Are you stocking winter chicks?

Many people choose to raise chickens in the winter in the hopes of getting eggs that spring. Keeping the chicks warm enough is always a concern during the spring and especially in the winter months. Chicks need to be kept at 95 degrees for the first week or so and then dropping the temperature by five degrees a week as their feathers come in and begin to do the job of keeping them warm. Another reason people choose to brood chicks is for the fair. Having chicks in January brings mature and fully feathered birds to the county fair each year. Those couple of extra months provide for a lot of growth and mature birds for the fair.
Raising chickens is a fun hobby with eggs or meat as a benefit. In the picture above I have Buff Orpington and Fast Growing meat birds. The meat birds were a huge failure. We live just under five thousand feet in elevation and the warning for the birds was to not raise above five thousand feet. I thought I’d be safe… well four thousand six hundred feet is apparently close enough to five thousand feet.. because I lost each and every chick to pneumonia as they grew older. I also found out that free feeding these chicks is a no-no… they will eat themselves to death. Food for twelve hours on and then twelve hours off (pull the food through the night) is the most recommended feeding schedule I’ve seen out there. My other failure came in with raising egg birds and meat birds in the same brooder. They tended to pile up at night and as time passed the meat birds were twice the size of the little buff chicks. When I’d check on them in the morning I’d find flat buffs on the bottom of the huddle. The temps held fine, the birds just liked to huddle. It was a learning experience for sure… I’ll certainly do things differently next time!

There are a lot of tricks and tidbits to raising chickens, turkey poults or any birds. What tidbits have you learned over the years.?