GUIDE TO RAISING HEALTHY CHICKENS

There was a time in U.S. history when it was common to see poultry being raised on most farms as a source of eggs, meat, and a secondary income source. After World War II, the poultry industry began to experience very drastic changes. as production systems became larger and more specialized, poultry products became cheaper and more available to the American consumer.

There has been a resurgence in home-raised flocks, as small farms look for ways to diversify and take advance of the new marketing opportunities, as well as to engage in a rural lifestyle. 

THE DECISION

Are you contemplating raising poultry on a small scale? Whether as a hobby or as a source of food, the raising of poultry must be carefully considered and planned. 

HOUSING

As with all animals, appropriate housing must be considered. While housing for poultry need not to be new or elaborate, it should provide a clean, dry, adequately ventilated, and draft-free environment. Housing for chicks will require supplemental heat during the brooding period of 6-8 weeks (weather dependent). Housing should be able to provide space for each bird.

Layer type (pullets) should be given 1.5 (ft2)
Layer type (adult) should be given 2 (ft2)
Broiler type should be given 2-3 (ft2).

It is essential that special consideration be given during the winter months, as supplement heat may be needed for adult birds. In the warmer months windows/fan may be needed for adult birds. Litter management is also very important. There should be a litter layer at least 2-3 inches deep to help provide insulation from the cold. Keeping the house and litter dry will reduce cold-related injury and disease. The housing must also offer protection from predators. In most cases, it will be necessary to keep the birds enclosed in some sort of pen. Regular or electric fences may be used, as may small portable pens if they are moved to a new range on a regular basis. You may be able to allow the birds to range freely, but predators are often a problem in absence of some form of protection.

BROODING CHICKS

The heat source is the first piece of equipment to consider when brooding. A heat lamp with a 125 (summer) to 250 watt bulb (winter, cooler months) will accommodate as many as 50 chicks, less with lower wattage. We use and prefer our customers to use a white heat bulb versus the red unless there has been a cannibalism or pecking issue started. This allows them to see better without light reduction and forage better, improving their overall health. There are other brooding set-ups available that utilize a variety of energy sources. Choosing the best one for you and your needs is an important consideration. 


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We have created a generic chick care guide for raising day old chicks but it can be applied to most poultry. 

There are somethings you will want to have on hand prior to your chicks arrival. Some supplies would include: 1 quart waterer, 1 quart feeder, heat lamp reflector (preferably with the ceramic base), 125 watts to 250 Watts heat bulb (preferably white emitting light/heat), puppy-pee pee pads, pine shavings, vitamins and electrolytes, draft-free enclosure (such as a large tote, chicken coop, and chick starter feed.




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