Michelle of Simplify Live, Love has been raising Hoover’s Hatchery chickens this summer. She has great tips for you on what you need to do to prepare for their arrival. From picking them up at your local post office to letting you know what styles of waterers you need to have on hand, this gal has a plan and knows her chickens.
Congratulations! You finally decided to take the plunge and raise backyard chickens. You’ve ordered your chicks, perhaps even from Hoover’s Hatchery a local Iowa business, and received the shipping confirmation. Suddenly you realize that they’re really arriving! Now what? To get your chicks off to the best start, here are a few things you can do to be prepared.
How to Prepare for Mail Order Chicks (of the feathered variety)
Because let’s be real. I’m not giving advice on any other type of mail order chicks.
- Brooder Box – This can really be anything you want. I use a rectangular box my husband actually built to be a dog bed. I like that it has higher sides to keep the chicks from jumping out for at least a few weeks. Your box needs to be big enough to give the chicks room to run around, keeping in mind that the chicks will grow quite quickly. My box is about 3 ft x 4 ft with 1 ft sides. It easily fits 25 chicks at a time, and I would have no qualms about housing a few more in there. I’ve also seen people use plastic tote boxes successfully but they work only for a smaller number of chicks, like five or fewer.
- Wood chips / Bedding – I use wood shavings that I get for free from a local cabinet building shop. Pine shavings are ideal, but cedar shavings are toxic. You can use papertowels for the first day or so, but get some type of bedding very quickly for your chicks. Water & Food – Chicks need constant access to fresh, cool water. They should access it from a shallow container so they can’t drown in it. I’ve also found it helpful to lift it up off the brooder box floor an inch or two to keep bedding out of it. I used little pieces of styrofoam. I left them like this so you can see better in the picture, but I hide them a better underneath the water container a bit better to keep them from pecking the styrofoam. Food should be specially formulated for chicks and is called crumble or mash. Don’t feed baby chicks food for older chickens as the composition is not good for the babies. I feed my chickens an organic chick starter that I order from my local feed store and use a galvanized chick feeder.Be sure to follow Simplify, Live, Love on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ to stay in the know of what’s happening on her Iowa homestead. We thank Michelle for her contributions to What’s Hatching and look forward to reading how her chickens enjoyed their summer on her homestead.