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Day old chicks or POL?

(13 Posts)
SimLondon Wed 26-Feb-14 21:36:44

So im looking to get a few 3/4 more hens and am wondering whether to go for POL - easy to look after, easy to gradually introduce to existing 3 - can live outdoors next to existing hens etc etc

Or cute fluffy day old chicks that the toddler will like? and keep them apart from the others for 4/5 months. How many breeds have autosexing chicks? How long before day old chicks can live outside? or does it depend on the time of year / outdoor temp?

many thanks :-)

cazzybabs Wed 26-Feb-14 21:39:40

day old chicks may turn out to be cockerels

MisForMumNotMaid Wed 26-Feb-14 21:42:38

Or go for a mother hen with chicks at foot. Or buy an incubator and some eggs.

Legbars are an attractive sex at hatching breed. Nice blue eggs too.

Faverolles Wed 26-Feb-14 21:43:32

I would go for POL personally.
Far more straightforward and less likely to be distressing for dc.

The normal brown hybrids are auto sexing, and some (but not many) main hatcheries will sell small numbers.
Cream legbars are auto sexing. Some others are, but I think they tend to be obscure crosses.
RIR x LS are auto sexing.

Chicks need heat for the first few weeks then gradually out as they feather up. They are lovely to have, but it is upsetting if something goes wrong.

Faverolles Wed 26-Feb-14 21:44:59

Only go for a mother with chicks if you're prepared to deal with at least 50% being cockerels.
I hatched out over 30 last year and only had 6 girls!

polkadotdelight Wed 26-Feb-14 21:45:23

Cuckoo maran bantams are autosexed. You could choose pullets and have middle ground?

Bramblesinforrin Wed 26-Feb-14 22:13:28

Pol. Day old chicks need special care and equipment.

SimLondon Wed 26-Feb-14 23:03:09

Thanks - i was thinking of cream legbars - i've had cream legbar crossed with something hybrids before. I've also had a maran before and it never laid and bullied the others so although i like the idea of the darker eggs im a bit put off marans.

So i could get autosexed day old girls - actually I could live with one or possibly two boys if a mistake happened, but Faverolles! 6 girls in 30 - how?

And they would have to start off indoors underheat and gradually go outdoors and in 5 or 6 months have a careful introduction to the others.

The other thing is - i have a very stupid cat, he is not a threat - in fact only yesterday he showed no interest in a baby field mouse, but if the chicks caught the odd glimpse of him would it be very stressful for them?

Bramblesinforrin Thu 27-Feb-14 08:17:15

We hatched under broodies and had two cats. Also had a 60% male hatch! but as most of the chicks then went to my friend's hill farm that was ok as no cockerels then roaming our garden crowing at all hours!

We kept the chicks well away from the cat and the broody would have attacked anything.

My friend hatched chicks in an incubator and kept them under a lamp but in something like a hamster cage so that the cat couldn't get in at them.

Bramblesinforrin Thu 27-Feb-14 08:18:02

Once our chicks left their mum, we had to watch out for the local buzzards and strays - they had a separate Eglu and run in our garden, so we're protected from predators.

MisForMumNotMaid Thu 27-Feb-14 14:58:47

As a brooder I've used a giant box with a chicken wire/ mesh sheet lid and a red 60w light bulb on one of those 99p light fitting diy clamp things you get in the bargain stores. I've done this for quail, ducks and chicks. I used to use cardboard but eventually got a giant ikea plastic storage box on wheels from bargain corner. I've gone on to use a playpen with chicken wire wrapped around it in a shed for the ducks when we had late snow and they had the bulb on at night.

They will be fully feathered by about six weeks and if its mild can be outside in the daytime, and if its summer overnight.

I found the best way to introduce was to put the young birds in a small pen within the free range area of the older girls. After about a week i'd let the young girls out free range for a few hours to familiarise themselves with the space then let the older ones out. As pecking order establishment needs to happen I usually go for adding a handful of spring greens into the
run.

SimLondon Thu 27-Feb-14 20:39:03

Thankyou very much MisForMumNotMaid - so i don't need to spend a lot on equipment, and with autosexing chicks (barring the odd mistake) I could be ok :-)

MisForMumNotMaid Thu 27-Feb-14 20:55:31

I should mention that I've kept the box in the house. A 60w bulb for day olds in a shed at this time of year wouldn't be enough.

If you watch youtube and look at DIY brooders you'll see how the chicks are very good at telling you if they're warm enough. They all huddle if they're too cold. You can just fix the bulb closer down to them, for quails because they're so much smaller i fixed the bulb clip initially on a smaller box on its side within the bigger box.

If you search on ebay you can see the very DIY brooder packages people put together that you could do just as well yourself.

Theres lots of ideas for using a slit cut out of a juice bottle as an early drinker rather than buying a chick drinker.

If you get the bug for having baby birds in your kitchen hatching out quail is great fun. There is always demand for the male birds as people with aviaries use them to eat spilt seed on the cage floor so you can sell them for a nominal amount and keep the girls for eggs.

My favourite is definitely hatching ducklings though. Ducks look at you as they hatch with these enormous eyes from under a wet mop of feathers. They have a funny tooth on their beak that they use to pip (chip their way out the shell).

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