There's a lot of work in the next couple of weeks to prepare for bringing your birds home.
Today's video has tips and tricks for setting up the brooder. You'll notice in the store that we have a commercial brooder. Yet, we also set up chicks in a trough with a heat lamp. Either method works, so you don't have to break the bank. Just assure your baby chicks warmth, comfort, and space. You can use a box or plastic tote, just be cautious of the heat source so you don't start a fire or melt the tote. Shallow is okay to start. The birds aren't going to fly away. But when they're big enough to hop up and roost on the edge, it's time to think about a bigger bucket!
You'll need the feeders and waterers. We have all sizes at the store. The smaller-holed models help to minimize the mess from little peckers.
You'll need the shavings and the cleaning supplies to wash all the supplies. Sanitizing with one part bleach to nine parts water is recommended.
You'll need a light source. Provide 18 – 22 hours of light for the first week. Then reduce light to 16 hours through the growing period or to the amount of light they will receive when they are 20 weeks of age. The amount of light intensity required would be provided by a 40 watt bulb for each 100 square feet (10’ x 10’) of floor space.
And then there's the feed. We stand by Purina Start N Grow, but don't worry about carrying home a 50# sack with your set-up supplies. Take advantage of the special during Chick Days. You'll get your 6 pullets (or 10 straight run) and that bag of feed for only $20. Depending upon how many birds you're feeding (and how messy they are) that bag will last a while. Then you can plan ahead for the transition to the layer pellets or crumbles. We sell 5# and 25# sacks of Start N Grow, too, so you don't have too much waste when the birds outgrow it.
So what are pullets, anyway? Pullets are young hens who have been sexed by the hatchery to a 99% accuracy. (They sex them by looking at their wing feathers.) Can a rooster slip into the mix when a hatchery is funneling through 1000's of birds? Yes, humans can make errors and direct a bird to the wrong side of the table. Hence, the 99% accuracy. In the event that your growing hen is a him that crows you awake early one morning, we trust that you will find him a good home on a farm.
Barnyard flocks are more accepting of a rooster in the mix, and that's why there are more birds in the straight run special. Those are unsexed birds, so you get a quantity of each gender by the luck of the draw.
Tomorrow, we'll talk about the breeds in the special. To finish up, here's a checklist of supplies that you'll need to begin raising chicks.