Have you ever wanted a flock of backyard chickens to be able to collect fresh eggs daily? Or even raise your own healthy chicken meat? It is easy to source young, day old chicks from many local feed stores or hatcheries, but older prime, egg laying chickens can be harder to come by. Day old chicks take some extra supplies and care to make sure they make it to laying age, and that can be daunting to someone not versed in livestock. Chicks may seem difficult at first, but with the right supplies and care, they can easily be raised naturally and WITHOUT medicated feed, despite popular belief.
We have raised our own chicks, for eggs and meat, for four years now, without any vaccinations or medicated feed. On our farm we strive to make our animals healthy so that we receive the healthiest food in return. We feed a non-GMO chick starter to all our chicks and egg layers. Chicks require a heat lamp for a minimum of 3-4 weeks, sometimes until they are completely feathered. Heat lamp usage depends heavily on the weather outside and how many chicks you have together. If it is warm and they can huddle together, they will do much better at a younger age.
My favorite and safest heat lamp is the Premier One Prima heat lamps. I receive nothing by sharing this. This is my unbiased opinion and I will continue to use them, because they are the best. These heat lamps are safer than a traditional heat lamp because the bulb is completely enclosed. We feel comfortable leaving these in our coop or barn at night. They are also less likely to blow bulbs. I cannot tell you how many bulbs we have blown in the traditional ones! And they are not cheap bulbs! So considering the amount of bulbs we go through with the traditional lamps, we have more than saved our money purchasing the Prima Heat lamps.
Chicks also need water and feed! These are essential and can be accomplished in many different ways. I am going to tell you what has worked best for us in our experience. I like to ferment our feed for all our chickens. Fermenting chicken feed, like fermenting sauerkraut or yogurt for humans, has many benefits, including aiding in digestion. I ferment my chick starter for 3 days. I have found that going any longer can allow it to mold or get too sour for the chickens to readily eat. To ferment the food, I fill the bucket with my desired scoops of feed, then add a non-chlorinated water to the top until it is covered and mixed well. Put a lid on your bucket and let it sit for three days before feeding. Giving them already wet feed also helps hydrate them after traveling several days in the mail. Speaking of water, they will be THIRSTY! I like to use Magic Water! We have a Youtube video where I show you how to make this tasty, probiotic drink for your chicks. I honestly dedicate most of our success in keeping our birds healthy WITHOUT medicated feed, to this drink! It includes minced Garlic, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Raw local honey. These all come together to form a powerhouse drink to boost the chicks’ immune systems and get them off to a good start! I like to have some form of this drink in their water for the first 1-2 weeks of their lives. I will also give this periodically to my flock if they seem off or anyone becomes sick. https://www.youtube.com/embed/1V9CHFdrK50?wmode=opaqueChicks are not a difficult animal to raise. They are the gateway animal into farming! As long as they have proper care they can be very hardy animals even without feeding any medicated feed, as most of the agricultural industry does. I’m thankful for the opportunity to raise our own chickens and know they were NEVER fed any medicated feed at all. We know where our eggs come from and exactly what’s in our meat. If you have any questions post them below or contact us on social media! I’d love the opportunity to help you get started with your own flock at home!
Until next time,