Whether a micro-flock or a larger endeavor, starting chickens is easy. You need heat, shelter with clean bedding, water, food, and, of course, chicks.
Heat. 90-95º F to start. No drafts. Use a heat lamp for a heat source and elevate it above the floor or ground of your shelter. For day-old chicks start at 90-95º F and reduce the heat approximately 1 degree per day for 30 days. Use a thermometer to be certain the area under the heat lamp (far enough away from the birds to be safe) is the appropriate temperature.
Shelter. A stall in a barn, a portion of an enclosed porch, a corner of a garage, part of a shed, a large box, all of these would work fine for your chicks. It is important that the chicks are contained and safe from predators and in close proximity to their food and water. Bedding of shavings or sawdust or shredded newspaper that can be swept or replaced.
Water. Clean water in a gravity feeder all the time. When your chicks arrive take the chick gently in your hand and dip its beak into the water a couple times until it takes a drink. S/he will be thirsty. Make sure s/he knows where the waterer is. Then feed her the same way, by dipping her beak into the feed.
Food: Countryside Organics Starter for one month. Grower/Broiler until 4 months for layers and till finish for broilers. Layer Feed from 4 months on. Mix some pulverized, hard boiled organic eggs into the starter feed for the first couple of days (it’s what they have been dining on so far!). Add small-sized starter grit, free choice, after 1o days or so. Be sure to not add grit too early as the young chicks may mistake it for feed.
Chicks. Order your chicks mail-order from McMurray Hatchery. You can order a mix and it is fun to go in on an order with friends. Order well in advance of your start date to be guaranteed the type of bird(s) you desire. McMurray will give you a day that you should expect your chickens. Be sure to be available to pick them up from the Post Office.
More info? See this page for more information on raising small flocks of chickens by Harvey Ussery. See our own FAQ about how much feed for chickens here.
Have fun and as Patricia Foreman says, “May the flock be with you!”