With a variety of products available, when it comes time to consider the baby chickens for sale at your local Grange Co-op, its easy to become overwhelmed. We’re here to help you along the way!
You may find yourself mesmerized and entertained by the baby chickens for sale at Grange Co-op stores. While small and entertaining to watch, in order to thrive, these chicks need proper care. Grange Co-op Nutritionist of Feed Formulations and Chicken Expert, Roxanne Trusty, discusses baby chicken care. Interested in learning more? Or just need a refresher course on how to provide newly hatched chicks the best chance at a healthy life? Continue reading!
Once you’ve selected your chicks at your Grange Co-op store, we recommend a procedure called FLLAW.
We’ll be going in-depth on each of these. If you can successfully keep all five of these things clean, fresh and in order — you’ll be well on your way to raising healthy chicks!
A common question we receive is “How often does a chick eat?” The baby chickens for sale at Grange Co-op may only be a day or two old. However, chicks, in general, have been bred, cared for and studied for a long time! So long that it has been found, if you provide a nutritionally balanced chick feed, common layer chicks will eat 9 pounds per bird in their first 9-week growing period.
If you’re trying to raise a broiler chick (a meat bird) they eat about 8 to 9 pounds per bird in the first 6 weeks. Taking this into consideration it can be estimated how much feed the baby chickens for sale at Grange Co-op will eventually consume under your care! Note, chicks eat at this rate for only a period of time. Once they are laying hens, and at a mature age, they will eat about 1.75 pounds of food per week.
When discussing a nutritionally balanced feed, we recommend Rogue Quality brand feeds. These feeds provide a 100% complete diet for chickens. No additional nutrients or proteins are needed in a chicken’s diet if they are fed Rogue Feeds. Even though Rogue Feeds provide a 100% complete diet, there are common products such as grit and oyster shell available. Chicks do not require grit or oyster shell until they lay their first egg. Once adult, if layer hens are allowed free-range, grazing around the yard, eating lots of grass and insects, it is important to add in some grit and oyster shell on the side. However, if they’re locked up in a coop, the layer feed will provide 100% of their diet.
This brings up another common question we receive, “What is the difference between a pellet or a crumble?” Generally speaking, a Rogue Feed pellet and crumble will include the exact same ingredients. The only difference is the form of food. One is packed into small edible pellets, while the other is crushed down to a crumble size. Some types of feed are only available in one or the other. For example, Rogue Chick Starter is available only in a crumble. This is because crumble is generally smaller and easier to eat for baby chicks.
Another important factor when caring for chicks is light. You may have noticed the baby chickens for sale at Grange Co-op are under a heat lamp. The lamp we recommend emits a red color light source. If too much light is shown on chicks it can overstimulate them and they will begin pecking at each other. When setting up a brooder lamp for your chicks, try buying a red lamp to mitigate overstimulation.
Along with your light purchase, buy a thermometer and place it in the bottom of the brooder box. Doing so will help track the temperature of the brooder at the level your chicks are at. If your chicks are a week or younger, we recommend adjusting the light so the temperature is between 90-95°F. From there, you can reduce the heat by 5 degrees every week until they are fully feathered. At this point, they are old enough to regulate their own body heat.
After purchasing chicks, and during the growing season, it is important to keep the lighting low. Low light will keep the chick’s hormones in check and keep them from wanting to lay eggs too soon. Then, once they begin laying eggs, it’s important to keep the light on as long as possible. To lay eggs, chickens need at least 15 hours of daylight to keep them laying eggs continuously. Rather, chicks who are not laying only need enough to see their feed and water.
Next, is choosing the type of litter your chicks will live in. Most wood shavings or pellets that break down are great bedding for chicks. However, it is important to avoid cedar shavings or pellets! The oil in cedar is too aggressive and can cause respiratory issues for these small birds. Most other wood shavings are sufficient, providing no complications. Even straw can work, however, it may be a little more challenging to clean. Avoid using flat slick surfaces like newspapers or anything where the chicks’ feet may slip out from underneath them. Raising chicks on a slick surface can result in adult chicks with legs that have grown splayed out. These splayed legs are a common result when chicks don’t have good bedding to keep their legs underneath them.
Remember how we discussed gauging the temperature of the brooder by placing the thermostat at chick level? It is equally important to remember the air quality as well. You don’t want your chicks breathing in dirty air! If you’re not keeping the litter dry or clean enough, the air quality at chick level can quickly turn hazardous. If you can smell the brooder when standing over the brooder box, imagine what the air is like at bird level. Keeping the litter clean will keep the breathing air equally as clean, and your chicks will be happy and healthy.
When considering how much space is needed for a brooder, it’s important to remember chicks have difficulty regulating their body temperatures. They can’t heat or cool themselves, which is why it’s important the birds have adequate space. Avoid packing them into each other too much, each chick needs approximately half a square foot each. Don’t be fooled. When chicks are transported, you may notice they are crammed into a tiny box. This is just for a temporary amount of time so they can keep each other warm. Once they’re shipped to the store and placed in a brooder, it’s important they have enough space to decide if they want to be close to other birds in order to warm up, or away to cool down.
Water is very important for many aspects, making it the number one nutrient necessary for the health and wellbeing of your birds. The water you provide needs to stay fresh and clean. With the warmth of the heat lamp, bacteria is sure to grow quickly if given the chance. Rinsing out, cleaning with a diluted bleach formula and replenishing with cool water as often as possible will keep bacteria growth down.
If your chicks don’t drink enough water, they will get dehydrated. Dehydration is the main symptom of pasty butt. Essentially, when pasty butt occurs, fecal matter dries over the chick’s vent. Where the feces is coming out, a little ball of fecal matter hardens on the chick’s butt. If you see this occurring, it’s important to wash the chick off underneath a faucet. Make sure to dry the chick off before it goes in with the other chicks. Then re-introduce it to the water, encouraging it to drink more. Dehydrated chicks are an indication your brooder box may be too warm. Consider double-checking to ensure the temperature at bird level isn’t too warm. Raise the heat lamp to decrease the temperature. Then notice if the pasty butt in your chicks begins to decrease and stop.
It’s that simple! Prep a brooder, find the chickens for sale at Grange Co-op, gather the products necessary and speak with one of our Grange Chicken Experts in store for additional information on chick care! Give your chicks the healthiest environment possible and you’ll enjoy them for years to come.
If you’re interested in purchasing chicks, or would like to special order specific breeds, call your local Grange Co-op for inventory and information on the stock we carry.
Roxanne Trusty is the Nutritionist of Feed Formulations for Grange Co-op. With a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and Professional Animal Science Certification, Roxanne has been working in the nutrition sector of livestock for nearly 10 years. Based out of Grange Co-op’s feed manufacturing facility in Central Point, Oregon, with knowledge pertaining to multi-species nutrition. Roxanne spends most of her time consulting and working with organic dairies throughout Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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