Updated: Feb 16, 2022
Spring is just around the corner and if you are part of any farm community, chicks are starting to pop in local feed stores. Not so fast though, there are some things to consider before bringing home those adorable little girls. Chickens grow very fast and so it is important to gather all of the supplies (or most of the supplies) on this list before you bring them home.
Chickens are a relatively low maintenance animal to keep. Whether you are adopting chicks as a beginner or a seasoned expert, I am going to tell you all the things that I absolutely could not have done without. I am also going to describe to the new comers, what you have to have before you can even think about bringing the little peeps home.
Before you even think about bringing chicks home, you have to plan and build a coop. When we built our coop, we planned it to hold a max of 25 chickens. Each chicken needs four square feet. Keep that in mind when you build your coop that you have plenty of room if you plan to get more chicks in the future. Also make you you look up your local laws because not every borough and town allows you to keep more than a certain amount of each animal depending on your lot size.
We built our coop from scratch. We watched lot of youtube videos for inspiration and then drafted our plans. If you are interested in seeing how we built our coop, I will be documenting our coop in an upcoming post.
However, there are a few coops that you could buy if you only plan to have a few chickens. One of them is this one here. This is a good option because it is off the ground and it relatively cost effective because it comes with both nesting boxes and a run. However, this coop and basically every other pre-made coop you can buy can only fit a few birds and most stores only allow a minimum of six at purchase meaning you will have to build a coop yourself if you are going to bring home six chickens from a feed store.
Once you do figure out your home for your fully grown chicks, you will need chick starter feed and an appropriately sized feeder and waterer for baby chickens. I like these because they are glass and so they are easy to clean. The cheaper chick waterers tend to break and need replaced. However, once your chicks are outside they will need a larger waterer. The waterer I recommend for grown chickens is the automatic cup-a-waterer from Harris Farms. I currently have two of them and they hang from the run and the nipples are inside the coop. I love these because I don't even have to go inside the coop to water. Here is a larger option as well. I can fill them with the hose in the summer so easily. However, these need specific defrosters for the wintertime. I do not use heated buckets for the chickens. I use the drop in defrosters in the waterers. They have always been very efficient and they stay outside the entire winter. Here is a similar defroster to the one I use.
Once you square away your chicks' basic
essentials, you will need a place to put them in until they are large enough to go outside in their big girl chicken coop. I always use a cardboard box. I love how light they are and they can be easily cleaned or replaced if they get too soiled. I typically find the largest box I can find. I compost this box in my garden when the chicks have grown out of it so it really is a zero waste option. You will also need a heat lamp over the box to keep the chicks warm for the first six weeks of their life. Their box or whatever you decide to house them in, will need to be filled with bedding. I use pine shavings because they help deter bacteria.
Another option for a chick brooder is a baby pool. I have used a baby pool for my ducks and it worked just as well for the chicks because it could be hosed out outside. I used this because the ducklings needed the baby pool for the future anyways so it did not create any unnecessary waste.
If you build your own coop, you, will need nesting boxes installed before your hens lay. I have used several things for mine. These from amazon work well but a budget friendly option are 50 pound kitty litter containers with the lids cut in half. Aesthetically, these look terrible but they are going to get covered in chicken poop so when I used them I did not care.
If you cared terribly about having to the coop to open and shut the coop at certain times of the day and wanted to keep things aa hands off as possible, there are a lot of really unique products that will help you do so. There are lots of options for automatic doors. These are on a timer and you do not have to worry about shutting or opening the coop in the day or night. One of the major sacrifices getting chickens for the first time is that you have to be home at dark every single night to shut your chicken coop door so predators cannot just walk in and help themselves. An automatic door truly helps with that worry if you feel you cannot be home in time.
Another automation product they have available that is really cool is automatic waterers and feeders. These can be even hooked up and hardwired to your water line so they are truly hands off. You can find those here if you wanted to take a look.
I keep my hens on chick starter feed until they go outside and then I put them on layer pellets. I spread my pellets around the chicken run because it gives them exercise and is a more natural way for the hens to collect food. I do not use any sort of feeder for my adult chickens. The pellet food I buy at Tractor Supply and you can find it here.
If you are an experienced chicken owner and would like to share your absolute essentials and why, I would love to add it to our list! Comment below or contact me via email at email@example.com.