I had my first hands on experience this weekend with raising chickens. My family and I ventured on down to a local feed supply store bright and early Saturday morning and came home with 4 adorable fluffy chirping chicks. The feed store was a fun place, all these big bins full of chickens, turkeys, and ducks. They were all so cute.
The week before I had all my children look online with me and pick the kind of chicken they wanted so we knew before we got there. They all went right to the breed types they chose as soon as we got there so they could pick out their chick themselves.
After we had our chosen 4 chicks nestled into a box (which the stores gave us) the kids explored around.
They LOVED the baby ducks.
I had to be strong, the baby ducks were the cutest things I had ever seen!! Seriously..But my mission was chickens only.
But we all giggled at how funny the baby turkey chicks looks. Silly bald necks! 🙂
After they finished looking we got into the car with our new baby chicks and started driving home. These little things can really chirp! I was wondering what I got myself into about 5 minutes in, because that peeping was driving me crazy. My husband was also about to turn around..but we kept on going.
15 minutes later we arrived at home, where we rushed them into a plastic tote we prepared for them. The thermometer said 90 degrees farenheight – perfect! Inside was a plastic font for water and a matching little feeder. We gently placed the babies in so they could get warmed up.
We knew we needed to dip their little beaks in the water so they would know where the water was, so we did that. Then we watched them wander around, drink the water, pick at their starter feed and fall asleep. We were gathered around and watched. I don’t think my kids left the side of that box all day.
I let the kids hold them for just a few minutes throughout the day, but not too much because I wanted them to rest and keep warm.
PS – when baby chicks fall asleep, they just crash down on the ground! Honestly they scared me a bit when they did this because it looks like they are dead, but I googled it and found that this is normal. Here is a picture of how they sleep sometimes:
After the first day we switched out the bin to a larger one we found in the garage so they have more room. Here is what our setup looks like.
WORTH THE COST FOR EGGS: NOT YET – I won’t be getting any eggs until June. But I will do an official price comparison once my hens start laying. I am guessing that it will still not be cost effective since eggs in the stores are relatively inexpensive, however these will be organic so I will be doing the math based on that.
WORTH THE TIME? YES – these baby chicks are so easy, they don’t require much time at all. Just check on food and water, and make sure they are warm.
Starting up chickens : cost me around $60 for all these items:
- Large plastic tote (free in my garage) you can also use a cardboard box!
- Pine shavings ($10)
- Heat Lamp with red light ($20)
- Waterer ($5)
- Feeder ($5)
- Thermometer ($1.00)
- Feed ($18 for a 50 lb bag – should last a few months)
- 4 baby chickens ($12)
Here are our babies – we have a Black Australorp, a Buff Orpington, an Ameraucana and a Silver Laced Wyandotte.
So it’s official folks, I am now a Chicken Farmer. 🙂 I have been spending lots of time holding them, thinking about how to keep them safe and happy. I seriously love them already and feel like their mother hen. Oh how I am dreaming of the warm summer days when these lovely chicks are all grown up and are strutting around my yard. I cannot wait for the lovely eggs they will lay for me every day. I truly am enjoying every bit of this adventure.
Any of you lovely readers get yourself some chicks yet this spring? What kinds did you bring home?
Comments & Reviews
Hi there! Not sure if you still check this old of posts but I live in Kennewick & was wondering what feed store you picked up your chicks at. We have almost half an acre & for the last 6 months I’ve talked about wanting chickens. After not getting me a gift for Christmas or my birthday (1 week after Christmas) he’s agreed (with a healthy dose of guilt) to construct a chicken coop. Anyway, thanks for all your words of wisdom!
jamie wilson says
As a stay at home mom I make it a job to make my husbands paycheck go as far as possible and chickens make all the differance. We spent a total of about $50 to get started last April and in October stopped having to buy eggs. It has finally paid for its self this month.. we have 7 easter egg Hens (araconnas) and to my children’s delight we get green blue pink and tan eggs! We love not only saving by never buying eggs now but by blessing others around us so they don’t have to buy eggs either. Chickens are a great investment if you do it diligently. I am sure plenty if people will buy them from us this spring and offset another years feed as well
Loved the pictures of the turkens! (Naked necks) I have several naked necks (good lg. Egg layers and cold weather hardy) I have sunny yellow and black ones. Soooo cute!
Yeah, can’t believe I thought they were turkeys instead of turkens! Whoops..
Yay! Glad you got some. We considered the cost when we got them last year and one thing that I thought about is how priceless it is for kids to be able to raise chickens. We now call our oldest the “chicken whisperer” because of how they act around him. Haha! Your kiddos will have so much fun gathering the eggs every day. They’re so fun though that you’ll want to add to your feathery family every year…my hubby is currently building me a bigger coop because of that. Poor guy. 🙂
I’ll be interested in hearing more chick stories. I think some payback on this chicken project is going to be education and entertainment. Thanks to all posters for their stories. I helped my parents and friends slaughter and clean few dozen birds more than 30 years ago. It cured me of wanting to raise chickens for meat, and left me eternally grateful that I can just find chicken on sale at the grocery store!
Hi Chris, I did read all about butchering them..and honestly I don’t think I could do that part of it. Gross! Well, Maybe…I am a chicken farmer now. But it wouldn’t be for a long time for me to raise them for meat, I need a lot more land. But it sounded like if you grab out the innards wrong and break a certain sac your whole bird is ruined. Scary, and gross!
Becky E in Yakima says
WELCOME TO THE CLUB:) To all of you new chick owners. FYI: Coastal Farm and Ranch and the Yakima Co-op and have “chick days” What that means is FREE chicks! Yes I said free. Here’s the info for Yakima: Co-op chick day is Saturday March 16th. Buy a 50 pound bag of feed get 4 hens or 8 meat birds free! First come first serve. Also, you can get as many birds and you guys bags of feed-no limit! (something we all can appreciate!) Coastal Farm and Ranch chick day is either March 25th or 26th-I have called twice and been told different things:( Their deal is the first 500 people in the store that day get a free chick! (That was what it was last year and their ad has not come out yet this year, but I figure it will be pretty similar) The only down side with both of these: you do not get to pick your breed of hen:(
Oh sweet, Becky! I love FREE! 🙂 And thanks, it feels good to be in the “cool” chicken club now..Ha ha!
Chickens are funny little creatures and we have really enjoyed ours. Our Americaunas have been wonderful and very mellow, so our are French Black Copper Marans. We handle them a lot as chicks and they are easy to interact with. I have had the most trouble with Rhode Islands (skittishness and illness) , but I have heard some people love them.
In Kennewick, unless they recently changed the rules, you can have 3 chickens unless your HOA says no. Even three hens can really impact egg costs, especially if you supplement them with kitchen scraps.
You don’t need to have a rooster to get eggs. They ovulate without having men around.:)
I also am loving our Ameracauna – she is so mellow!
I am excited to read these homesteading posts. And later about if having chickens is worth the cost. I don’t mind about the time. Kids need a chore anyway. We moved onto a place that already has a chicken coop. It just needs a little tlc. But I have not gotten chickens yet because I figure buying eggs in the store is cheaper than their feed. I am looking forward to see what you say.
If you are worried about them flying out. My sister who has chickens says that you can clip their wings.
Oh how awesome – you already have a coop! That I think is going to be a big expense for me, unless I try to make one. From what I have been reading though, I think for a few chickens like I have you might spend $10 per month – not sure yet though. But I hear the fresh eggs taste better, have less cholestorol, and can be organic (which are more expensive in the stores). But we will see! I will do the math and figure it out as they get bigger. I am keeping track of everything now.
And yeah, I did hear about clipping wings, but not sure if you do that to baby chicks or wait till they are bigger?
Rachelle Benson says
Congrats to you!!! Welcome to the wonderful smell of farming.
We have downsized ourselves this year. I am no longer feeding 10 people… only 5. So we put in an order for Freedom Rangers for our meat birds this year. We wont raize frankenbirds ( i.e. Cornish cross ) anymore. They take a little longer to raise up to butchering size, but are well worth the time. We have only two turkeys right now, but all together we have about 50 birds, including all the laying hens and the muscovy ducks we raise for meat and eggs as well… so our numbers are about to double.
We have barred rocks from last year and I am undecided on what breed to order for this year to replace last years. We have a system in place where we have one breed per year. That way I know when to can up the old hens that arent laying, and which ones arent yet.
Every farmer has a soft spot, so I have a few old gals that hang around that are far too old to produce but I keep my Java Hen around ( they are heritage and the original homesteaders chicken) and we have a handful of banties that are about. Mr. Cluck is the only one that stays in the rabbitry unstead of the coop at night. You can find a picture of him on our family blog.
I’m excited for you… your kids will love you forever. Make sure they practice good hygene from here on out. Poultry DO carry disease… so make sure thier lil hands get washed ALOT! Our rule is wash as soon as they are done handling them. 🙂
HomesteadHeaven-BensonAdventures are cheering you on!!! 🙂
Hi Rachelle, I totally read through your whole blog one night, you are so amazing! I love your hoop house, and totally want one now. 😉 I LOVE your idea about ordering a certain type each year so you know when to butcher them, that is soooo smart. And yep, we are having the kids wash wash wash their hands all day long. The hard part is they want to kiss them…and I keep saying NO..whenever I see it. I don’t want them to get sick!
We bought 9 chicks last year. We live on a 8th of an acre. My hubby built a chicken coup, by recycling a few things we already had. We spent around $300 in the beginning, building materials and fencing. I wish we would have made a chicken tractor, and rotated it around the yard. Because we don’t like them being cooped up, we let them out and they poop EVERYWHERE! It took some time for them to realize that they needed to lay eggs in the chicken coup, so we did have to keep them in there for a few week last summer because we were finding random eggs laid around the yard.
I am definately thinking about having a moveable chicken coup, so we can move ours around the yard as well. Right now I cannot have mine just wander the yard because we have a lab, and I am not sure how he is going to handle them. I love that your husband used things you already had to save money!
Sue M says
The main thing you get when you introduce hens to a rooster is more chickens – eventually. Yes, chickens do frequently “announce” their production to the world – kind of that “look what I did!” sound. Roosters are the really noisy ones though. Can you hide them – depends on the breed, size of your yard and nosiness of your neighbors.
Karrie, are you factoring in the cost of start-up supplies in the per dozen cost of your egg futures???
Hi Sue, I will probably do both comparisons, the cost of start up as well as a month to month after start up costs with feed involved. I like to consider all things when I do the math. 😉 Oh and that is so funny, I guess I will find out about that “look what I did” chicken sound when they lay their first eggs. Ha! Sounds funny!
So I would love to get some chickens but technically living within the city limits of Kennewick you are not allowed to have them plus I live in a housing development so we are not allowed. Such a bummer!! A couple of questions I have, I’ve been told to get the hens to lay eggs you have to introduce them to a rooster have you heard that or is that at all true? Also I’ve heard that the hens are generally quiet until they start to lay eggs then they scram like crazy? What I am getting at here is, are they quiet enough to hide?…lol
No rooster is needed for eggs 🙂 (just need s guy if joy want chicks)
How cute! They are so fluffy, but I am afraid of chickens so dont know if I would want to raise them.
I too have been afraid of chickens, and I am hoping this cures me of my fears! We will see, so far so good.
Sara Whit says
Only thing to be afraid of is them stealing your french fries or food right out of your hands. Otherwise they are very sweet. I have1 Wyondotte (however it is speld) and I call her courious. She just has to follow me around the yard trying to see what I am doing and if I have treats. She keeps up with me and is always on my right side cackeling as we walk. Such a sweet hart. I also have some little tiny Olde English Game Fowl that I can pick up and pet and they just love it. So cute. But their eggs are 3 times smaller then a med size chicken egg. Even the rooster is a sweetie and he loves to be held. It all depends on how they are raised. We do not keep mean roosters. Most of the time all they want is food. hahah.
Sara Whit says
This year we added a few more chicks to our group. 30 Cornish X, 7 white turkey, 10 Leg Horns, 10 Amaricaunas, and 5 Rhoad Island Reds. They can be so much fun!! and we do love the eggs fresh and I know they are organic and good for us, plus any extra eggs we sale for $2 a doz.
Better get a screen top for your tub as those little ones will learn to fly/jump up real soon. Amazing how fast they will grow.
So you do turkeys? That is cool, do you eat the turkeys or sell them? I have heard Leg Horns are one of the nicest hens..plus they are interesting looking. So how many do you keep for laying so you can sell them?
Oh and yep, I have a screen topper already..LOL…I just havent put it on yet. I don’t want poop all over my dining room. 😉
Sara Whit says
I was shocked at how young those little guys are when they can jump/flap out. as soon as those flight feathers grow in they love to jump up. Mine would jump up onto the water bottles and then onto the rim of the tub and look around…. then jump out and excape into the room. hahah. SO CUTE!
Leg horns are sort of wild but I think you just have to work with them to calm them down, most of my girls are so friendly they crowed around my feet and beg for treats. Love bread and greens and fingers.
I try to not get attached to the meat birds. That is why I always get extra laying chicks so I can love them and don’t think of the turkey or cornish chicks. The turkey…. haha, last year I ended up getting attached to one of the broad breasted whites and when she started laying eggs instead of puting on weight – we are keeping her. She is so sweet. And we also have a tom and 3 hens in the Burboun Red Turkey. They are such butt heads. Getting into things and jumping up onto the top of the house or barn and run around. Clomp clomp of their feet on our metal roof! So funny.
I think we have around 80 chickens running around eating everything in sight. So no flowers here unless it is under lock and key. haha. I just collected 45 eggs yesterday and usually sale 15 doz a week. Lets me keep my hens and enjoy them if we have that extra income to pay for their laying crumble.
Injoy the chicks. The kids will get a blast out of them growing up!
Okay, I better put that screen on then! I know one of them has a nice set of feathers already..and can flap them around. Wow – 80 chickens? You are amazing! Is it a lot more work taking care of so many at once, or are they still fairly easy to raise? I do NOT want turkeys, every year at the fair they freak me out…totally scary. But I guess if I raised them from chicks I wouldnt mind them as much… Do you sell your eggs at a farmers market or just to neighbors/word of mouth. I think what you are doing is so cool!
Sara Whit says
To sale off the property I have to get a license and registure but I can sale on property where customers usually call me and let me know how many doz they want and I will get them ready and meet them out at the gate and hand the eggs right to them in the cars so they don’t even have to get out. but most want to see the animals as we also have 27 baby lambs right now.
Chickens are really easy. They get the run of the 5 acres and will go in at night to their building to sleep and lay eggs. We just keep the feeder full- about 25 pounds every day of poultry layer and chicken scratch. Boy can they eat. and fresh water all over the place. Scoop the pens out every now and then and fresh nesting material. (They prefer grass hay instead of straw…. greedy girls.)
My Turkey hens are bratts and will chase my cat and are evil sometimes. But they are so pretty and funny to watch. The Tom just strutes around displaying his tail to all. I think they will start laying eggs reall soon. Turkey eggs are like 2 large chicken eggs and really thick shelled. But they taste just like chicken eggs.
Ginger Bingham says
we just bought 8 silver laced Wyandottes. They are our babies, all our chicken’s are our babies. we pick em up & hold them. My americana has to be sang to every day.
That is so sweet!!