Basic Tips & Tricks for Raising your Chickens

Arriving Home with Your Chicks

Place the chicks in your prepared brooder with a heat lamp and about 2 inches of pine shavings. Chicks are started on organic non-medicated chick starter and are drinking water prior to leaving.

Day old chicks require a temperature of about 90-95 degrees. Reduce the temperature 5-7 degree per week until you reach 65-70 degrees. A thermometer is helpful. However, it is important to watch your chicks. If they all crowd tightly under their heat source, they are probably too cold. If they avoid the heat source, stay to the sides of the brooding area or pant, they are too warm. The brooder should be placed indoors or in a heated barn or garage. However, I strongly encourage you to keep the chicks indoors where they are under your watchful eye. At this age, anything could happen and they are extremely vulnerable to predators.

For more information, check out our Chicken Care 101 classes.

Quarantine Period

Your chicks have been vaccinated for the Marek’s virus. It is important that your chicks remain in isolation, away from any older chickens for a quarantine period of 14 days. Since they have been vaccinated with the virus, they are at a higher risk of airborne illness from older birds. Please be sure to wash your hands between caring for chicks and older chickens and a change of clothes between flocks during the quarantine period is prudent.

Things to Watch for in the Brooder

Condition of Litter

Fresh shavings should be added daily and brooder should be cleaned out at least once per week. If a strong odor of ammonia is present, bedding should be changed.

Chick Behavior

Are they too hot or cold? Are they cheeping excessively? Are they alert?


Water

Besides heat, the next most important thing for your chicks is water. A small water container specific for small chicks is crucial. If a water source is too large, chicks can fall in and drown. Make sure water is fresh and clean at all times. Chicks 1 day to 1 week should be given a fresh supply of vitamin and Electrolytes daily. Water should be room temperature, not cold. In addition to Electrolyte water, offer clear water with Apple Cider Vinegar.

Learn more about the basics of raising healthy backyard chickens from Cedar Crest Farm and Feed in Kirtland Hills, Ohio.

Add a few drops of Apple Cider Vinegar every few days to my chicks’ water right from the start. The ACV helps them build a strong immune system and aids with digestive health. Raw, organic ACV (Bragg) is all I use.

If pasting appears around vent, CAREFULLY remove paste build up with a warm, wet cloth, making sure that vent is wiped clean. After 1 week, offer Vitamin and Electrolytes one day per week until age 7 weeks and discontinue. (Electrolyte water should be offered during extremely hot weather in addition to plain water) Once pullets are moved to coop, feeders and water buckets should be hung as to keep scratch and droppings from polluting food and water.

Feed

Chicks are started on an organic chick starter food. If you chose to use a medicated feed, then chicks should be fed this medicated feed until 7 weeks of age. After 7 weeks, they can be put on an un-medicated grower feed until 16 weeks.  

Learn more about the basics of raising healthy backyard chickens from Cedar Crest Farm and Feed in Kirtland Hills, Ohio.

In Lieu of medicated feed, I prefer to go the organic route and use herbs as my source of “medication.” Please see a list of herbs and their uses below.

At 17 weeks, pullets should be placed on a diet of cracked corn and layer mash. DO NOT feed your chicks any treats (mealworms, nuts, etc.) until at least 3 weeks of age. This is just junk food for chickens at this age.  Once they have surpassed the 6 week mark, it is perfectly fine to shake a bag of marshmallows or mealworms to train them to come to their coop at night, or to just get them to come to their Mama hen (you) but only in very small amounts.

Chicks around 4 weeks are old enough to be offered chopped spinach, arugula, pomegranate seeds (not the peel) mashed potatoes, cantaloupe on the rind, and their very favorite: watermelon on the rind. Be careful with table scraps, as chickens that are fat, tend to lay very large eggs; which could cause a chicken to become “egg bound.” This can be very painful and cause a hen to die.

Non-GMO Layer Feed

Cedar Crest Farm and Feed has developed a highly nutritious, nutrient rich layer feed. Included with your chicks is a feed sample and coupon for $10.00 off a 50 lb. bag of feed. We mill our feed fresh every week. We believe that our feed is one of the best you will find in the market.

Please, do not ever feel we are pushing our goods onto our customers. We developed our feed out of frustration with the lack of Non-GMO feed on the market and just happened to create something wonderful. If your chickens love the feed as much as ours, then you will know where to find us!

Find out more about our feed.

When storing feed, always use an airtight container with a snug fitting lid. Food that is contaminated by rodents will cause serious illness or death to your flock. Take the extra step to purchase a metal can with lid- it will last for years and is absolutely rodent proof.

Herbs

Baby Chicks are given tea from day one. Steeped herbs will assist with boosting the immune system and offer a vast array of benefits.

Oregano

Poultry studies have proven that the use of oregano will assist in combating coccidian, E. coil and Salmonella. Oregano tea is simple and chicks take to it right away. Finely chop fresh oregano and steep in hot water for 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and offer. A small pot can be brewed and used for several days. Do not worry about removing the herbs, they will be soft enough and small enough for the chicks to eat.

The following herbs can be used in the brooder, finely chopped or added to water to make a tea:

  • Bay Leaves
  • Basil
  • Chervil
  • Cinnamon
  • Clover
  • Coriander
  • Echinacea
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • Lavender
  • Marigold
  • Nettles
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Pineapple Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Spearmint
  • Thyme
  • Violets
  • Yarrow

Chopping these fresh and offering them in your brooder will result in stronger, healthier chicks.
Preventing B2 Deficiency: Chicks that are deficient in Vitamin B2 can develop neurological issues; which can lead to paralysis, anemia and death. Be sure that your chicks have adequate amounts of riboflavin in their diet. Good Sources include brewer’s yeast, wheat bran, sesame seeds, seaweed, spearmint, parsley and coriander.

Learn more about the basics of raising healthy backyard chickens from Cedar Crest Farm and Feed in Kirtland Hills, Ohio.

Giving your chicks a natural, organic start puts them on the path to a long, productive life. Adding Apple Cider Vinegar, garlic, probiotics and various herbs to their diet early in life will give them a great jump start to becoming vibrant chickens!

Great Chicken Resources

Finding a New Home for Your Flock

If for any reason you find that you are unable to keep your flock, please contact me so that we can assist in re-homing if possible. The chickens I sell are not for consumption, they are bred for the sole purpose of being egg layers. They would not be a tasty meal.

If ever I can answer a question or there is a concern, I am just a phone call or e-mail away!

(216) 258-6676 or

For more information, check out our Retired Hen & Rooster Care.