The days are getting shorter, the girls are finishing up their molts, and you are getting less eggs as winter approaches. You might be wondering, “is this normal?” The answer is, yes, it’s perfectly normal.
Chickens need about 16 hours of light per day to produce eggs, with the exception of some over-eager first year hens who may lay throughout winter. But with the shortened daylight hours, and the cold weather requiring more of their energy resources be directed to keeping their body temperatures where the need to be, egg production will go down.
Just because your ladies have slowed down on their egg production, or even stopped, however, doesn’t mean they need less nutrition. Continuing to feed a quality, nutritious, energy-providing diet, just like you would through the warmer months, will help your girls continue some egg production and provide them the energy reserves they require to stay warm and fit. It will also help them show up next spring in prime condition to start laying regularly again.
You may hear some chicken owners say they feed a cheap layer feed, or even nothing but scratch in winter, because it is cheaper and “they aren’t laying anyway”. If you pay attention, these are often the same folks that lose birds in the winter, or their birds look pretty rough come spring time. Scratch grains should never make up more than 10% of any birds diet – or what they can clean up in about 5 minutes.
Don’t forget to provide grit throughout the winter as well, as they may not be able to find it on their own due to snow and mud.
As summer’s heat transitions to fall’s balmy days and cool nights it’s time to think a few months ahead. January is on the way, and for much of the northern hemisphere that means blustery cold wind, ice, snow, and long dark nights.
Winter is a challenging time for both people and chickens. Humans prepare by bringing coats, long johns, mittens and hats out of storage, checking the furnace, and closing the home’s holes and gaps with weather-stripping and caulking. These tasks are important to do! And, remember the chickens, too.
Chickens evolved in the sultry jungles of Southeast Asia. It is amazing that these tropical animals survive icy winter cold and continue laying eggs as snow drifts pile up outside. Many common chicken breeds sport layers of fluffy down under their outer feathers. They keep hens toasty warm, and with proper care, chickens are likely more comfortable during winter than when the temperature and humidity zoom upward in July.
Anyone keeping chickens in an icy area should prioritize sticking with hearty breeds well suited to surviving cold. In general, large brown egg laying, fluffy feathered breeds, like Orpingtons, Brahmas, New Englanders (Rhode Island and New Hampshire Reds and Plymouth Rocks), Wyandottes and several others thrive in cold. Smaller white egg layers often have a large comb and sparse feathers and are less suited to life where winter’s chill takes the breath away.
In summer a chicken’s comb acts like a radiator, giving off body heat and helping keep the hen cool. That’s helpful in July but is a January liability. Combs frostbite. The most winter hearty breeds have a small pea or rose comb that’s less likely to freeze than tall single combs.
Even the most winter hearty breeds need protection from winter’s chill. Pleasant fall days are the perfect time to prepare the coop and chickens for the coming chill. Here are several fall projects to keep the flock health through winter.
Few items are as handy during winter as electricity. Electrically heated founts keep water liquid and eliminate the tedious chore of replacing frozen water buckets with fresh water. Electricity also enables plugging a light into a timer so the birds have the 15 hours of daily light that stimulate laying. Set the timer so lights come on a few hours before the sun peeks over the horizon. Finally, having switch operated lights in the coop makes checking birds after dark easier than using a flashlight.
It may be convenient to stretch an extension cord from the house to the coop, but it’s not a good idea. Extension cords aren’t made for continual use and most aren’t built to withstand severe weather. Hiring an electrical company to run power to the coop may be the best investment a chicken owner ever makes, and it might not be too expensive.
Cords will be safe, and fall is a great time to get this task done.
On sultry evenings chickens love sleeping as cool breezes flow over them. Windows on opposite sides of the coop help create cross ventilation. In winter summer’s breeze transforms into a draft wafting through the coop, threatening to frostbite vulnerable combs. To reduce drafts and let more light through soiled windows clean the glass and close windows as the temperature drops.
Nearly all coops have plenty of cracks between boards, at the edges of windows and doors, and where the roof joins the walls. An inexpensive caulking gun filled with a tube of silicone caulk quickly plugs cracks and holes. Caulking doesn’t usually work on wide cracks but expanding foam does. Caulking supplies are available in every hardware and home store. The chemicals work best when the temperature is above freezing.
Keeping Water Liquid
Chickens can’t drink ice. The biggest challenge flock owners have on arctic days is keeping water liquid. If the coop has electricity investing in a heated waterer solves the problem, but many coops lack power. The time-tested way to let the chickens enjoy a drink is to bring a fresh bucket of warm water to the coop and remove the frozen one every few hours. It works, but it is a labor-intensive chore. These days most people are at work or school and can’t make frequent water switches.
Insulation works. Chicken body heat will keep a well-insulated coop a few degrees warmer than outside temperatures, helping keep chickens comfortable and slowing the water freezing process. Insulating the coop also keeps it cooler in summer. Fall is a great season to insulate a coop’s walls and ceiling.
Insulation also works with water containers. Some insulated waterers are made for chickens, but a re-purposed bait bucket may be less expensive and works just as well. These are plastic buckets lined with Styrofoam and sold to anglers who want to keep their minnow water from freezing while they ice fish. Cut a small hole in the lid so the chickens can access water, fill the bucket with lukewarm water, and it will resist freezing for several hours longer than an un-insulated bucket. Insulated bait buckets can be purchased at stores that sell fishing gear.
Mice are one of nature’s craftiest animals. They sense that winter’s coming and seek comfortable warm places to overwinter. Spilled feed becomes nutritious mouse meals. Caulking holes and cracks helps exclude rodents, and fall is the perfect time to set up a trapline in and near the coop.
Commonly available snap traps have been successfully catching mice for over a century and work perfectly in the technology age. Be sure to set them in places where children and chickens can’t access them. Mice tend to run next to walls, rather than cutting across open rooms. The most effective way to set snap traps is to place two or more together next to a wall with the trigger side close to the wall. A dab of peanut butter on the trigger is irresistible to a hungry rodent. Often there are plenty of mice in a coop, so keep trapping until no more furry feed thieves are caught.
Avoid mouse poison. Mice sometimes eat a poison meal and die in inaccessible places where their decaying bodies stink. There’s also the scary possibility that chickens or children can access poison. A final reason to avoid poison is the threat it poses to one of the greatest friends of chickens. As long as hens are securely locked in a tight coop each night owls will patrol outside. Few animals are as efficient at catching mice and rats as these beautiful predators. Sometimes a mouse will eat poison, stagger outside and be caught by an owl. The poison transfers and the helpful mouser either sickens or dies.
Chickens are tough birds. As long as they are draft protected and have plenty of food and water they’ll thrive even if the mercury drops to zero. Most parts of the United States rarely experience super cold, so heating the coop isn’t needed. But if the mercury falls to 20 or 30 below zero adding warmth could save chickens. Heating the coop to a balmy temperature isn’t needed but taking the edge off a super cold night will be appreciated by the hens. The same heat lamp used to brood chicks last spring will often raise a coop’s interior temperature from 10 or 20 below to a balmy zero.
Be fire safe. Most coops are flammable, so make sure any heat source is positioned away from combustibles.
Fall is a good season to be outdoors but it’s winter’s harbinger. It is the perfect time to winterize the coop so hens will be comfortable and keep laying even as blizzards rage outside.
Anyone who keeps chickens is likely to occasionally have a hen go broody. She’ll make a dramatic mood change, stop laying, fluff her feathers, change her vocabulary, and spend all day and night in the nest. Her life’s goal is motherhood.
We can consider broody hens either a problem or an opportunity. Since they don’t lay while in the mothering mode, a broody is a problem for someone who needs plenty of eggs. Yet, watching her incubating eggs and raising chicks is a fascinating, especially for children, and an easy way to add replacement layers to the flock.
Broody hens perpetuated chickens for most of the thousands of years they’ve been domesticated. Before artificial incubators, they were the only way to hatch eggs.
In those pre-incubator days chicken keepers needed some hens to go broody and raise a new generation. It worked, but was woefully inefficient. At best a broody can hatch and raise only about a dozen babies, making mass production of chickens and eggs impossible. Because of this inefficiency eggs and chicken meat were scarce, expensive and only served on special occasions.
The ancient Egyptians figured out that eggs could be artificially hatched if kept at just the right temperature and humidity for their 21 day development. For hundreds of years in those pre-modern technology days they used incubators to hatch chicks. In the rest of the world broody continued to do the work.
Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit helped launch today’s chicken industry by inventing the mercury thermometer in 1714. Sealed in a glass column the liquid metal expands when warmed and contracts when cooled. A scale on the mercury column enabled a person to accurately measure temperature for the first time in history.
Eggs must be kept precisely between 99 and 102 degrees to hatch, so accurate thermometers and thermostats were essential technologies needed to make an incubator work. It took a while for them to be perfected. The first successful incubator was produced 167 years after Fahrenheit invented the thermometer. That invention changed chicken culture and the American diet forever.
Today’s modern hatcheries use massive incubators to hatch tens of thousands of chicks every week. Fertile eggs are kept at precisely the right temperature and humidity and nearly all hatch. Most chicks coming off incubators end up at either massive egg production or broiler facilities that house thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of birds. Even smaller hatcheries that sell diverse breeds directly to customers hatch them in incubators.
With the coming of incubators broody hens became obsolete and a problem for commercial egg farms. They wanted high egg production, and since a broody stops laying, she’s not adding to the bottom line. Poultry scientists used their understanding of genetics to develop breeds and hybrids that rarely go broody. So huge incubators combined with non-broody hens enabled mass production of chickens and eggs, and broilers for consumers. Today these are the most inexpensive protein for sale at the grocery store.
Broody hens aren’t needed anymore to perpetuate chickens. So, have incubators given them the pink slip? Maybe not.
Scan a hatchery catalog or website and breeds will be described as “broody” or “non broody.” If customers want maximum eggs, they can buy non broody types, but many people keeping just a few hens in the backyard can choose broody breeds to help them enjoy one of the most enjoyable aspects of chicken rearing. Broody hens are as fascinating as they are educational as they hatch, protect, and educate their babies. Broodies are just plain fun.
Hens can become broody at any time of the year and once in awhile one is downright silly and tries to bring babies into a frigid January world, but it’s more likely in spring and summer. Older hens are somewhat more likely to be broody than young pullets and generally classic brown egg laying breeds are more prone to have the mothering instinct than small agile white egg laying breeds. But there are always exceptions. Sometimes a non-broody hybrid, like a California White Leghorn, decides she wants to be a mother and becomes broody. It’s rare but happens and sometimes breeds described as being broody decide they want nothing to do with mothering and refuse to incubate eggs.
Breeds famous for broodiness are Silkies, Orpingtons, and Brahmas. Most of the larger bodied brown egg breeds have a tendency to hatch eggs and raise young. Brown egg laying hybrids, like ISA Browns and many white egg laying breeds and hybrids tend to not go broody, but the important word is “tend.” Exceptions rule.
Preparing for a Broody
Managing a broody is a fascinating experience for anyone raising a small flock in the backyard. Nothing’s quite so endearing as seeing a peeping baby chick poking it’s head out of its mother’s fluffy feathers or watching mom teach her babies how to find food and stay out of trouble. It’s a great process for children to be part of.
To enjoy the brooding experience, choose some chicks of breeds that tend to be broody. Usually a young hen will lay for several months before the mothering instinct kicks in. Be prepared to help her successfully hatch eggs and raise babies by doing these things:
Have a nest box ready and a place where it, with the broody hen inside, is separated from the rest of the flock. A large hen, like a Plymouth Rock should be able to incubate about a dozen fertile eggs.
Put a small feeder and waterer near the nest. The broody won’t eat or drink much but needs a snack and water once in a while.
Have chick starter mash and a chick feeder and waterer ready for when the babies hatch.
If all goes well, eggs will hatch 21 days after mom started incubating. Chicks will soon scamper all over the coop. Continue to keep them separate from other chickens, and let the mother hen care for her babies. She’ll keep them toasty warm, even on cold nights, and give them a better lesson in survival than any human can.
What If I Don’t Have a Rooster?
Infertile eggs won’t hatch but a broody doesn’t know that and will sit on them anyway. Fortunately, she can’t count so doesn’t know how many days elapse. This gives a helping person time to do one of two things:
Get fertile eggs from a friend or neighbor or order them immediately. Many hatcheries sell fertile eggs, which are also available on eBay. While waiting for the fertile eggs to arrive put golf balls under the hen. She won’t know they aren’t eggs! Or, let her sit on infertile eggs until the fertile ones arrive.
Keep the broody on golf balls and in two to three weeks buy chicks at a farm store. Or, as soon as she goes broody place an order at a hatchery for delivery in two to three weeks. When the baby chicks arrive bring them to the broody after dark. Gently remove the golf balls or infertile eggs under her and replace them with live chicks. She’ll immediately adopt them as her own.
Incubators have given broody hens the pink slip for commercial chicken production. They just aren’t needed anymore, but a good old fashioned broody is ready to both raise chicks and give the flock owner a fun and educational experience watching her bring babies into the world and raising her chicks. No pink slip for her.
magazine articles, and Internet blogs often offer tips on how to involve
children in chicken keeping. It is an outstanding way for youngsters to learn
where food really comes from, gain responsibility by caring for animals, and
pique their curiosity about living things. Some kids will be “bitten by the
chicken bug” and find that keeping a flock develops into a lifelong joy
There’s one unfortunate thing about kids. They grow up and leave the nest! Then the years pass and parents’ aging joints begin to creak and muscles start to ache. The common chores of lifting heavy feed bags, scooping manure out of coops, and hauling drinking water to the flock often cause older people to give up their chicken hobby.
are ways to make keeping chickens easy on the back and muscles. These simple
tips could encourage older people to keep enjoying their Australorps, Brahmas,
Rhode Islands or any of many other fascinating breeds as they age.
Lifting heavy weights sometimes pulls muscles and can be tiring. Most bags of feed and bundles of wood chips weigh upwards to 50 pounds. Slinging them around is no problem for a strapping 30-year old but as the years add up, that same size bag seems to grow ever heavier. Some ways to avoid lifting include:
Ask the feed store if an employee will carry bags out and lift them into the trunk. Often, they are happy to help.
After arriving home, slide the bag from the trunk into a wheelbarrow or wagon and roll it to the storage bin, usually a metal garbage can, in or near the coop.
Instead of trying to dump the feed from the bag to the bin, after opening the bag use a scoop to bail the feed in a few pounds at a time. It takes a little longer but is easier and safer than hoisting that heavy bag.
Use a scoop that holds two or three pounds of feed to transfer it from the storage bin to the feeder.
Put Everything Within Easy Reach
the feed storage bin as close to feeders as possible to make transferring feed
simple and easy. Also, keep scratch grain and grit within reach of the coop to
minimize walking. It saves time and energy to make everything needed to care
for chickens convenient.
Enlist Hen Help
Often nests are placed against a side or back coop wall, and sometimes they’re mounted low. Gathering eggs requires entering the coop and bending, often several times a day. It’s far easier to enlist the hen’s help to make egg collection easier. Most people have common tools. With basic carpentry skill a person can make a nest about waist high that protrudes from the coop into an easily accessed space. Nest openings face the coop and allow the birds to easily enter them to deposit their daily gift of a fresh egg. Hinges enable the top of the nest to be opened simplifying collection. The hens eliminate the need to bend over to gather their eggs.
Hinges, Clasps, and Grips
Hardware stores sell inexpensive springs made to close screen doors. It only takes two screws and a few minutes to create an automatic coop door closer. One end of the spring is screwed to the door frame and the other to the door itself. The spring closes the door automatically and holds it closed, making it easy for a person to enter or leave the coop with hands full, while making it hard for hens to escape. It’s helpful to have a clasp hold the door closed to make entry challenging for a hungry nocturnal raccoon. Many clasp designs automatically secure the door once the spring pulls it closed. A simple loop made of heavy duty wire (see photo) enables easy opening of the clasp by a person on the door’s opposite side while eliminating the chance that he or she will get locked inside the coop with the birds.
Lighten the Water Load
gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds and most waterers hold two to five
gallons. Lugging water gets heavy fast,
but there are ways to make the refilling chore easy. Most backyard coops lack a hose tap near
them, so water has to be carried a distance from the house. A plumber can be
hired to run an underground water line to the coop, but that’s expensive. An
easier and less costly way to have a handy water supply is to add a section of
gutter to the coop roof and channel downspout water into a rain barrel. Rain barrels hold and store 30 to 50 gallons
of water of clean precipitation. Even a light shower on a smallish roof fills
common buckets hold 2 ½ gallons of water, and weigh around 20 pounds when full.
Rather than lugging a filled 50-pound five-gallon chicken waterer from the hose
tap or rain barrel to the coop, simply keep a couple of buckets handy. Fill
them from the rain barrel and transfer water to the waterer. It may take two or
three trips, but that’s easier than lugging the filled container.
Create a Visible Pop Hole Door
Anyone who has had a raccoon feast on their prized chickens knows how important it is to close the pop hole door each evening to exclude the furry predators. Door closing is easy to forget, so automatic door closers might make the chore more certain. Some closers operate on timers, while others have a photo sensor and close the door at twilight. Usually they operate on electricity. Having power in the coop to operate the door, lights and water heaters during cold weather is a major labor saver. Some door closers may be powered by batteries but hiring an electrician to run power to a coop is a major labor-saving investment.
Most people manually close the pop hole door in the evening and open it the next morning. Sometimes they forget. While watching an evening television show or reading, a nagging question can enter the mind. “Did I close the door?” There are two ways to find out – walk out and see if it’s closed or check it from a distance with a flashlight. Positioning the pop hole so it can be seen from the house saves steps, and a flashlight with a focused light beam enables checking it from a distance. That saves steps in the darkness.
Making chicken keeping easy saves anyone time and effort and could prevent a lifting or bending injury. Human bodies age, while interest in keeping chickens lingers. Structuring the coop and managing chores to reduce lifting and make chicken care easier, saves time, reduces the chance of an injury, and makes it possible to maintain a flock even by older folks.
chickens simply seem silly. Take egg laying for example. Give a small flock
four or five comfy nest boxes and three or four hens will cram into one at the
same time while nearby nests remain vacant. That’s a problem. Too many hens
laying in a one box is a recipe for broken eggs and a mess. Some hens even
ignore perfect nests and lay their eggs on the floor where they’re bound to get
dirty and are hard to collect.
no perfect solution but careful nest management helps keep eggs clean and
How Many Nests
Most backyard chicken books and websites recommend placing one nest for every five hens. That’s good advice. One nest can accommodate a typical backyard flock of five or six hens. But more are usually needed. Most eggs are laid in the morning, so often several hens will be in the nest box at the same time jostling around while preparing to lay. Often that results in a broken egg or two that soil unbroken eggs. It wastes eggs and adds to the washing chore.
The obvious solution is to add more nests. Unfortunately, that often fails. Put six nests in a six-hen coop and they’ll continue laying nearly all the eggs in the favored nest. Nearby nests go unused.
few tricks to lure some hens into rarely used nests include:
Curtains: Chickens prefer a somewhat dark and private place to lay. Adding a curtain to drape down over a nest entrance may entice birds to enter a rarely used nest. Cut a piece of cloth from an old T-shirt or towel and staple it so it covers about the top half of the nest opening.
No Vacancy Sign: Covering a popular nest temporarily with a board is a “no vacancy” signal that forces hens to get in the habit of using other nests. After a week or so remove the board. By then some of the hens may have “adopted” the formerly little used nest.
Bait: An egg or two in a nest acts like bait that attracts hens. Putting an egg in a rarely used nest may lure some to get into the habit of laying there. Purchased artificial nest eggs work great and never spoil, but golf balls are a cheaper substitute. Real eggs also make great nest bait but should be rotated out daily and replaced with fresh ones so they don’t get old.
Chicken bodies range from tiny Bantams to massive Brahmas and Jersey Giants. Most flock owners typically favor brown egg laying breeds that weigh five to eight pounds. Nests measuring about 12” deep, 12” wide and 8 to 12” high work just fine for these mid-sized birds. Making a nest box is one of the simplest carpentry projects. A five-foot-long 1″ x 12” board cut to one-foot lengths is big enough for a single nest. A 10-foot board will make two nests. Be sure to cut a piece of scrap wood about 4” wide and 12” long and nail it to the bottom of the outside of the nest. It holds the nest bedding in place and keeps eggs from rolling out.
addition to cramming into a single nest chickens seem to delight in making egg
collecting challenging. They’ll choose to lay in the nest that’s hardest for a
person to reach. It might be down close to the floor requiring bending to
gather or in the box farthest from the coop door. The solution is simply to not
give them the option of laying in an inconvenient place.
more often eggs are collected the less time they will be in the nest to get
dirty, stale or broken. Convenience makes frequent collection pleasant and
likely. Place nest boxes close to the coop door in an easy to reach place. An
even better solution is to craft the coop, or buy a manufactured one, that has
nests protruding from the exterior wall with a trap door on top. That makes entering
the coop unnecessary for collecting eggs. Just lift up the trap door, reach
down, and gather.
Some hens will pop into a nest and lay an egg in a minute or two. Then she’s back on the floor. For other hens laying is a lengthy process. She’ll sit in the nest a long time. Every once in a while, she’ll jostle around. If three or four other hens are jammed into the same nest movement is likely to break an egg or two. Soft padding on the nest’s bottom helps prevent broken eggs and makes the laying experience more comfortable for hens. Many items work well to cushion eggs.
Wood shavings: Sawdust and wood shavings make ideal nest
linings, but they have one major problem. Put a couple of inches of fragrant
shavings in the nest, and the daily movement of hens will push much of it out.
It needs to be replaced often. Larger sized wood shavings tend to stay in place
longer than sawdust.
Commercial liners: Several companies sell nest
liners, usually made from plastic mats or woven wood fiber. They are ideal.
Since each is a single piece that fits snugly in the bottom of the nest hens
can’t scratch it out like they do with wood shavings. Plastic ones can be
washed occasionally. Soiled wood fiber ones can be composted.
Plastic door mat: Home stores commonly sell
green plastic door mats made to enable someone to rub dirty shoes off before
entering the house. They are inexpensive and can be easily cut to nest size
with a knife. They cushion eggs, can be easily washed, and hens can’t scratch
them out of the nest.
Straw: Straw is the classic nest lining that’s been used for thousands of years because it works. Straw fibers tend to somewhat interlock so hens have a hard time scratching them out of the nest. Straw soils and packs down over time, so it needs to be replaced occasionally. Used straw makes great garden mulch. A bale should last a year or more.
Homemade Straw: Folks who mow a lawn can
make their own nest lining free. Simply let the grass grow six or seven inches
high. Then mow it on a warm, breezy, sunny day.
The mower will spit out clumps of cut grass. Rake them into loose
windrows that allow the air to blow through the stalks and dry them. On a low
humidity day with a light wind it only takes a few hours for grass to cure.
Then rake it up and store it in a metal garbage can or another container with a
tight-fitting lid. Line the nest with a couple of inches of the homemade
straw. It’s softness cushions eggs while
its sweet smell makes collecting a joy.
people keep a few chickens in a backyard coop for the delicious fresh eggs they
lay. Eggs are gems of the coop, and
careful placement and management of nest boxes makes it likely that every egg
will be clean and easy to gather.
Congratulations, your chicks have made it to the transition stage!
A few weeks have passed since you brought those little balls of fluff home, and it’s time to formulate a plan on housing, because your flourishing chicks will soon outgrow that brooder.
Here are a few tips on transitioning to the coop some tips on feeding chicks and chick feeding recommendations as your babies grow into healthy adult birds.
The change in environment can be a big one for your chicks,
so consider these tips as you move them from brooder to adult coop:
Chicks should be mostly feathered – At 5 to 6 weeks your fluffy chicks will start to resemble adult birds by growing out pinfeathers.
These adult feathers will help them regulate their body temperature better than fluffy chick down.
Chicks should be acclimated – Although they start off at 90 – 95 degrees in the brooder the first week of life, you need to decrease this temperature each week until the temperature inside the brooder is close to what daytime temps will be. For the first few weeks (and especially if outdoor temperatures are fluctuating), you may want to bring the birds back into the brooder at night or in bad weather.
Chicks should be integrated – Nobody wants hen-house drama, and taking a few simple steps to introduce new birds to old will save a great deal of time and potential injuries.
These steps include having a “get acquainted” phase when the new and old birds are in separate, but attached areas so they can interact without aggressiveness.
You also want to do the coop consolidation at night so that the old and new flock wake up together, which can help minimize bullying.
On the Menu
At this point it is also important to remember, if you have youngsters joining your existing flock, to only feed chick starter to all birds until the youngest bird is 16 weeks.
The extra calcium in regular layer feed can harm young chicks. Once you’ve reached the 16 week mark, it is safe to switch to layer feed.
Your girls will most likely not be laying until they are around 24-26 weeks old, but it is important to build up the calcium level in their system. Using a layer crumble makes the transition a little easier.
Chicks should also be eating treats and grit by now. It’s a
great idea to get your birds used to eating treats (if you plan to offer them)
a few days prior to putting them outside. That way, you can use the treats to
lure the birds into a secure space at night, if needed.
Until they are used to thinking of the coop as “home base”
they may need just a bit of encouragement to go back in at night.
Just remember, if you start feeding treats, you should offer no more than 10-15% of the total diet as treats, so that you don’t create nutritional imbalances in their overall intake. Also, you should offer a grit free choice to aid in digestion.
You’ve just arrived home with a brimming box of peeping chicks, how exciting! The journey you are about to embark on is an exciting one, so get ready to learn about chick life stages and love those new fluffy creatures.
What to Expect – Week 1:
Before you go to pick up your new chicks, make sure the brooder is ready to go at home. This will prevent any unnecessary stress, for both you and the chicks.
Expect some peeping as the chicks get acquainted in their new environment, learning to drink and eat. They will likely do this for 4 or 5 days.
If the peeping seems to be excessive, make sure you evaluate the brooder for anything that may be causing distress.
A good indicator on temperature is to evaluate where the chicks are located. If they are spread out, they are likely comfortable.