We ordered nine biddies - 3 New Hampshire Reds, which are my dad’s choice for livability/strength (gold now as chicks - they were tired from bossing everyone on their trip and wanted to sleep by the gallon jug in the picture below); 3 Buff Orpingtons (yellow as chicks), for my ideal of a golden, calm, pet hen; and 3 Black Australorps (black/yellow as chicks), for what I remember of their intelligence and being strong, long-lived heavy layers.
I like full-size chickens for their old-fashioned look, but also for hardiness, long life, fewer predators. Also we want variety so we have a better chance of telling them apart. We heard white chickens attract predators more, so decided to avoid those this time. We ordered all pullets because, again, I don’t want to cull any roosters. So these are sexed, but if one rooster got past the sexers, we'll accept him. When we used to order 24 we’d have several roosters that got through, and have a problem with fighting.
We think the Australorps are more intelligent from the beginning – already doing “tricks” of coming when tapped for, “roosting” on fingers at 36 hours old. The New Hampshires are bossier and active from the beginning, hopping over other chicks like checker pieces (one reason the flock will be strong, though). The Buffs are already even-tempered pets and fall asleep in your hand, nestle under a hand like it is a hen, accept being picked up while Australorps figure out how to back right out of your hand. Fascinating.
Our homemade brooder is a cardboard box with high sides. At first, we just put in many layers of newspaper cut to box-bottom size, and we sprinkle their chick feed onto it. They are not old enough to search for feed in a feeder yet, but they have a scratching instinct to perfect. Some people like paper towels for fear a slick surface will cause a leg problem. But I have never had that happen. As the papers are soiled, we can just roll up and throw away a layer at a time – chicks don’t have to be lifted out to stay clean. Later, we’ll set a feeder in and give them different bedding to scratch in, even grass clippings.
Inside it they only need two things at first: the waterer (you just invert a quart mason jar onto it – costs a dollar or so) and some low-tech heat source. At first, I like a gallon jug of hot water, which chicks find very comforting like a big mama hen. One jug of water as hot as my tap will get it will stay warm for 3 hours, so I get up once in the night and then dh changes it when he gets up. In a night or two I may switch to a plain light bulb rigged to work with instructions on the net (most people use lightbulbs), but it seems more natural for them to sleep in the dark at first. If I just put them outdoors, they might not need any heat in August here, but I want them safe while they’re babies.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
If you don't believe in miracles, you're not being realistic.