Our family is now the proud owners of 4 cute chicks. Raising chicks was a huge decision for our family, in fact, I told my husband “Absolutely Not!” when he first mentioned it to me. After much thought, and encouragement from Tony, I have decided this is the next best step for our family.
As you know, I am constantly trying to lead a more frugal life. From always working on a DIY rather than buying something at the store, constantly shopping the thrift stores for my son's next seasonal clothes, to finding the best way to save on groceries, it just made sense to start this journey. Here are some of the reasons why we are now proud chicken owners:
- Compared to other pets, chickens are easy and inexpensive to maintain
- We will be able to enjoy our hard work by having our own supply of fresh eggs
- It will provide great fertilizer for our gardening journey, and allow us to really start eating from our own backyard
- It will allow us to teach our son the benefits of taking care of something
In no way am I a chicken expert, in fact, this is still a learning process for me. So I hope you come along with me as I document our journey into backyard chickens and why we took this step to teach our son valuable lessons, and hopefully produce our own eggs.
WHAT WE NEEDED TO GET STARTED & THE COST (Total = $76.45)
- Chick Brooder – Free
- Flooring – pine shavings OR corn cob bedding (Do NOT use newspaper) – $26.99
- Heat Lamp – For the first week your chicks need 90-100 degrees, and you can decrease the temperature by 5 degrees every week after – $10.99 (+ bulb $5.99)
- Food – chick crumbles / starter feed – $13.49
- Water – try to find a chick waterer but you can also make your own homemade one…see some possibilities here – $6.99
OUR CHICK BREEDS
We purchased our chicks from North 40 which is an outdoor store located in WA, MT, & ID. My husband, with the help of our son, picked out two different breeds of chicks.
Gold Sexlink – These have a funny name, but are supposed to be the best egg producers. They lay large brown eggs and can produce up to 250+ eggs a year. You can tell the sex of the bird just by looking at it, which we liked. The female chicks will be streaked with red or gold, and the male chicks will be solid white. Apparently, they are very gentle birds and grow fast. My son loved these because they were the fluffiest of the two.
Australorp – These are an Australian breed that are meant for one thing – laying eggs. They are calm birds that lay light brown eggs. These are my favorite, and I love their color. Right now as chicks, they have big black areas with a small amount of yellow. As they get older, they will be all black with hues of green and purple that are noticeable in the sunlight. They make for a perfect pet chicken which is great for my son.
WHAT WE ARE DOING TO TAKE CARE OF OUR CHICKS
We are making sure to keep the proper temperature in the brooder, and are waiting until the chicks develop feathers. Once this happens, we can start to decrease the temperature. Making sure they have food and water close by is critical, so I am always checking to make sure they have enough food and fresh water. We clean their brooder every single day, as small chicks are prone to a condition called “pasty butt.” This is where their droppings get stuck to their bottom and clog up their vents so they can't relieve themselves. I read that if this happens, I am supposed to soak them and clear the plug. Oh man, I hope this doesn't happen:-)
My son James is involved with the chicks and helps with the responsibilities. He is currently learning how to hold them properly, and is in the process of naming them. I have heard horror stories of huge start-up costs when it comes to raising chickens, which is why I said “No way!” in the beginning. My husband is the world's best handyman, and can literally build a skyscraper from materials just lying around the house, so I have full faith that this journey will be entirely worth it!
I just had to add this picture of our cute pup Rocko. I couldn't help it:-)
Have you thought about raising backyard chickens?