Thinking About Chicks

I’ve spent a good part of my life thinking about chicks — by which, for the moment at least, I mean “baby chickens.” It’s just about the new year, which means that hatchery catalogs will start arriving in the mailbox any day now.

One thing I’ve been doing over the last few years is popularizing the insulated electric lamp brooder developed by the Ohio Experiment Station in the Forties. I have their paper on it here, and I devote two chapters to it in my book, Success With Baby Chicks. It’s done us proud over the years and I routinely get fan mail about the design. Check it out. Your chicks will be warmer and you’ll use less electricity, and the whole shebang only takes a couple of hours to knock together.

Another trick I’m fond of is using the little quart-jar waterers, but with narrow-mouth glass canning jars instead of the horrible plastic jars the feed store wants to sell you. Glass jars glint like water, and you can watch the baby chicks wander over and peck at the glass a couple of times before finding the actual water. Also, the plastic jars are hard to clean, and they’re not clear enough to see when they’ve gone empty. Just buy the bases and leave the plastic jars alone.

I don’t like bigger waterers (gallon waterers, say), because they have too much water area and day old chicks get soaked, then chilled. The quart-jar waterers are tiny enough that this pretty much doesn’t happen.

If you’re wondering about what kind of breed to buy, try one of the brown-egg commercial hybrids if you haven’t already. Not only do they lay a lot more eggs, but they do this largely by laying in the off-season. If you’ve found yourself having to buy eggs at the store in the fall and winter, a handful of commercial layers should fix this. My personal favorite is the Red Sex-Link from Privett Hatchery in Portales, NM. They are just about as docile as Barred Rocks but lay a lot better.

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Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Author: Robert Plamondon

Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

1 thought on “Thinking About Chicks”

  1. while my brooding technique differs i am a fan of the glass quarts. all of my bases are antique metal ones obtained from a neighbor and various sales. they are quite easy to clean and seem to last a lifetime or two. i agree with this post completely other than choice of chicks. my personal preference has leaned toward black australorps over the last several years. my experience is they are very hardy through heat and cold lay well year round are good foragers and are a good looking chicken. in the warmer months very little supplemental grain is used, i have to watch or it just lays around. i tried layer mash in winter they would not touch it at all. my girls will follow me around like the dog does and so far all cocks have been well mannered.

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