If you follow my social media, you know that Santa brought baby chicks this year for the girls! I had been wanting chicks since we moved into the new house since we have some land now yet didn't know when the time was right. We keep a busy schedule and I wanted to make sure I wasn't biting off more than I can chew! Because lets be real, mama is in charge of these chicks until they go outside. I did a lot of research before committing and asked a ton of questions! The poor lady at the feed store should have known when I showed up with over the knee boots on! This place was not for over the knee boots! Anyway, here are some of the questions I had and what we have found out.
1. Which chickens lay the most eggs?
Rhode Island Red- about 250 brown eggs a year. ( we got two of these)
Leghorns: about 250 white eggs a year- eggs from the grocery store are most likely from these
Plymouth Rock- about 200 light brown eggs a year. ( we got two of these too)
Sussex- about 250 brown or creamy white eggs a year.
Ancona- about 200 white eggs a year.
Marans- about 200 very dark brown eggs a year
Buff Orphington- about 180 eggs a year but get " broody" or lay less in the summer.
Also there are Easter Eggers or Ameraucana's that lay BLUE eggs! So fun! We want to add one to our roost as well as the ridiculous looking Silkie!
2. Which are the most friendly?
A: Our main purpose was raising chicks that were friendly and the girls could treat like pets. We found that Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orphingtons, Brahmas, and Silkies amongst a couple others are great with kids and can even be trained.
3. How many should we start out with?
A: We were recommended 4-6 to start with. We got two Rhode Island Reds and two Plymouth Rocks and plan to add two more to the bunch. We chose these two breeds because that is what was hatched at the moment as well as being friendly and good egg layers.
4. What sort of gear do we need to start with?
A: Chicks need to be incubated for 6 weeks or until they get their adult feathers. I'll be so sad when they lose that fluff! As soon as they have their feathers and the weather is warm enough ( 80 degrees) we can let them run around the yard a bit. For the first 6 weeks we got:
Nest ( we have used a plastic storage tote with tall sides. About 4 days after we got the chicks one started to jump onto feeder and onto edge! I cut up a used Amazon box and taped it to the sides as a make shift barrier. I think we are at the point of needing more space for them already ( about 3 weeks old)
Heat lamp- chicks have to be at 100 degrees at all times
Water feeder- we got plastic on with shallow dish ( chicks are big dummies and can drown easily so make sure water isn't deep.
Electrolyte powder and Probiotic powder- we add this to water.
Food feeder- Ours is plastic and has a dispenser with small holes. Again the dummies poop in their food sometimes and its best to not waste a bunch of food.
Food- the feed store recommended chick starter which is made of grain and milling. Its super fine and the chicks seem to love it. We will switch most likely to organic as soon as we get into their coop.
Shavings- A big bundle of shavings is put at bottom of your nest to keep sanitary and for them to be comfy.
5. How much maintenance do they need?
A: Chicks need very little maintenance! I clean the nest and replace the shavings once a week and keep an eye on their water and food. They do have a tendency to poop in their food as well as kick up shavings that land in it. I change their water it seems like about once a day or as needed. Their food dispenses as they eat it and I refill that maybe once a week. They also tend to poop their too so make sure to keep that clean so they don't get sick.
6. What's the coop situation like?
A: We are super excited about this Boomer and George coop . As soon as the weather is warmer and the chicks have their adult feathers they can go into their coop. It's recommended to keep coop in shady place and avoid a wind draft. Chickens like a little run so some space is good if you aren't going to keep them free range ( on the loose) all the time. 6 chickens will be just happy in a 4 box coop. They like to be together so some bunk up with another to lay eggs or keep warm.
Overall, we are having so much fun with them! They scurry around, eat like piggies, sleep and cheep! Ours are super curious and love shiny things. We have named them Hay Hay, Little Red, Bixby and Flower!