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post #1 of 34 Old 08-08-2019, 09:56 AM Thread Starter
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New owner of chicks- am I doing it right?

Hi all,

Please forgive me for being a total newb to this. I've been wanting to raise chicks for a while so I finally bought 3 Welsummer chicks at TSC today. I got a heat lamp and bedding, as well as food (went with medicated, on a guess), feeder and water bottle.

I am using a Rubbermaid tote in my garage as a brooder. Is this okay? I also read that they should stay off of the bedding (pine chips) for a week until they know that it's not food. So I have about 2" of pine chips down and a towel laying over it. I have the heat lamp aimed at one side of the Rubbermaid bin. According to my infrared thermometer, the temp of the towel at the warm side is 96-ish degrees and about 87 degrees on the cool side. The surface of the plastic bin on the warm side is hotter at around 110-113 degrees but I don't think the chicks can reach it. The ambient temperatures here are lows of 60 ish at night, highs of 80-85 during the day.

I also read not to give them any food until they have drank some water or after a couple hours if they haven't had anything to drink. Is this correct?

Anything I can do to improve my setup? I want to raise these chicks as healthy as I possibly can with as few rookie mistakes as possible. Here is a picture of my current setup.

PS I have mounted the lamp on a separate piece of wood so that it cannot fall off if the bin melted.

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post #2 of 34 Old 08-08-2019, 10:08 AM
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Re: New owner of chicks- am I doing it right?

I raised chickens 40 years ago, so bar with me. Looking at that setup, be careful not to get them too warm. If they are trying to move away from the heat, they are too warm. Put the lamp further away from them. You shouldnt need much heat this time of year.

The feeding at that young, I dont really remember.

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post #3 of 34 Old 08-08-2019, 10:11 AM Thread Starter
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I raised chickens 40 years ago, so bar with me. Looking at that setup, be careful not to get them too warm. If they are trying to move away from the heat, they are too warm. Put the lamp further away from them. You shouldnt need much heat this time of year.

The feeding at that young, I dont really remember.
The temp is my main concern, I don't want them to get too hot. They have moved around a bit. The were initially on the warm side and then moved over to the cool side. They've only been in the brooder about an hour.

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post #4 of 34 Old 08-08-2019, 10:17 AM Thread Starter
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Ok I moved the lamp up a bit and now the warm side of the towel is about 90F and the cool side is about 83. The hottest part of the bin that the chicks can reach is about 92. Is this warm enough, too warm, or okay?

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post #5 of 34 Old 08-08-2019, 10:30 AM
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Re: New owner of chicks- am I doing it right?

Honestly, I think that's fine. Just keep plenty of water available, and be observant. They should have times of activity, and rest. If they seem lethargic, that can be a sign of something not right. But your setup/temp is very similar to ones I've raised 100's of chicks in through the years. Enjoy and keep us posted!

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post #6 of 34 Old 08-08-2019, 10:32 AM
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Your setup looks fine to me. You could also use a cardboard box if you decide you need more room. If I'm judging the picture right they look about a week old, so you should not have problems with them mistaking the shaving for food, especially if you use the flake shavings from TSC. I'd probably put their food in there already. I used to and still raise chicks for sale and i always put the water and food in together unless they are under 2-3 days old. Usually an indicator of hunger is if the chicks start pecking curiously at stuff around them or gently pecking each other. Usually the chicks don't get hungry until day 2 because they still feed of the remainder of their yolk. Thats why chicks can be shipped in the mail.

As for your temp look like you doing good. If the chicks are huddling it means they're cold(or scared). If they are panting, it is definitely to hot. If they are sleeping contentedly(like in your pic) its a sign of good weather. 👍🙂
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post #7 of 34 Old 08-08-2019, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies, they are much appreciated! This is my first venture into chickens so I'm just a bit anxious, want to make sure I'm not doing anything that could hurt them. We had ducks when I was a kid but I can't remember much about it except chasing them into the coop at night so the raccoons wouldn't get them.


I've moved some things around and laid a couple pieces of scrap wood across the top of the bin so they have some full shade and they seem like they are perking up now. They are eating pretty well and are beginning to drink water. Ill be keeping a close eye on them for a couple week but this should be an interesting little side hobby. I'll keep you all posted!

Thanks again!

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post #8 of 34 Old 08-08-2019, 06:10 PM
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Re: New owner of chicks- am I doing it right?

You should check out backyardchickens.com It's as good a resource for chicken raising as this forum is for learning about tractors...which means it's GREAT!When I got my first chickens a year and a half ago I spent a whole lot of time on that site. You'll learn, for example, that there's this thing called "chicken math"...which amazingly works pretty much like tractor math... you can never have enough! I Started with 6 chicks, within a week we were up to 12, and now we have 22! I started with one lawn mower tractor...and now I have that one, an almost garden tractor, and two garden tractors. Math.

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post #9 of 34 Old 08-08-2019, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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You should check out backyardchickens.com It's as good a resource for chicken raising as this forum is for learning about tractors...which means it's GREAT!When I got my first chickens a year and a half ago I spent a whole lot of time on that site. You'll learn, for example, that there's this thing called "chicken math"...which amazingly works pretty much like tractor math... you can never have enough! I Started with 6 chicks, within a week we were up to 12, and now we have 22! I started with one lawn mower tractor...and now I have that one, an almost garden tractor, and two garden tractors. Math.

I've actually been reading through several threads on that exact website. It's been really helpful so far. I'm actually already thinking about going back up to the store and buying maybe two more.

They mostly slept for the first few hours that I brought them home but they have been up and moving around for a few hours now. They seem content, they have been eating and drinking. I read online that Bragg's vinegar is good for their digestion, so I put about 4 ml in a quart of their water.

I tried throwing some of the pine chips on top of the towel and they were quick to start pecking at them. I don't want them to choke on them so I shook out the towel and put it back down. They were picking at the threads on the edges of the towel, so I tucked the edges underneath so they can't get at them. But overall they seem to be doing well.

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post #10 of 34 Old 08-08-2019, 10:54 PM
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I tried throwing some of the pine chips on top of the towel and they were quick to start pecking at them. I don't want them to choke on them so I shook out the towel and put it back down. They were picking at the threads on the edges of the towel, so I tucked the edges underneath so they can't get at them. But overall they seem to be doing well.
I've raised quite a bit of chicks over the years and our chicks always go straight from the incubator onto pine flakes (from TSC) and I've never had one chick die from choking. But it's totally up to you. I just thought I'd share my experience.

Keep us posted!👍
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post #11 of 34 Old 08-09-2019, 08:13 AM
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Re: New owner of chicks- am I doing it right?

Looking good.. if I have anything to add is that you really want to get some more... They are flock birds, and they really do better in a group. Not just day to day, but those cold winter nights you would do much better with 7-8 birds in total.

Have you started working out their coop yet?

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post #12 of 34 Old 08-09-2019, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
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I tried throwing some of the pine chips on top of the towel and they were quick to start pecking at them. I don't want them to choke on them so I shook out the towel and put it back down. They were picking at the threads on the edges of the towel, so I tucked the edges underneath so they can't get at them. But overall they seem to be doing well.
I've raised quite a bit of chicks over the years and our chicks always go straight from the incubator onto pine flakes (from TSC) and I've never had one chick die from choking. But it's totally up to you. I just thought I'd share my experience.

Keep us posted!👍
It's probably just me being nervous, just because I'm new to this, but I will slowly be getting them on to the pine flakes. Thanks!

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Looking good.. if I have anything to add is that you really want to get some more... They are flock birds, and they really do better in a group. Not just day to day, but those cold winter nights you would do much better with 7-8 birds in total.

Have you started working out their coop yet?
Thanks, I was thinking about going back up and getting maybe two more. 7 or 8 may be a little too many but Im pretty confident I can handle 5.

I have a few ideas in my head for a coop, I just have to see what wood I have laying around before I decide which way I'm going to go.

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post #13 of 34 Old 08-09-2019, 09:40 AM
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Re: New owner of chicks- am I doing it right?

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It's probably just me being nervous, just because I'm new to this, but I will slowly be getting them on to the pine flakes. Thanks!



Thanks, I was thinking about going back up and getting maybe two more. 7 or 8 may be a little too many but Im pretty confident I can handle 5.

I have a few ideas in my head for a coop, I just have to see what wood I have laying around before I decide which way I'm going to go.
There is zero difference in having 3... or having 10. other then food and water, they really take care of themselves. they like a group. I started with 9, but two turned out to be boys, and we got rid of them, and have had our 7 girls since..

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post #14 of 34 Old 08-09-2019, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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Well I did swap out the towel as it was getting pretty messy and they are now on straight pine chips. They picked at them on and off for maybe ten minutes and then went back to their food. I think they've got the idea now, bedding=not food. They seem to be eating and drinking and pooping just fine.

Temp on the hot side is about 95-97F, on the cool side is about 78-80F. They all seem to be following the others now, if one eats, the other two eat, if one drinks the other two drink, if one takes a nap the other two nap.

The one is a little more sleepy than the other two. It doesn't seem lethargic, because it wakes right up when you tap on the box or start moving things around, and it's eating and drinking. Maybe just it's personality.

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post #15 of 34 Old 08-09-2019, 02:30 PM
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Wonderful!👍

Make sure no poop get stuck and dries up around their vents. Sometimes poop will stick to the down around their vent blocking it and then they can't excrete proper. If that happens, dont panic. Just get some warm water in a bowl, put on some latex gloves, and gently soak the vent and the accumulated waste there until it gets soft and comes off. Then dry of the chick and he's good as new! I've had that happen every now and then. Usually the chick that's got it will be beeping loudly.
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