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Should we get chicks?

(3 Posts)
slipperandpjsmum Fri 29-Jul-11 10:03:00

We have been thinking about getting chickens for a while now. We have always thought we would get POL. However, my dds friend keeps chickens and have offered her some chicks. We are not sure what to do. Apart from the problem of what if there is a male amongst them we are not sure how to look after chicks??? We have done a How to look your after Chicken course but chicks were never mentioned.

Of course my dd is desperate that we get the chicks, she has held them, made her selection etc but I am not so sure!!!

MrsDanverclone Fri 29-Jul-11 11:38:41

We got our chicks at a day old, this year was our first year of raising chicks although I have kept chickens for years.
You will need a brooder ( heat lamp/ source of constant temp heat )
A water container that they can't drowned in, as they have a death wish when they are chicks. We used a little plastic dish at first, with pebbles in, before switching to a small hen water container.
At first I used to sprinkle the chick crumb in one area, till they were able to peck effectively, then changing to a bowl they would tip up or poo in.
We kept ours in a large plastic storage box, in the house for the first few weeks. The brooder needs to be on constantly, as they need the heat.
I lined the box with a thin layer of sawdust, then newspaper, then kitchen roll. You have to be very careful that they are not on a surface that is slippy, as they can suffer splayed leg very easily, then be unable to stand and support their body weight. ( Although if treated when they are a day or two old can be cured, googling spayed legs, after getting home with 2 splayed legged bantam chicks. A bit of bondage for a couple of days, means now they can charge around the garden.)
The first few weeks they are quite high maintenance, as I had to change the box lining several times a day, as they poo loads and stink. Plus topping up water and food constantly.
You have to check in the first few days that the sticky poo isn't setting like cement around their bum, it can act like a cork. So I became quite a dab hand with the cotton buds, cooled boiled water and cleaning a chick's bum, plus gently blowing dry a chick's bum was quite a new experience for me.
They are lovely and cute as chicks and my children really enjoyed the small cute stage, which only lasts a few weeks really.

The advantage to POL hens is you know they are all female, so your daughter can name them, without the worry that you are going to have to kill 'Hetty' when she/he turns out to be a cockerel. The horrible fact of life about keeping hens, is that you need to know how to kill a hen effectively, in case of fox attacks and such like.
POL should already be vaccinated. They are easier to look after for first time hen owners and after a couple of weeks of settling in, should start laying eggs.

I hope my ramblings help with your decision, I love my hens and they are such funny characters. Even though they have taken over our back garden, I wouldn't be without my moving garden ornaments. smile

mummymeister Fri 29-Jul-11 20:29:01

Chicks are quite a lot more work and effort than POL's. if this is your first time keeping chickens i would say go for POL's or ex battery to start with. Our chicks go in a high sided wooden box in the kitchen with a heat lamp over and a removable plastic tray underneath. we line the tray with a whole newspaper, change it every day and have a lamp suspended above it which we move up every week. at about 5 weeks we only put the lamp on at night and then at 6 weeks leave the lamp off all the time for a week. only then are they ready to go outside. we also have a net on top as ours try to fly out. remember also that many more boys hatch than girls so from a brood of say 6 at least 4 will be boys. we once had a brood of 10 all cockerels! How will your daughter feel then if they have to go away and you could be left with only 1 or 2 chickens. don't go for chicks start with POL's and tell her the truth why - ie what happens to boys!

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