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Deciding Whether to Bring Baby Chicks Home?
Here’s Why You Should (or Should Not) Make It Happen.
Ah, so the chicken bug has bitten you and you’re either seriously considering becoming a first time chicken owner, or you’re already well on your way, searching for extra information in order to be well prepared. I applaud you for your time doing research first before you bring home baby chicks.
Inevitably spring comes along each year and many people see the adorable fluff balls that are baby chicks for sale at different outdoor retailers. They’re so cute and seem so easy to take home- how hard could it be and how big could they really get? Even veteran chicken keepers succumb to chicken math at some point in their lives (3 + 4 chicks = 18 hens), how could you not? Resist the urge! Especially if you are just starting out.
There’s a lot to learn and a lot to prepare before taking on chickens. Please be responsible in your planning and expectations. They do require a commitment of your time and resources (see “Essential Supplies Needed for Baby Chicks”, and “What to Feed Baby Chicks- Diet Essentials and Extras”).
However, what is so great about owning chickens is that once you do all the initial work upfront, you mostly get to sit back and enjoy your flock from there on out with those quick daily checks!
Why Should I Bring Baby Chicks Home?
Often life surprises us. Many of us find hobbies we never thought we’d enjoy, or perhaps certain things in life reach out to us and pull us in seemingly unwillingly only to awaken us to the fact that we can’t believe we ever lived without that “thing.”
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First Ask Why?
Why do you have a desire for chickens?
Just as a backyard flock to bring you joy? For greater self reliance? Homegrown meat? For the fresh eggs? To get a better handle on your insect population? For your garden? As therapy pets? (Yes, some people do.) We will cover a handful of these topics and hope you consider your reasoning for bringing home baby chicks and whether you can realistically adapt to the lifestyle.
The Self Reliant Lifestyle
Let’s be honest: chickens are a gateway drug into other forms of self reliance. Careful, once you start you may never go back.
Homegrown eggs or meat. There is truly nothing better than freshly laid eggs in your backyard. Imagine each day, going out with the kids with a basket or egg carton in hand knowing your hens that you’ve taken care of are providing you with food for your table. Fresh eggs from a healthy backyard flock are shown to be healthier than even organic, free range eggs purchased at any store.
You can also easily preserve fresh eggs up to one year in your own pantry or cold storage room. The eggs can be left outside the fridge (yes, left on your countertop) for up to one month as long as they haven’t been washed. For those wanting to raise chickens for meat, this is also quite common. We do not personally do this and will not write about it on this site, but again, just like the protein from eggs, having a homegrown protein source from your own backyard is invaluable.
Low Maintenance & A Satisfying Work
Chickens are fun and relatively low maintenance. Imagine lounging in a comfortable chair in your yard, feet up, reading a good book, all while your hens are happily doing their chicken business around you. If you have kids they will enjoy the laughter, fun and silliness that is chickens. The magic of finding fresh eggs in the laying boxes is unique and life changing.
Once you have then established in their coop and run or whatever arrangement you may have for them, most of chicken keeping is just daily checks for eggs, quickly checking for signs of distress and checking food and water. That’s it. If you’re going out of town, there are many ways to set them up so that you do not need to replace food or water for weeks at a time.
And bonus: ask a family member or friend to collect eggs for themselves while you are away. They will be happy to enjoy the fresh eggs.
Find joy knowing you’re giving your flock a better life. Listen, there are more chickens living on planet earth than there are humans. Unfortunately most of these birds are living a terrible existence thanks to modern, commercial agriculture. You will be providing your flock with everything they need to live a very happy life without crowding, certain diseases and being in a barn for their whole life. Bring on the sunshine, they will be happier for it.
A Very Affectionate Pet
You may be surprised to learn that chickens can actually be quite affectionate. Many backyard chicken owners find that when chicks are handled frequently when young, they are accustomed to human touch and love to be around you.
We have a black sex link hen that would sit lovingly on the lap of our two year old for up to 30 minutes at a time while she would pet and talk to it. Other hens have just been the type to want to be close by to us at all times.
Did you know some people let their chickens into their homes and enjoy them as lap animals? Or put leashes on them and take them on walks around the neighborhood? This is a real thing. It is not uncommon for chicken owners and kids to have strong emotional bonds with their chickens.
Home, Yard & Garden Workers
Chickens are workers. They are a resource and powerhouse to any garden or homestead. And the best news is that you will not have to ask them twice, they naturally do it on their own when presented with the right environment.
Chickens will naturally provide you with droppings that you can add to your compost pile. Then, you can let them go at the compost pile and they will dig, scratch and mix it up for you. Compost is then added to the garden for a plentiful harvest.
Got lots of grass clippings, leaves or mulch? Dump it in the run and they will dig, peck and scratch at it until it no longer exists.
They can eliminate unwanted garden pests with their expert level insect hunting skills.
Behind on mowing the lawn or grassy field? Let those chickens free range for a time and take care of that for you.
Have an abundance of kitchen scraps from fruits, vegetables, breads, oatmeal, meat scraps, cheese and more? You do not need to throw them away or put them in the garbage disposal. Feed them to your flock knowing that they will in turn provide you with nutritious eggs soon after.
It’s worth mentioning that chickens left to their own devices can also be destructive for all of these same reasons. You should never allow them free access to landscaping or garden areas where you would not want them to dig up mulch, roots or eat other plants etc.
Life Experience & Richness
How many adults or children today are able to experience even an inkling of what it means to live on a farm? To raise your own baby chicks, build a nice home for them in your yard and take care of them for years? Knowing the satisfaction that comes from homegrown food on your table? To experience first hand the taking care of an animal who in turn serves you back, and will eventually die, for you to see and experience that cycle of life. Especially for children this is truly an invaluable experience that brings a breadth and depth of understanding important life lessons.
When Should I Not Bring Home Baby Chicks?
As much as you’re excited about the prospect of having backyard chickens, its important to be responsible and realistic with your situation.
Do not bring home baby chicks if:
- You are not allowed to legally (check your city ordinances), think space requirements, whether you’re allowed roosters etc.
- A home is not set up for them yet. You will need a brooder set up with a heat lamp, electrolytes, feeding and watering system. You need a coop and run ready to go for when they are fully grown. These are all fairly simple to achieve, just make sure you’ve done all that first. Learn more about essential supplies needed for baby chicks.
- No money budgeted or resources available for things like a chicken coop, run, feeders, waterers, heatlamps, chicken feed, bedding etc.
- You do not have the time to spend taking care of them. You should be able to check them daily (think 5 minutes in the morning, 5 in the evening). Occasionally you may have health concerns come up that may require more of your time, though most of those can be avoided by consistently creating a healthy environment for your flock. Depending on your chosen method of bedding, you will need to do at the very least a spring cleaning of the chicken coop each year, and a fall winterizing of the chicken coop (depending on the climate where you live).
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I wish you all the best in this decision for you and your family. Thank you for considering all aspects before taking on the responsibility of bringing home baby chicks. Of course, I hope it will all come together for you and that you will get to experience the richness that comes from raising backyard chickens. Have fun!
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Wishing you and your family all the best in your self reliance journey!
Herbs, Birds & the Bees
Garden, Chickens, Bees & Homestead