How To Feed Baby Chicks + {Giveaway} Chick Feed Starter Kit

So you’ve got some new little chicks-congrats! Now you have to keep them alive. First job, warmthCheck. Second job, waterCheck. Third job, food.

how to feed baby chicks

How To Feed Your Chicks

Ok, chick food. Here’s where it get’s interesting. Layer, starter, grower? Organic, or not? Medicated, or not? What the heck? Do you just buy the first bag with a hen on it you see at the feed store and cross your fingers?

As it turns out, this chick feed decision isn’t that tough, if you know a few basics about chick feed.

Chick Feed: What It Is

If your little peepers are still in the “awwwe, cute!” stage, you’ll want a dedicated chick starter feed. This is a high protein, low calcium, nutritionally balanced feed manufactured in a small size chicks can eat.

Why You Use It

Chicks have different dietary needs from laying hens, growing meat birds, or older, but not yet laying, birds. A dedicated chick feed provides enough protein (typically about 20%) to promote strong, healthy growth without supplementation and all the vitamins and minerals a little chickey needs to get off to a good start.

How Long To Use It

Go with chick feed from hatching until 2 months of age, or as directed by the feed manufacturer. At this point, transition your birds to a lower protein grower feed (16-18% protein) until the onset of egg laying (for laying hens), or slaughter (for meat birds).

Do not transition 2 month old birds directly to layer feed – it has too much calcium for birds that aren’t yet laying eggs. From 4 to 5 months old, or at expected age of lay, pullets can move to a layer feed, which maintains a moderate 16-18% protein, but greatly increases calcium levels to provide sufficient mineral support for strong shell formation.

Organic vs. Conventional Chick Feed

Let me be really, really blunt. I grow organic, buy organic, and I have as a blog sponsor one of the most ethical, well-respected, independent organic chicken feed manufacturers in the country (yay Scratch and Peck!). For me, the organic vs. conventional feed decision is a total no brainer, and I’ve been feeding my chickens Scratch and Peck feeds since I started keeping hens, long before this blog was popular enough for anyone to sponsor anything.

However, I like to play fair(ish), so this is the reality: organic feed is more expensive. That’s the primary and, as far as I can see, only drawback. Organic feed promotes organic grain industries, funnels money to organic farmers, provides for your hens without supporting GMO corn and soy industries, and probably decreases the level of pesticide and herbicide residue in the backyard eggs your family eats.

But, yeah, like most organic options, organic chicken feed is more expensive. For me the few bucks a bag more is a moderately small price increase for a big values payoff, but this is an assessment every chicken-keeper will need to make for themselves, based on their finances, flock size and their comfort level with conventionally raised, GMO-commodity crop based feeds.

Medicated vs. Unmedicated Chick Feed

Medicated chick feed is offered by many feed manufacturers. The addition of a medication – typically Amprollium – in the feed offers chicks some protection against the development of a disease called coccidiosis. Coccidiosis is caused by a common intestinal parasite, cocci. You should assume that all chickens carry cocci and shed them in their feces.

Healthy chickens encounter the cocci parasite naturally, build up a natural resistance to it, and are typically unhurt by it. However, poor conditions including overcrowding, damp bedding, unclean coop and run areas, and warm, humid environments can lead to high levels of cocci. When this happens, chickens and chicks can develop coccidiosis, an overgrowth of the cocci parasite in the intestinal track. Coccidiosis leads to bloody feces and can be fatal to birds. As you might expect, chicks who have not yet developed their natural resistance are more at risk from coccidiosis.

Medicated chick feed is one of those areas where reasonable people can disagree. I believe preventative chick medication is typically unnecessary for the average backyard chicken keeper. In fact, unless you have had prior outbreaks of coccidiosis in your flock, I think it makes sense to let chicks build up their natural immunity right from the start. After all, they will eventually encounter cocci. The best thing you can do to prevent an outbreak of coccidiosis is to keep your coop clean, and small flock holders have little excuse for under-maintaining their chicken’s environment.

However, if you raise a lot of chicks at once, or if you live in an area or have a chicken yard with a known history of coccidiosis outbreaks, medicated chick feed may make sense for you. So do your research and know why you are making the decision you are.

Natural-method chicken-keepers who prefer not to preventively administer meds can encourage healthy, balanced digestion in their flock and discourage parasitic buildup in the gut by adding 1-2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar to each gallon of chicken water and feeding probiotic-rich “treats” like yogurt. And of course, ensure your hens have lots of room and access to yummy green and growing things.

What Else Do Chicks Need?

Water!!!
This is so important it got three exclamation marks. Water – I mean it! Never allow chicks (or older chickens) to run short on fresh, clean water. They need constant access to a fresh water source.

Chick Grit
Chick-sized grit (basically broken up bits of rock) allows your babies to maximize the nutrition in their feed and develop their gizzard. If you are using a processed, pelletized or crumbled feed, grit is less necessary right off the bat, but since I feed my chicks Scratch and Peck’s whole grain mash-type chick starter, I offer grit from Day One. You can feed your chicks grit free-choice by sprinkling it over their bedding or filling an empty (clean, duh!) tuna can with grit, or you can blend the grit right into the chick starter.

Greens
Who doesn’t love a salad? Occasional treats of dark leafy greens that you would eat (think lettuce, parsley, kale, carrot tops, etc.) are great for chicks. Fresh lawn or grass untreated with herbicides or fertilizers is great too. If your chicks have free access to pasture, they will build their own salad bar as they like. If they don’t, make sure to supplement with a little bit of the good green stuff. I don’t give baby chicks big starch-bomb treats like pasta or leftover oatmeal. I know they need a high-protein diet and I don’t want them filling up on the proverbial breadbasket.

Bugs
“All vegetarian feed” – what a stupid way to advertise “pure” eggs, huh? This egg carton slogan, designed to fool people who’ve never seen a chicken devour a worm or a frog or a plate of…well…chicken, conveniently side-steps the fact that chickens are omnivores. I watched one of my hens jump 3 feet into the air to catch a moth yesterday. So don’t let the adverts fool ya, chickens are just tiny T-Rexs with wings.

As soon as it is safe to do so, start introducing your chicks to the wonder of small worms, little buggies, and other critters small enough to be a chick meal. Don’t worry, they will figure out what to do. If your chicks have a mama hen, she will delight in teaching her babies the scratch-scratch-hop-back-and-peck dance and they’ll be catching their own bugs in no time.

The Giveaway

My sponsor Scratch and Peck wants to help you get your 2014 flock up and growing naturally. They are giving away one of their Chick Starter Kits ($24 value) which includes ten pounds of their organic, certified GMO-free Chick Starter, seven pounds of chick grit and 2 pounds of food grade diatomaceous earth, which is a natural, non-toxic way to control parasites and mites in poultry.

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One lucky winner will be shipped the Scratch and Peck Chick Starter Kit. To enter, just leave a comment below telling me how large your chicken flock is and what you love – or don’t – about the size flock you care for.

Contest open until Tuesday, May 6th at 8:30 PM Pacific Time. Winner will be contacted by email and shall have 24 hours to respond to claim his or her prize. Contest open to residents of the US only, due to shipping constraints. Sorry, international readers!

Best of luck, guys!

Eat From The Larder Challenge: Week Four Wrap Up
Dos and Don’ts for Cheapskates

Comments

  1. Well, I watch my sisters chickens when she’s out of town (this is most of the time).

    I don’t like the poop. It’s gross. The vet bills are crazy, but I don’t pay those. Over a grand in some cases. She takes them to a vet who specializes strictly in chickens!!

    But they’re cute and they’re my friends so it’s all good.

    The eggs are great too, tasty and huge!

  2. I don’t have chicks YET but saw a really cool chicken coop available at Sam’s Club. I would almost live in it. Anyway, my granddaughter’s family just got 3 chicks. I would love to win
    the feed starter kit.

  3. I have 12 chicks and this is our first attempt at raising chickens so we are real newbies, but it seems like a good size flock for us to start with. I am hoping to add to it if all goes well!

  4. We raise chickens and sell eggs from a mini farm. We feed all organic. We only have about 15 chickens, but we just bought an additional 18. These came from straight runs and are about three different sizes. A few little peepers and there are some that are about a month old.

  5. I am so with you on the organic…. I’ve actually had to resort to making/mixing my own chick feed last year as I couldn’t source any organic chick feed here in Ireland.

  6. Will have 25 baby chicks coming at then end of May. Our first time ever raising chicks, the kids are so excited! Thanks for the chance to win!

  7. We started raising chickens last spring. We have two hens and a rooster that are a year old and seven babies that are almost six weeks. It’s been wonderful having the fresh eggs this year and we’re looking forward to having more coming up. If all goes well with these we should never have to buy eggs at the store. Thanks for the post–your discussion on the pros/cons of the medicated feed is very helpful. We’ve been feeding the older birds organic for awhile but they don’t carry the organic starter locally, so I’ll be looking up Scratch and Peck! Thanks, Mary K.

  8. Right now my flock is at 5 but I am looking to get a couple more this spring. The hens each have their own personality and it is so much fun to watch them. I bought Scratch and Peck here locally once and my girls loved it. Trouble is, the cost was exorbitant due to being shipped here, I guess. I am researching ways to get it without having to pay the extra shipping. ( I have a sister who lives in Washington:) ) Favorite? Eggs and entertainment! Least favorite? sick chickens! Thanks for the opportunity to win. Love your blog and your sense of humor!

  9. I have 12 hens and one old worn out rooster. I usually loose some of my hens to the neighborhood dogs, opossums, or hawks. This year I have not lost any, so my problems is what to do with all these eggs.

  10. I seemed destined to only have a flock of 3, which for now is perfect as my husband and I are now empty nesters, and with my small flock I can treat them like the pets they are.

  11. Yay, Erica! We’re on our 2nd round of chick-raising (the first were hen-raised). We have 5 adults and are raising 10 unusual breeds (on organic feed, natch) as an in-city 4H-like project (Shout out to: Cooped Up in Seattle 4H). My only concern about the number of chicks is that I hope we sell all of them off in June. [BTW, please consider me not-eligible for the giveaway ... it should go to a newbie chicken raiser.]

    The only point I’ld like to add holds true for both hens and chicks. Grass/lawn is great for chickens, if the chickens are free-range/in a chicken tractor. Don’t put your lawn clippings into the run for them to ‘graze’ on, however. The natural resistance of the blade of grass still attached to dirt is enough to ensure that they don’t gobble too many pieces at once – you can get an engorged crop. You can, however, after the lawn clippings are dry, put them into the run as a litter layer for those of you making compost in situ. The chickens won’t gobble up the drier stuff and make themselves sick.

  12. Stephanie Schanda says:

    We have 5 two year old laying hens and 4 two week old pullets. I’m curious when we integrate them into one living quarter should I change everyone over to grower until the pullets become hens, with free choice calcium (which the hens already have in addition to layer food)?

    • Stephanie, I would wait until your pullets are at least 2 months old before attempting to merge them into the flock. A lot depends on how smooth the process will go, if they have plenty of room and you introduce them in the night when your hens are roosting I bet things will go smoothly. If they feel overcrowded then things will get ugly and they will start hen pecking. Keep a sharp eye out for missing tail feathers and you can probably prevent a fatality, however, if they start to bleed if you do not get them out asap they are a gonner.

  13. I currently have 3 hens with 4 babies coming in a couple of weeks! I am so excited to add to my little backyard flock in Los Angeles. I love watching my ladies talk to each other (especially when food is involved) and how each lady had a distinct personality. I’m looking forward to being a ‘mama hen’ again!

  14. My flock is only 3 right now I got free from someone giving them away. I want to get more this spring.

  15. We have 7 layers, and one of those broody gals just hatched 5 eggs (out of 12 I bought off Craigslist – I’ll take it).

    I only provide non-gmo feed as well and we use Hiland Naturals as it’s somewhat local to us over here in Ohio. That plus their mobile electric netting paddocks that might make Paul Wheaton proud seem to keep them pretty happy.

    Thanks for the contest!

  16. Laura Hake says:

    We have four hens and one rooster and are in the process of hatching 46 eggs in our incubator hoping to increase our little flock. I appreciate your blog and the fun contests you provide! Great job entertaining and educating your loyal readers! :)

  17. Emilie Ritchie says:

    While I do not have chickens at the moment, I’m trying to get my backyard ready for them. I would only have about 3 or 4 chickens since our yard is pretty small. I would love to win this to help my future chickens to start off right.

  18. Kristina Cool says:

    Our chicks are due to arrive on June 25th, so I can’t say what I like or dislike about that flock size yet! I am ordering 18 chickies with the intent to keep 6-8 (the rest are going to a friend). The coop is in the process of being built and I am slowly gathering supplies.

  19. I currently have 13 hens, but a few are due for culling. This is a decent size for us since we keep chickens to help with compost needs – eggs are a bonus! We just added 4 chicks which we gave to our broody hen, and I have to say, I really prefer the mess in the coop instead of in my house. Mom and babies are thriving, and it is simply the cutest thing to see a chick pop its head out from under a hen.

  20. Thanks for this great article on chicks, Erica!

    I have my first flock of chicks this spring. We have 13 and my three little girls and I are really enjoying watching them grow and how different their personalities can be. My husband has also taken an interest in the chicks as well. They are the family pastime right now. :)

    This article was great to compile lots of information into one spot for the new chicken farmer! Thanks and thanks for your awesome blog. We are new transplants to the PNW from Southern California so it’s been really helpful for me.

    Thanks!

  21. I have a flock size of 9. I would like to get one more to make it an even number.

  22. Wendy Coffman says:

    I have no chickens yet…but it’s long been on the family to do list. I read about raising chickens and plan to go the organic natural route but just haven’t had the guts to jump in yet. I think my boys would really love it!

  23. Francisco says:

    I have 5 chickens. I don’t like the number because it used to be 7 before the raccoon attack.

  24. We have ducks (2 layers + 10 ducklings) and would love to expand with chickens!!

  25. I have 9 hens and one rooster. One of my hens FINALLY became broody and is sitting on about 6 eggs right now. We’re so excited. I love for the hens to hatch out their own chicks because they do a much better job of keeping them warm / protecting them from predators than I do. Sadly, one of my roosters was recently carried off by a coyote (I think). He was an unhappy feller, though, as he was not the alpha and was perpetually frustrated.

  26. We have 12 layers and two roos (one is living on borrowed time as we’ve been too busy to harvest him) and we’ve fed them Scratch and Peck from day one. Our oldest girls are in their third year of lay. We let our broody girls hatch out a few chicks each year to keep our egg counts up and a few roos in the freezer. This is a good sized backyard flock for our current residence, but we will be increasing our numbers once we get the farm up and running and move out there.
    Just wanted to make a clarification to the newbie chickeneers – yogurt should not be fed to chicks for the same reasons you list for not feeding them layer feed – too much calcium.
    I’m not raising any chicks this season so not looking to win the chick starter pack, but I do enjoy reading your blog!

  27. natalie kittrell says:

    I love all aspects of my chickens. I have a small backyard flock of 8, but due to the nature of chicken math I initially only wanted 4. Somehow, I ended up buying 6 little chicks, and adopted 2 more that were a different breed. I think having the chickens has brightened my days and given me so much joy in life. It’s comical to watch them. They’re my babies.

  28. Sarah Dugan says:

    We have eight new chickens. We used to have three, lost one to sickness, got three more to make five, moved, lost four to some animal, and gave the sole survivor away. So we started all over again this year! A strong animal proof coop, with a run that has an electric fence and is eagle-proof (geez a lot of animals want to eat chickens!). I love having this amount as it allows me to have different breeds and share the eggs (there is no way we’ll eat that many). I think of the chickens like flowers with their beautiful plumage. It makes me happy as would winning the chicken starter kit. Oh and that would make them happy too.

  29. I have 4 laying hens and 8 chicks. This is my first time with chicks so I appreciate all the info! I started with the 4 laying hens last year (they were laying when I got them) but decided that it was time to expand. I loved having just 4 to start but I think I will love having a larger flock even more. I just love chickens!

  30. I have become wary of the factory farm products – chicken, beef and pork.
    I am raising 35 fryer chicks.
    I love watching them, they are so confident and bold in a tiny little ball of fluff – and they eat alot!
    I plan to put them in a chicken tractor on clean pasture when they feather out.
    They will live a short life, as all Cornish X do, but it will be a happy and natural life.

  31. Love my chicks!

  32. I am a budding urban farmer. We bought our little slice in 2012 and within weeks had our first little lock of 6 bitty chicks. 2 years later and approaching our 3 summer, We have 10 layers (destined for the stew pot this fall) 10 layers to be (hopefully the end of may) and 10 meat chicks. Not to mention the rabbit herd and dairy goats. So many critters to feed! We are deicated to provideing our family with non gmo feed. Lucky for me Scratch n Peck is just a five minute drive away! We use their oats, peas, and barley feed for our livestock and the chicken layer is fermented into a pickly treat for our ladies. Our budget is small, and that is really the only complaint i have about our flock size. SO MANY BEAKS TO FEED. However, they hold their own through tthe summer months. We sell the extra eggs to neighbors and feel good about the fact that we have gmo free, local farm grain, raised livestock.

  33. Only 3 in my hen house, but more than that and I end up with too many eggs and work. the least enjoyable part of chicken keeping is dispatching hens that are no longer productive…Thanks for the chance to win.

  34. Right now, my flock size is 4. And the thing I love most is that each of them are a different heritage breed! So fun. Least favorite thing is their hootin’ and hollering at the crack of dawn every morning so that I let them out. No sleeping in for this girl! Haha

  35. Pat Bourret says:

    I am just starting out and I will receive my 16 chicks on June 16. You wrote a great article. I have been doing a lot of research before they arrive. I am looking forward to this new adventure. Thanks for sharing and the chance to win!

  36. Danielle Cade says:

    7. I don’t love that I have to keep the four babies separated from the 3 adults. I wish they all could just get along.

  37. Rosemary Edgar says:

    I have about 40 hens, 2 roosters, and 4 ducks, also 16 freedom ranger chicks and a dozen wellsumer (brand new variety for me). I love my chickens and really appreciate your posts about poultry.

  38. Elisabeth says:

    I don’t have any yet, but hope to soon. I like watching my friend’s hens peck around her yard.

  39. Debbie D. says:

    My current flock is 23 strong, but we have one setting, so we will be growing soon. I love my chickens. I love watching them in my yard and enjoy seeing the different personalities interact. They are so funny. Oh, and of course, I LOVE the eggs my girls give me.

  40. I love, love my hens! It’s so fun to watch them scratching around, or chasing each other if one thinks another has found something fun. Alas, my ladies are getting older and it’s time for some babies to enter the scene! thanks for the fantastic giveaway!

  41. Desiree Gabel says:

    I don’t have a flock yet. I am hoping I can get one up and going soon and I hope on having 3 or 3. It’s mostly a matter of all the materials and startup that I haven’t gotten one going yet.

  42. I have 4 chickens now that are 3 years old. I will be getting 4 chicks to add to my flock since the older ones are laying only 1 egg a day. I live in a typical suburban home and let my chickens free range around the back yard but also provide both organic and regular chicken feed. They rarely eat the regular feed but instead hang around the patio door hoping for the organic version. They know what’s good for them!

  43. Kelli Sexton says:

    Great article! Super helpful for a newbie like me. We have 6 chicks living in our bathtub while my husband builds our chicken castle! We have 1 New Hampshire Red, 1 Silver Wyandotte, 2 Amauracanas, 1 white rock, and 1 mystery chick (I think she’s a Wheaten Amauracana). So far, what I love most, is seeing my 3 boys watch them grow and help take care of them. We live in a residential urban neighborhood in Richmond Virginia and are so excited to have a backyard flock!

  44. Rina Myers says:

    I like a small flock, about 10 layers, with just enough eggs for hubby and I, a few to share now and then. I have tried chicken tractors, and free range and found we don’t get tractors moved enough, especially in winter. Free range drove me crazy with all the extra work as chickens envariably got into my garden , messed up mulch and undid compost piles. Now I have a stationary coop and run, DRY!, and take lots of weeds, herbs, worms and scraps to them. They get organic layer, grit, and sprouted grains and eggshell/oystershell, plus all I mentioned above.

  45. My flock is TBD, but my coop is ready to be picked up! I just need to get the right amount of people to get an order placed, because the minimum order of 25 chicks is too much for me to handle the first go-round….

  46. I have 6 hens and a rooster. I love having fresh eggs and the free pest control. I really wish they would clean up after themselves. I have to sweep the sidewalk a lot when they are foraging. Our red clay turns the concrete a nice pink color my husband doesn’t find amusing :)

  47. I’ve ordered six chicks, but none of them have arrived yet =( I’m starting to get anxious!!! I am a little worried, though, that six chicks might be too many for a beginner.

  48. Caryn Jennings says:

    I have 4 chicks that are a week old today. There are 2 Rhode Island Reds and two Ameracaunas. I love watching them grow so quickly, they are so cute!
    Right now the only part I don’t like is all the decisions about how to make the perfect coop and run for them and getting it ready in time for them to move in to it!

  49. I’ve been wanting to grow chickens for years! Is it worth it to have a worm bin just to feed them?

  50. We are right in the planning stages of starting our own flock at home! I just secured a chicken coop, and we are in the chick-planning stage now! Very excited :-)

  51. We have 6 month -old chicks and we are in the process of reinforcing the coop to full fortress status (lost 3 chickens last year to raccoons). My favorite part about the chickens is that they don’t bark!

  52. We currently have 3 chickens but I think with our next round we’ll get 4 (the max allowed in our city), with 3, there are often 2 playing favorites with each other against the other 1. I’m hoping that having an even number will balance it out a little better even with the pecking order.

  53. Glad to read this, and I think you are quite right. Your Blog last April “You should absolutely not…”was what got me thinking about the chicks this year. I thought that I could handle the farm aspects, and make that careful balance between farm animal and pet. I learned from some friends that there is a farm auction in Enumclaw and that is a place to sell chickens if you cannot slaughter yourself. Even the Farm families say they choose carefully when to slaughter and how to discuss. I am already charmed by the personalities and the politics. I want my coop to be high enough that I can look in from my kitchen window…and I hope to have a red lamp in there into perpetuity so the noise is kept to a minimum. My Doc told me that the reason they get noisy before we perceive the dawn is that they see ultra red light as wake then. All in all, I hope we continue our journey with chicks…What a fabulous lesson in being gentle with fragile creatures. I loved your tip about sand in the laying area. It fueled my imagination about the chickens, and so one of them got a dinosaur name (“Ridgeback”), and I began to think of them as lizards. My coop will be quite a novelty because of this research and all this thinking. I got a little scared, and my husband was not ready for a new pet (s), so we re-housed our babies with a local farm woman who is teaching all of these to us. Our chicks are still alive despite our innocence, and because of her hard learning over 20 years. I love your blog and when we do get chicks at our home, (or reclaim these that went to the farm,) I will use you as a resource for fun, especially in feeding them yoghurt! Funny. Still, my kids had better develop more respect! Tiny bones, tiny necks, not to be toyed with. Cold blooded, no oil from Momma to protect against wet and cold, no bacteria in gut, poor babies. I am so in love with them, though. I am heartsick that they are not under my roof. I am so tempted to get another little group…so feed would be a wonderful lynchpin. I really wish that I could use a broody hen like you did…maybe a savvy reader will remember that I wrote this and send over a broody hen to me. Because although I loved the cheeping sounds at night, the little ones kept all of us awake, especially my husband, who has set work hours. And so now we focus on the challenge of/ skills to build a better coop, and try to make visits each day to “our” chicks. Bittersweet. They will become a functional part of a Cougar Mountain farm next Autumn if I cannot get this all put back to together before the end of May when the grange stops carrying the chicks. Wish us luck. :-)

  54. I have 6 chickens, and we LOVE having the fresh eggs!

    Thanks for the chance to win! :)

  55. I have 8 hens (two are banties: an Americana and a d’uckle, two LF RIR, one old red star, one old Barred rock, one welsummer, one austrlolop) and two muscovy ducks. They are all free ranging around my yard and go into a secure coop at night. I love these guys but I would love to add more color to the flock with new baby chicks! Maybe a BCM Maran and a polish, or a Swedish flower, or speckled sussex, or GLW, or a lavender orpington or a barnvelder, or a ??? HELP ME!!! …Yay chick-starter is something to help out with my chicken math!

  56. My flock fluctuates quite a bit over time. I have 8 layers (2 years old) and got several adult ducks this winter (3 cross-bred hens, a cross-bred drake who will be freezer trained soon), and 3 muscovies (1 female, 2 drakes). I’m hoping to convince 1 of the muscovy males to breed with the cross-bred females for meat birds, and they all seem to be inclined to cooperate. Last fall I raised 40 meat chicks for the freezer/to can (I shared with a friend), and the year before I raised turkeys. I really enjoy having the birds around; they are all very different. The eggs are wonderful! I think my least favorite is dealing with unexpected losses. I had a juvenile red-tail hawk practice hunting on my chickens until I set up a visual barrier.

  57. Ummm…a bird addiction has swept our farm. We had 16 chickens until this spring. Since the beginning of March, we have added 17 more chicks, 14 turkey poults, and 3 more Muscovy ducks. This brings the total to 33 chickens, 7 ducks and 14 turkeys plus two wild Mallards that have taken to living at the pond too!

    I love the diversity of birds and entertainment. No TV? No problem! It has been fun over the past two weeks to learn about turkeys and see how their personalities differ from the chickens’. Don’t love how we try to feed the different aged and kinds of birds different foods and they all steal from each other. Also dislike all the poo on the porch…but love them free-ranging all day!

  58. Thank You for all the awesome giveaways!! GOOD LUCK TO EVERYBODY

  59. I am expecting four chicks (Buff Orpington) at the end of May. Yay! I’m so excited to care for my first little clutch. We just finished the hen house today and will start on the run tomorrow. Thanks for the opportunity for a great start.

  60. mary Hall says:

    I have three chicks. Not a lot, but it’s working for me. I love everything about them! They have much more personality as I ever could have imagined.

  61. Cheri Dickerson says:

    We just started raising chickens– 10, so far. We have 2 buffs and 4 Ameracuanas (the pullets). We also bought 4 Cochins from our 4-H leader. I love watching the littles learn from the bigs– I do not like the idea of the rooster fertilizing all of my eggs :/

  62. katherine says:

    I have 7 chicks and am loving it so far!

  63. Chickens are, in my opinion, the funniest little things to watch! Our goats and cats think so too and enjoy chasing the hens just to see them run away. Jerry, our rooster, provides excellent protection over his clan of 20 ladies all of which make up six or seven different kinds of chickens. They produce beautiful multicolored eggs.
    I’m currently learning more about natural care of all our animals, but chickens and turkeys are my current venture being chick season and all. We feed our adult ladies organic grains from our farm but it is the little guys I’m concerned about. We would like to start them on a nutritional feed minus the unnecessary additives. It is difficult to find such feed local to us and I’m interested in learning to make our own.
    Thank you for providing useful and interesting information about all the best things in life!

  64. Ceely King says:

    So. I started out with 12, what I believe to be New Hampshire Reds. Got a beautiful rooster out that batch. *wink* One expired, got a replacement, which turned out to be a white silkie rooster, raised with the other one became best friends. Then my flock got decimated by a dog who got into the pen. Replaced with 12 more leghorns (I think, they are white, LOL) Since we lost both roosters and I had an interest in meat birds, I bought six unknown white chicks and six meat chicks. Made a decision to buy 12 more…. Then my hubby just walked around the pens and said: Give me six of those. And give me six of those.” It is his effort to get another rooster. LOL So to answer the question: I love my girls, but HATE to clean… And love the eggs that they give. So I guess it balances out.

  65. Heather P says:

    New farm, new coop, 24 new laying hen chicks! I feel like the biggest mother hen of them all and am probably hovering a bit much but so far so good.

  66. Emily Delaney says:

    My flock of 8 will arrive in about 3 weeks. I’m extremely excited to have my first chickens. I am hoping 8 will be enough to keep my egg-hungry family of 6 fed most of the year. In January, I took care of a friends flock of about 25 – 30 chickens for 2 weeks. While it was fun, that was too many chickens for me. I was collecting at least a dozen eggs a day!

  67. We have 6 ladies from last year and 4 new babies this year. Seems just about right!

  68. so many chicks so little space :(

  69. We have 5 layers (RIP Cinnamon – sour crop) and 2 Cornish crosses (man are they fat and a little gross!). The flock is the perfect size to provide us with enough eggs for our 3-person family and to share with friends and family. Some people bring a bottle of wine as a hostess gift – we bring a dozen eggs.

  70. I have 9 bantam chicks and one yellow baby duck. The bantams stay small and so will be cute babies always. The duck will wander the yard and rid me of slugs! What could be better. Kathie

  71. We have 8 new chicks between 3 and 6 weeks old. We bought them from a local backyard hatchery which is why they are different ages. I would love to win some quality food for them. I wish I had a local source for non-GMO chicken food here in NC.

  72. I currently have a flock of 3 hens but am looking to, at least, double that this year. There’s not much to complain about with such a tiny flock. So, I guess my complaint would be that I don’t have enough chickens! What I love about having such a tiny flock is that I know exactly which egg comes from which of my girls.

  73. Kimberly says:

    We have 3 chicks as a 4-H project. We have one Polish and 2 Ameraucanas. We just love them. They are so entertaining!

  74. We just got our first chicks yesterday! Three speckled Sussex chicks.

  75. I am brand new to the whole chicken experience, but my cute little 1 week old babies have stolen my heart! I have 5 baby chicks that seem to be growing bigger by the minute. So far I love just watching them jump around and then suddenly plop down and sleep…

  76. 5 chickens since 2012. It’s a nice-sized flock for a small Seattle yard except that there’s one mean chicken who bullies 2 lower on the totem pole. If they had a proper farm, she might not do that…

  77. Lisa C says:

    Last week we received 75 mixed flock layers…. Love them!! I started my journey researching chickens a year an a half ago, not its finally a reality.

  78. Tracy S. says:

    This is our first year with chicks . We have 5, but I suspect one may be a rooster. Growing up in NY , but now living in rural WA state, I feel a little like I am in over my head but wanting so desperately to live a better lifestyle. I want my children to grow up understanding more about how we can actually impact what we eat by raising chickens that lay eggs and by planting a vegetable garden. It is going to be a great experience. We all got to make the coop and decide how to keep them safe and happy. I can’t wait until they start laying eggs!

  79. Laura Bramwell says:

    This is my first time owning chickens and I decided to start with four chicks. I am raising them in the garage until they are old enough to go into a coop. This last weekend with the nice weather I let them outside in a run for a few hours while I was gardening. They had a blast! I even raided my worm composting bin and sacrificed several tasty wigglers which they went nuts over! It was like an old Tom and Jerry cartoon with one chick picking up the worm, then running to the other side of the run while the others chased her, then another chick would steal the worm and they ran to the other side, and so on until the worms were gone.
    Chicks are such “cheep” entertainment!

  80. Deanna vincecruz says:

    I love your info on everything thank you so much, now I got that out, we are getting 40 broilers and 2 turkey’s like last year, what I like is know that our organic fresh chicken meat was genuinely and lovingly cared for and had a good life, and my children ( who all have different allergies and conditions) are better for it. What I don’t like is if they die when they are little (that was the only time we lost any) and the mess of the backyard, but my kids love them to and are growing up with better skills then I ever had at that age and beyond.

  81. Kathy Yaconis says:

    My daughter and I are building a chicken coop this weekend. Next will come the baby chicks!!
    Could really use the starter kit to get us started on the right track! Thank You!! Kathy

  82. Elizabeth says:

    I’m about to start my first flock. I’ve got the plans and the supplies to start framing my Garden Coop this weekend. Chicks will soon follow! I was thrilled to find your old posts on your experience with the same coop. I plan to start my flock with 4-6 girls, and slowly build up.

  83. My 8 chicks arrived Tuesday! 2 each of Black Australorp, Rhode Island Red, Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, and Speckled Sussex!

  84. We haven’t started our flock yet, but are planning on bringing home 6-8 chicks soon. We just bought our first home, and are so excited about growing our little homestead! I already know my favorite part about chickens will be watching our 1 and a half year old daughter interact with them (and eggs, duh!), but I am a little worried about socializing them with our two dogs.

  85. Jennifer Knoetgen says:

    We have six hens that will be culled this fall.
    Ten layer pullets to replace them.
    Twenty-five Red Ranger Broiler chicks that are thriving. After 10 years of growing a few Cornish-crosses for meat each year, we are excited to try raising a foraging, “real” chicken.
    Our biggest trouble is the wild birds that come in to our coopr via the chicken yard and eat the food, poop in the water, poop everywhere and generally gross me out…. Help?

  86. Jenny Loeb says:

    We had 5 chickens that we were sitting for a local camp for the winter. We just gave them back and plan to get chicks so we can totally use the Chick Starter Kit! I liked having 5 – easy to manage and almost enough eggs to feed my family. :-) But I think this time we are going to get 10 – it feels like just a little bit more work for twice as many eggs.

  87. Elizabeth Donohoe says:

    Erica…John at the Garden Coop pointed me in your direction about the sand in the coop, and I’m wondering how that’s worked out two years on? I’m starting a flock as soon as I assemble the Garden Coop this month (would love the Starter Kit!), and am at a place to decide how to build it right now: For sand or litter? Did you need to reinforce the floor for the heavier-than-bedding sand, by the way? Thank you in advance.

  88. Carissa says:

    Our layer flock is 11 hens and 1 rooster, but we get a couple hundred meat birds a year and sell most of them. Would love to win the starter kit! My favorite part about chickens is being able to feed them bugs, grasshoppers and slugs from the garden. I hate killing those pests myself, but don’t mind providing them as a tasty treat to my girls!!

  89. Becky Jacobs says:

    We just received 26 Barred Rock pullets. It is our first time to raise chicks. How fun they are. We are all getting used to one another. They each have their own personality. We like the way they wear out so quick and need a nap. Just like real babies.

  90. Brenda says:

    I don’t have chickens–yet!

  91. Phyllis says:

    Eight hens and a rooster that have grown out of a batch of juvenile delinquent chicks who refused to come out from underneath an old picnic table at their former home. A few are part Araucana, so we get green, blue, brown, and ivory eggs. Next venture is French Guineas; 30 to arrive in June!

  92. Jenn Rodgers says:

    I’m a brand new mama to my chickies which will arrive on May 29th. I’ve been reading and preparing and just about burst anytime I think about getting them. My two boys, 2 and 4 don’t really grasp that we are going to have our own chickens, for now they visit the neighbors chickens with such regularity I just know they will be great little chicken’ers.

  93. Kathy Karch says:

    Great blog post. We have a flock of 18 hens (8 of which are just 5 weeks old). We just moved the little girls out into their “grow out” coop, which used to be a grazing pen/hutch for our meat rabbits. Our ten older gals (as well call them) reside in their “castle,” a home build coop. They have an 80 sqft fully enclosed “inner bailey” that we can keep them in when we have to leave for a day to protect them from predators while we’re gone, but they spend most of their time in the “outer bailey” a 400 sqft area fenced off with 3ft high chicken wire. Our elevated rabbit hutches reside within the outer bailey as well. What do I love about our chickens? SO MUCH! They are beautiful and funny and when I’m stressed I’ll sit in the outer bailey with them and sip tea and watch them just be themselves. They rake out the poop/pee/hay mixture that collects under our rabbits and transform it into fabulous, fertilizing mulch for our garden as they search for worms and bugs. They give us incredible eggs that we can feel good about eating on multiple levels. Our hens are a talking point and a curiosity in our neighborhood. People ask about them and they bring their children over to see them (sometimes the grown-up’s just show up w/o any children in tow). My hens are educators. They’re teaching my children (and others in our neighborhood) about food and farming, and they’re getting people to rethink their stress-filled, break-necked paced, consumer driven lives. My hens are community builders. Okay, enough with this, I need to go brew some tea and go spend some quality time with my flock! :))

  94. I currently have 15, 3 of them are roosters as i have an incubator. I just got a set of California Leghorns that I would love to hatch in my incubator, but they are still adjusting. My flock is separated into three groups as I want pure Leghorns, and the “babies” from last year were getting picked for the 30 minutes they were in with the big girls. I had a set hatched with a broody hen last year, that was awesome but instead of the 9 she collected only 3 hatched. I feed them the Layena layer pellets, when I have chicks they get a few scraps and chick feed. I love my girls, they are so fun to watch. Love your website and follow you. I’m in Oregon so I found you by needing NW gardening advice.

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