Now is your chance because it’s chick season!
Welcome Spring (almost)!…and welcome spring chickens! The chicken fad is actually a thing. If you are reading this article and do not already have a chicken coop, chances are, you’re interested in getting one. You are not alone. Indeed chicken coop production is on the rise.
Perhaps it is a nod to the organic and holistic health movement and the draw to having your own fresh eggs. Maybe you always dreamed of having a farm and having a coop is one little way of feeling closer to that goal. Or maybe you (or your children) just think those little baby chicks are so cute. Whatever the reason, owning a chicken coop is no small task; here are some tips for the novice chicken owner.
Is It Allowed?
Care and upkeep for raising chickens must be carefully considered before accepting the responsibility. But first, are chickens allowed where you live? Check the ordinances of your area and if you have a homeowner’s associations make sure the bylaws allow a coop. Some may just ban roosters because of they can be quite noisy and some put a limit on the amount of chickens you may have. Once you are certain you are in the clear you are free to start the prep work.
Bringing Up Baby
When bringing a baby chick home, you will need to keep it in an enclosed location, where they can get acclimated to your home and away from their mother hen. Using a brooder like THIS is an easy way to keep them warm, they should stay in the warmth until they are fully feathered which is typically around 8 weeks of age. You will need a nesting fill to line the box, fresh water and a suitable watering device and a nutrient enriched food for baby chicks.
Pick Your Chick
We live in quite a rural area with a lot of local farms and ranches with lots of room for chicks. The local feed stores carry chicks only in early Spring. It is no surprise then that once the chicken shipment comes in, they go fast! These are not incredibly expensive animals, and many of our local stores get them in only once a week so contact your local store (listed at the bottom of this article), ask when they will arrive and get there early.
Most of the local stores will stock chicks that are good for the climate here, but there are many sorts to choose from! From great egg layers to ones that lay multi-colored eggs (called Easter Eggers), not all chicks are created equal. Some breeds can also tend to be skittish and may be more of a challenge. Also, if hens are what you are looking for, make sure your source is reputable and knowledgeable enough to ensure you are getting what you expect. Getting a surprise rooster is more common than you might think!
The chicks should be healthy enough to move into their permanent home in about six weeks. There are so many great chicken coops online like THIS one. You can find plans to build your own, or buy one with basic assembly. If you purchase online make sure you’ve read reviews. Also, do your research on the ideal size for the amount of chickens you want to raise. The perfect coop will have an outdoor and indoor area, the indoor space should have nesting boxes and a small side door by the boxes to take out eggs.
Protect the Flock
You’re sweet little chicken coop may become a beacon for local predators. Don’t be surprised to find “a fox in the hen house” or just wake up to find your sweet foul mutilated by a bored raccoon. Take precautions before this happens. Raccoon are surprisingly smart and can figure out a simple slide lock. Clearly chicken wire is a great deterrent from those pests, but you have to remember to lock them up at night if you like to let your chickens roam free, as these are prime hunting hours.
You’re egg layers should start producing in about six months. Some do not lay in the winter, but in the Texas climate that may not be an issue. You can urge the egg laying in your designated nesting boxes by placing a fake egg in the box. Once they start laying expect about an egg a day per chicken. A chicken that is watered and fed daily, and kept happy and healthy will have the most reliable egg production.
Locally there are several farm supply and feed stores that sell baby chicks this time of year. Just in time for Easter, you can surprise you’re little ones with a sweet baby chick peeping out from their Easter basket!
These Bulverde/Spring Branch, Texas locations sell baby chicks annually every spring.
4888 US Hwy 281 N.
Spring Branch, TX 78070
Bulverde Feed & Seed
29110 US Hwy 281 North
Bulverde, TX 78163
33701 Hwy 281 North
Bulverde, TX 78163
Spring Creek Gardens
11355 US Hwy 281 North
Spring Branch, TX 78070
**Online hatcheries can provide chickens at any time of year.
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