went to a small feed store close to Rossville to pick up everything we would need to set up for baby chicks. We had called the store earlier in the week and we were told that they would receive a shipment of chicks on May 1. Yay!

When we entered the store, we heard lots of faint peeps. The clerk told us the chicks were just received that day, one day early and if we waited, they would be gone. They had Americaunas, also knows as Easter Eggers because they lay blue eggs, Rhode Island Reds, and Bard Rock chicks. David said we would take eight of each. Then the lady said they also had some guinea chicks. He said we would take two of those. We got a water jug, a feed dish, some feed, a warming light and bulb, and some cedar shavings. They handed me a box of peeping birds. We paid and headed for home, totally unprepared.

Our 26 fuzzy chicks are one day and just got home from the feed store. Aren't they adorable?Our 26 fuzzy chicks are one day old and just got home from the feed store. Aren't they adorable?

I had been reading chick books for weeks, getting ready to raise chicks and I did not even have a place to put these pretty little balls of fluff. We got home and found a not-big-enough cardboard box. I lined the box with cedar, got the water and food ready and put the warming lamp together. Then, one by one, I placed each sweet chick into the box. They were just adorable. We had zero yellow chicks and one white one-one of the guineas. The other guinea has stripes on top of his head that go down her back.

All 26 of them ran from me every time I came near the box. I was in the shed where we kept the box all throughout the day. I had read that we would lose several chicks by the time it was all over. I am happy to report that today is June 3, 2020 and the chicks are five weeks old today, all 26 of them!

The chicks' first brooder was a cardboard box with a warming lamp with a red bulb kept at 95° F.The chicks' first brooder was a cardboard box with a warming lamp with a red bulb kept at 95° F.

Raise Chickens - The First Four Weeks

The cuddly little chicks make a ton of noise, but it was happy noise. The fuzz goes away way too quickly.The first week to raise chickens for me. You can see the wood shavings, the feeder, and the water jug.

When you raise chickens, you find out that they are not very clean. In fact, they poop in their food and water dishes all day long. They also somehow put the cedar shavings into their food and water dishes so that they cannot eat or drink. So all day long, you have to empty them, wash them, and give them new food and water. Then they do it again.

They are drinking city tap water at first and eating chick crumble. They will eat this for the first six months.

The first week to raise chickens for me. You can see the wood shavings, the feeder, and the water jug.The first week to raise chickens for me. You can see the wood shavings, the feeder, and the water jug.

Another thing you have to worry about is keeping the chicks warm enough. When chicks first come out of the egg, they have to be kept at 95° Fahrenheit. As the sun goes down in Texas, it gets chilly for them and the chicks huddle up because they are so cold. I had to continually monitor their temperature for the first two weeks, keeping them at 95° for the first week and at 90° for the second week. The third and fourth weeks, we tried to keep them between 80° and 85°.

A closeup. You can see some of them are getting feathers in already!A closeup. You can see some of them are getting feathers in already!

By the end of the first week, the cardboard box was falling apart from being wet. I went to Tractor Supply and found a six foot oval stock tank for $179.00. I bought it and brought it home. I lined it with wood shavings and transferred all of the chicks, one by one. They were squawking so loudly, you would have thought I was torturing them by lifting them out of the cardboard. Then they would get happy when I put them in the stock tank. They had a lot of room!

By the end of the second week, the chicks were flying and they had to have wire placed over the tank to prevent them from flying out. Every time I would lift the wire to feed or water them, the chicks would try to escape.

By the end of the fourth week, I decided they were sturdy enough with most of their feathers and some really hot Texas hot to be put out in our chicken coop that we had made. It is large enough to walk in with 20 nesting boxes and lots of fun roosting ladders for the chicks.

The chicks are eating in the stock tank brooder.The chicks are eating in the stock tank brooder.

We got the 26 chickens into the inner part of the chicken coop last Thursday morning. I lined all of the nesting boxes with shaved wood and put a small amount on the floor of the inner coop. They absolutely loved getting out of the brooder and out into a large space. Now they can fly as well.

Tomorrow will be such a fun day to release them into the chicken run of the coop. They will love it. I am so glad I get to raise chickens.

The books I have read and the videos about chickens that I have watched on YouTube claim that if you leave the chicks in the inner part of the coop where the nesting boxes are for one week, then they will walk back in on their own each evening when the sun sets. I hope it is true. I guess I will find out tomorrow evening.

Here are a few of the chicks, including the white guinea, in the coop. You can see their foot tracks all over the sand. Their feet have gotten huge.Here are a few of the chicks, including the white guinea, in the coop. You can see their foot tracks all over the sand. Their feet have gotten huge.

We won't get any eggs until some time in October according to the books. The books say they can start laying small eggs sometime in the fifth month but not to expect any eggs until the sixth month. They lay the most eggs of their lifetime in the first two years which is why a lot of people who raise chickens add some chicks to their flock each years so there is always a steady supply of fresh eggs. The older ones will continue to lay eggs but not as many as during the first two years.

The chicken coop is in the center of the photo.The chicken coop is in the center of the photo before we got the rabbit hutch.

Back in early July, we got a large evaporative cooler for our chickens as this is Texas and the temperature hits 100° F. or more a lot. The chickens love the cool air blowing in their coop. It feels pretty good.

David got an evaporative cooler for the chicks. We fill it with well water and put the fan speed fairly low. It moves the air in the coop with cool air.David got an evaporative cooler for the chicks. We fill it with well water and put the fan speed fairly low. It moves the air in the coop with cool air. The electric box is shown in photo.
Our chickens love their A/C unit. It keeps them cool during these hot Texas days.Our chickens love their A/C unit. It keeps them cool during these hot Texas days.

Yes, our chickens are spoiled rotten, but they are just so cute! I find I worry less about them during the day when I am working now that they have air conditioning. Honestly, if you have not experienced a south Texas summer, you may not understand, but it is HOT down here!

Chickens At 14 Weeks

When it hits 100° F., we give them some cool treats like fresh cold or ice water and some sliced fruits or veggies. They love it.When it hits 100° F., we give them some cool treats like fresh cold or ice water and some sliced fruits or veggies. They love it.
Here the chickens enjoy some sliced cucumbers and other veggies.Here the chickens enjoy some sliced cucumbers and other veggies.

The chickens now peck at my boots every morning as I stand there watching them come out and eat. I have wanted to raise chickens for many years so I try to have a bit of time with them each morning. They are fun to watch. The two guineas rule the roost, especially the large one with stripes and polka-dots. I think he might be a boy. He is far bigger than the white guinea and more aggressive. Also, I think one of the Rhode Island Reds is a boy. He stands taller and has a full comb. The chicks were supposed to have been sexed, but not the guineas. Either way, I believe we have two men chicks among us.

Return from Raise Chickens to Our Small Farm


David of David's Garden Seeds® zipping along on his little tractor across the farm. He is having a blast!David of David's Garden Seeds® zipping along on his little tractor across the farm. He is having a blast!

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Mrs. David's Garden Seeds in the greenhouse with Lucy the lap dog.Mrs. David's Garden Seeds in the greenhouse with Lucy the lap dog.