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Month by Month Guide to Raising Chickens for Beginners

Month by Month Guide to Raising Chickens for Beginners

Month by Month Guide to Raising Chickens for Beginners

Posted on June 18th, 2024 


Welcome to our blog post all about raising chickens! Whether you're a seasoned farmer or just starting your journey in backyard chicken keeping, there are a few key preparations that are crucial for success. 

One of the first steps is selecting the right breed for your goals and needs. Not only does this affect their egg-laying capabilities, but also their temperament and ability to withstand various weather conditions.  

Once you've chosen the perfect breed, it's time to set up your brooder. This is where your chicks will spend the first few weeks of their lives, so it's important to have everything set up properly. 

Gathering essential supplies such as chick starter feed, a shallow waterer, a heat lamp, and suitable bedding like pine shavings is key. Additionally, implementing a regular cleaning routine and practicing proper sanitation will help keep your chicks healthy and happy. 

One natural method for pest control in the brooder is diatomaceous earth, which can help prevent mites and lice. It's also important to choose a draft-free location for the brooder and keep it away from potential dangers like household pets. 

Now let's take a closer look at each. 


Preparing for Your Chicks 

When preparing for your chicks, there are a couple of crucial steps you need to focus on to ensure everything runs smoothly. 

One of the first things you should do is choose the right breed based on your goals. If you're looking for excellent egg production, consider breeds such as Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Australorps, Red Sexlink , Comets are some of the Best. 

These chicken breeds for eggs are known for their high yield and consistent laying behaviors. Remember, your chosen breed affects not only the egg-laying but also the temperament and hardiness of your flock, making it an important decision for beginners. 

Out of the best egg layers my opinion is the Rhode Island Reds have a pretty nice temperment as well. However if wanting chickens with great temperment that also lay a lot of eggs it would be #1 the Buff Orpington or Lavender Orpington and the Bard Rocks

Once you've picked your ideal breed, setting up a brooder should be next on your list. A brooder is a heated space that keeps young chicks warm until they can regulate their body temperature. This setup usually involves a secure enclosure with a heat lamp, bedding, and feeders. Make sure to place the heat lamp safely to avoid fire hazards and keep a thermometer handy to maintain a steady temperature of around 95°F for the first week, dropping by 5°F each subsequent week. 

Gathering the necessary supplies is another critical step in your beginners guide to raising chickens. Essential items include chick starter feed, a waterer, a heat lamp, and suitable bedding such as pine shavings. Ensure you have enough feed on hand and that the waterer is shallow to prevent young chicks from drowning. Additionally, introduce grit to aid in digestion if you start offering treats beyond their starter feed. Sanitation and safety are paramount throughout this process. Use a thorough cleaning routine for your brooder to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria and always wash your hands before and after handling chicks to prevent the spread of disease. 

Diatomaceous Earth can serve as a natural method to control pests like mites and lice. Lastly, pay special attention to the placement of your brooder. It should be in a draft-free location away from pets and other potential dangers. As you embark on raising chickens, taking these preparation steps seriously will set a strong foundation for a healthy, thriving flock. 

Don't hesitate to reach out for expert advice if any questions arise. We're here to support you every step of the way. 

The Three most important things in Raising day old chicks are (in this order as well)

1. Air quality of the brooder. If you can smell that their brooder stinks they smelt it a day or so before you did. This can mess up their respitory system and cause your chicks the most harm. 

2. Water at all Times. Even at night . Clean and Fresh 

3. Lastly but very important is the Quality of feed . 

The First Month: Caring for Baby Chicks 

After setting up your brooder space and gathering the necessary supplies, it's crucial to understand the day-to-day care of your baby chicks during their first month. 

To start with, maintaining the proper temperature in the brooder is fundamental to ensure the well-being of your chicks. Keep the temperature around 95°F during the first week, and reduce it by 5°F each week until it's level with the ambient temperature. A thermometer placed at chick height can help you monitor and adjust the heat as needed. 

Pay attention to their behavior: if chicks huddle under the lamp, they’re too cold; if they move to the edges, it's too hot, and if they are spread evenly, it's just right. Raising chickens 101 emphasizes that temperature is key during this phase. Now, regarding their diet, a well-balanced chick starter feed is essential for growth and development. This feed contains the right nutrients and proteins young chicks need. 

Always have fresh water available, and ensure the waterer is shallow enough to prevent accidental drownings. As they grow, you can start introducing small amounts of grit to aid digestion, especially if you're giving them treats gradually. 

Clean the brooder regularly to avoid any buildup of waste, which can harbor harmful bacteria. Consider adding Diatomaceous Earth as a natural pest control method. Your vigilance during this month lays a solid foundation for a thriving flock. 

Monitoring chick health is another vital aspect of the first month. Check them daily for signs of illness, such as lethargy, coughing, or unusual droppings. Pay attention to their behavior and physical appearance; healthy chicks are typically lively and alert with clean, dry feathers. 

Handling your chicks gently and frequently helps them get used to human interaction, building trust and ensuring easier management as they grow. Raise your hand slowly and let them walk onto it instead of grabbing them suddenly. 

Socializing your chicks from a young age contributes to a friendly and manageable flock. Keep an eye on their growth milestones - by the end of the month, they should start developing feathers and becoming more active. Remember, consistent and attentive care is fundamental in the month by month guide to raising chickens. 

You are setting the stage for a rewarding poultry life, and we're here to support you every step of the way. Should any concerns or questions arise, don’t hesitate to reach out. You’ve got this, and your chicks will thank you for the great start. 


From Four to Eight Weeks: Transitioning to the Coop 

As week four rolls around, it’s time to start thinking about transitioning your chicks to their permanent coop. This phase in your month by month guide to raising chickens involves steps to ensure a smooth move. 

Begin by gradually introducing them to cooler temperatures. Lower the heat in the brooder by removing the heat lamp for short periods each day, so they acclimate to ambient temperatures. Once they are fully feathered, they’ll be better equipped to handle the elements. Prepare their new coop by ensuring it's safe, predator-proof, and comfortable. 

A well-built coop should offer protection from weather and predators, which might involve fortifying walls and floors, and installing secure locks. Access to fresh water and a balanced diet continues to be imperative. Transition from chick starter to a grower feed around this time, providing the necessary nutrients for their development. Additionally, it's a good idea to place some grit in a small dish inside the coop as they start exploring their new environment. 

Introducing your chicks to the outdoors requires careful planning. Start by letting them explore a small, secure run adjacent to the coop for short periods on sunny, calm days. This helps them get used to their surroundings, the sights, and the sounds of the outside world while still offering protection. 

For night-time, bring them back to the brooder until they are consistent with their roosting behavior. Speaking of roosting, it's time to encourage them to use roost bars within their coop. Install these bars at different heights and distances, enabling the chicks to practice and find their preferred spots. Roosting is a natural behavior vital for their comfort and safety. As they continue to grow, keeping their diet on point is essential. Incorporate more substantial feed items, maintaining a balance that supports their health. Watch for any signs of illness or distress, adapting your strategies as needed. 

Remember, raising chickens 101 is all about being observant and responsive. Throughout this transition, don’t forget to address any questions or concerns that might arise. Our expert guidance is just a call away, and we’re committed to supporting you and your fledgling flock throughout every phase. 


Adolescence: Eight to Sixteen Weeks 

As your chicks enter the adolescent stage, roughly between eight to sixteen weeks, they transition away from being delicate fluffballs, embarking on rapid growth spurts and significant behavioral changes. This period in your month by month guide to raising chickens requires heightened attention to certain aspects that can affect their development. 

Firstly, addressing their spatial needs is a very important aspect. It's best to make sure your coop provides adequate space; at least 2-3 square feet per bird inside the coop and 8-10 square feet each in the run. Adequate space minimizes stress and injury due to overcrowding. Ventilation is another key factor; proper airflow prevents respiratory issues and reduces dampness, which can lead to health complications. 

Equip your coop with ventilators or small windows, paying attention to drafts. Since this period often coincides with integrating different chicken breeds, observe their interactions carefully. Some pecking order disputes are natural, but persistent bullying needs immediate attention. Introduce new birds slowly and ideally during the evening when chickens are calmer. 

Diet adjustments are vital during this stage. Transition your flock from chick starter to grower feed around the twelve-week mark to support their growth and nutrient needs. Grower feed contains the right balance of protein and minerals essential for adolescence. Continue to offer grit in their diet, providing it in a separate dish to aid digestion, especially important as they start foraging more actively. Behavioral issues such as feather picking or aggressive pecking can arise during this period. These behaviors often indicate deficiencies in diet or space, or sometimes boredom. 

Providing enrichment, such as perches at varying heights, dust bathing areas, and scattered feed, can help reduce such issues. Be vigilant about health concerns like coccidiosis and Marek’s disease, which tend to affect chickens during their juvenile phase. Clean living conditions and proper vaccinations can prevent these. 

Regular check-ups on their plumage, behavior, and droppings are all important practices promoted by raising chicken breeds guidelines. 

Any sign of lethargy, drooping wings, or abnormal droppings should prompt immediate investigation. 

Keep in mind that careful observation and timely intervention are key. Your consistent care during these weeks sets the stage for a robust, harmonious flock as they progress to maturity. Don’t hesitate to contact us for personalized advice and support; your success is our priority! 


Maturity: Sixteen Weeks and Beyond 

As your chickens reach sixteen weeks and beyond, they transition into adulthood, which marks an exciting phase in the month by month guide to raising chickens. This period brings the first egg production, which every new poultry farmer eagerly anticipates. Typically, your hens start laying between 18 to 24 weeks, though this can vary slightly depending on the breed and individual hen. 

Identifying laying hens is essential; they will often have bright red combs and wattles, and you may notice them squatting when you approach, indicating readiness to lay. Once they begin laying, ensure you provide nesting boxes filled with clean, soft bedding like straw or pine shavings. A good rule of thumb is one nesting box for every three to four hens to avoid competition. 

Collecting and storing eggs daily helps maintain cleanliness and reduces the risk of eggs getting dirty or broken. Store eggs in a cool, dry place, and if you choose to refrigerate them, do so promptly. 

During this maturity phase, altering your routine care is necessary to maintain their health and productivity. Coop cleaning becomes even more imperative; establish a regular cleaning schedule to replace soiled bedding and remove waste. This practice not only ensures a healthy environment but also minimizes odors and pests. 

When it comes to diet changes, transition your hens from grower feed to layer feed, which contains a higher calcium content essential for strong eggshells. Continue to offer grit and oyster shells as free-choice supplements to aid in digestion and calcium intake. Regular health checks are indispensable; monitor your flock for signs of illness or distress, such as changes in appetite, unusual droppings, or lethargy. 

Checking for external parasites like mites and lice should also be part of your routine. As your hens mature, they will benefit from engaging activities like dust baths and foraging opportunities to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Remember, our expert advice is always available to help you navigate these changes and any concerns you may encounter. With attentive care and a bit of patience, you'll enjoy a productive and happy flock. 


Wrapping up 

With these steps laid out, your journey into raising chickens is well supported. From choosing the right chicks to ensuring their well-being as they grow, each stage offers distinct challenges and rewards. 

Make sure to stock up on essentials such as grit, diatomaceous earth, and quality feed tailored to their growth stages. Even if you're starting fresh with baby chicks or balancing the dietary needs of quail, you're not alone. 

Contact us today for expert advice and guidance on raising healthy, happy chickens. You can reach us via our contact page or call 385-288-1160. Let's make your poultry-raising endeavor a great success together!

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