5 Things You Should Know Before Buying Baby Chicks

With the state of the world right now lots of people are looking for ways to be more food secure, and having chickens is a great way to provide sustainable food for you and your family. And this time of year lots of places have those adorable chicks just waiting for you to take them home. We got our chicks this past October and 3 of the 8 have just now started laying, but it is so exciting! However, it's not easy or cheap raising chicks. So, here are some things you should know before you go out and buy a bunch of super cute chicks.

1. They don't lay eggs for close to 6 months.
It's easy to get caught up in how adorable chicks are but they get big pretty quickly and you'll be feeding them and taking care of them for close to 6 months before they start laying eggs. That's definitely something you might look past when you are holding that adorable lil' chick.

2. They have to be kept at a certain temperature for a period of time and need to be in a brooder.
This is what we used to home the chickens. You can't just get chicks and then throw them outside and hope it all works out. They need to be in a brooder, and there are specific temperatures that chicks have to be at for several weeks. You can achieve that warmth by several methods. Most people use a heat lamp but you have to be careful when doing this because they can start fires. You can read more about those temperature specifications here. You typically lower the temperature every week by several degrees until they can get used to the outside temperature.

3. Setting up a proper chicken coop is a lot of work and can be expensive.
If you don't want to build your own coop, you will be paying several hundred dollars for an already assembled coop. You can save a lot of money by building your own, but that's a lot of work. We took forever to build ours because we were trying to do it as inexpensively as possible. We repurposed a lot of wood from pallets and got it for free on craigslist. All that to say- if you want to build a chicken coop that is predator safe, comfortable for your chickens, and is easy to maintain, you have to do a lot of planning for that.

4. You could be getting a rooster.
A lot of chicks are sold straight run which means you don't know if the chick will be a rooster (male) or hen (female who lays eggs). There are certain breeds that the females look different than the males so you can know what you're getting when you buy them. However, in most cases you'll only find those types of chicks from specialty hatcheries. Maybe you're cool with getting a rooster, but where we live you cannot have roosters within city limits. So that's just something to take into consideration.

5. You will not save money by having your own chickens.
Remember you are going to be feeding and taking care of chickens for 6 months before they every lay an egg. You could definitely just buy eggs somewhere else for less money when you take in the cost of the coop, food, bedding, treats, etc.

We say all of this not to prevent you from raising chicks, but just so you know what you are getting into. It's not for everyone, and you may be better off buying hens that are already laying. We chose to get chicks instead of hens that are already laying because we wanted specific breeds to lay certain color eggs. Depending on where you live, it may be hard to find the specific chicken breed you want. Buying laying hens over the internet is usually expensive because of the shipping charge. Check to see if you can find some laying hens locally to you. That's what we did the first time we had chickens, and it worked great! We definitely feel more attached to our chicks since we raised them from being a day old. Getting that first egg was so exciting. There are definitely benefits to raising chicks, but you just have to do what is right for you!


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