FAQ: Baby Chick Care

Getting started with baby chicks? Robert Plamondon, author of Success With Baby Chicks, tells you what you need to know.

1. How should I brood day-old chicks?

For a complete list of steps, see my baby chick checklist.

Baby chicks in their mailing boxBaby chicks need an external source of heat. Naturally brooded chicks are warmed by nestling against their mothers. Groups of chicks can maintain body heat by huddling together, which is why day-old chicks can be shipped by mail.

People brooding fewer than 1,000 chicks at once generally use electric brooders.

Large commerical poultry operations generally use big propane brooders with a central brooder and a metal canopy, or hover, that retains the heat. Each brooder handles up 1,000 or more chicks. read more...

Chicken FAQ: Managing Your Roosters

My rooster is attacking people. What do I do?

Kid 0, Rooster 1The first thing to do is to ask yourself, “Am I smarter than a rooster?”

Most people aren’t. They let the rooster take charge. If the rooster decides it’s time to have a fight, you fight. You don’t question his decision, just his judgment: “He’s crazy: I’m the one who’s going to win!” But you’re not making the decisions—he is. You’re taking orders from a chicken!

Luckily, if you follow my program, you can become smarter than a rooster. Learn how, right now. read more...

FAQ: Should You Put Dropping Boards Under Your Roosts?

What is a dropping board? It’s a board you place under the chicken roosts, where it collects manure and smells bad.

Why would use use a dropping board? Well, there are some things in favor of them. But it also seems to be one of those 19th century poultrykeeping ideas that hang on mostly by tradition.

Disadvantages of Dropping Boards

Fresh-Air Poultry Houses
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Other Options.

In Fresh-Air Poultry Houses, Dr. Woods wrote the following:

Recently I was in a plaster-finished closed-type poultry house where the dropping boards are scraped clean daily and sprinkled with earth. The house was decidedly smelly, though apparently clean. The manure-saturated wood of the dropping board, which has been treated frequently with disinfectants, contributed largely to the stench. I would not want a house like that and would find it unpleasant to work in one, but it seemed to suit the owner, and as he appeared so well satisfied I made no comment. read more...

Your Chickens in August [Newsletter]

News from the Farm

The blackberries are coming ripe. The weather has been alternating between mild to hot, but not hot enough for me to yearn for air conditioning. The pasture is getting browner than I’d like, which soon will cause our egg yolks to fade from orange to yellow if we don’t get some rain (and we probably won’t until mid-September).

The tractor is still in the shop. The ice machine broke. There’s always something.

Roost mites are giving my hens some trouble. I’m painting their roosts with oil. This lasts a long time and smothers the mites. Even if the roosts seem dry on the surface, because the oil soaks in, capillary action seems to keep the cracks and crevices in the wood damp with oil, and that’s where the mites hang out. But only once. This time around I’m trying used gear oil for the purpose. Any non-drying oil that’s not weirdly toxic will do, but I prefer indigestible oils (petroleum based oils) because they don’t attract mold or critters with the munchies, the way fry oil might. Usually this treatment lasts for months. read more...

The Cure for Culling Male Chicks?

beth_and_baby_chicks_smIn a world where egg-type chickens such as White Leghorns are valued only for their egg production, and there are very few people who want a White Leghorn cockerel for Sunday dinner, what happens to all the male baby chicks? An article in The New Food Economy called The Cure for Culling explains both the problem and a promising new cure: in-shell sexing.

One of the authors, Harry DiPrinzio, contacted me for my take on the issues here, and in particular a spiffy new technology that can tell the gender of a chicken embryo fairly early in its development. read more...