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Raising Baby Chicks Bought from the Chicken Feed Store

Posted by Kathy Sproules, Thu, Apr 18, 2019

The grass has finally turned green here in the Midwest. You can almost put those coveralls away until next winter. (Although we really can’t be sure about that until mid-May around here!) Another sure sign of spring is walking into your local tractor supply company and hearing the faint chirping of adorable baby chicks. I know you’ve been tempted to take a few of those sweet chicks home. So, when it comes to raising baby chicks, what do you need, and how does this all work?

This year we have decided to add to our flock. Our coop is big enough for several more and we have really enjoyed the chickens we have. Not only do they supply us and our family and friends with eggs, they entertain us daily. So once again I prepared a brooder for our new arrivals. What is a chicken brooder? It is simply a safe, warm place for the chicks. I use a large plastic storage container that will hold bags of horse feed when the chicks graduate. I attach a heat lamp to the top and use shavings as bedding. Manna Pro® makes a great bedding called Fresh Flakes™ that works well for this. Remember that the chicks need a very warm environment during their first few weeks of life. The recommended temperature is around 90° Fahrenheit. They will also need a small feeder and a waterer. For feed I have always used Manna Pro Medicated Chick Starter. My chicks have always done well with that feed. All of the above is available at your local tractor supply company. 

Now that you have their home ready, how do you get them there? My tractor supply company is smart enough to know that little kids can’t keep their hands off the chicks, so they keep them visible but surrounded by a barrier to keep busy hands out. The different breeds will be displayed in different containers and clearly marked. A very nice gentleman helped me by putting my selections in a small box with holes in it that closes so my little treasures can get plenty of air and not escape in the car. Around here we want only girls. Sorry, boys! We are interested only in egg production and do not raise chickens for meat (I prefer the anonymous chickens from the grocery store for that purpose). If you want chickens only for eggs, be sure to get pullets. Those are girls. If the sign says “straight runs,” then you could end up with all boys, all girls or a mix of both. In a few short weeks, you will not be able to believe that you brought them all home in such a small box. They grow fast!

I went to two different tractor supply stores this year, as the first one had mostly the breeds I have already and we wanted to try some different breeds this time. We love the breeds we have, but I just like the look of the different breeds. Different chicken feed stores frequently carry different breeds. This year we added Isa Browns, Golden Comets and sex-linked black chicks. We already have Rhode Island Reds, Leghorn Whites, Buff Orpingtons and Barred Rocks.

The chicks will stay in the brooder until they get too big for it, which will not take long! Then it will be time to introduce them to the rest of the flock. I briefly introduced one of the chicks to the big girls today. Much to my surprise, the big chickens seemed terrified of the little one. As soon as she started heading toward the big girls, they all ran the other way and into the coop. This may be interesting! 

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Kathy Sproules

Hello! My name is Kathy. I am a retired physician that now lives a much less stressful life on our 15 acre homestead just outside of Kansas City, Missouri. My husband and I share our life with horses, dogs, cats, chickens and bees. We have a large garden that provides lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We get honey from our bees and our chickens provide us not only eggs, but hours upon hours of entertainment as well. It all makes for a very peaceful life.

Sours: https://www.mannapro.com/homestead/raising-baby-chicks

If you’ve been thinking about having backyard chickens in Ferndale, MI, now is this perfect time to get started.

Every year in mid to late February, Tractor Supply hosts their “Chick Days”, where they receive shipments of chicks from hatcheries to their retail stores.  For your average backyard chicken keeper, these days are a boon:  it makes it so much easier to source chicks and visually inspect them before bringing them home, and allows you to take home a much smaller number than would normally be shipped to you direct from a hatchery.  My preferred TSC is located in White Lake MI, about 45 minutes away from Ferndale.

Advantages to getting your chicks through TSC Chick Days:

  • Chicks can be visually inspected for leg issues, disease, and injuries prior to taking them home.
  • No “dead on arrival” chick issues that come from hatchery shipments; most hatcheries will only ship 30+ chicks at a time and often include a few extra to account for those that die en route.
  • Supplies for chick rearing are located at TSC- you can get everything you need to get started right there.
  • Smaller quantities:  TSC requires that you purchase a minimum of 6 chicks.  While this is problematic here in Ferndale where we can only have 3 chickens, it’s a far better option than sourcing through a mail-order hatchery that only ships a much larger volume (30+) of chicks per box.
  • Chicks are about $4 each.  $12 for your 3 hens in Ferndale (plus additional expenses to set up the coop, get feed, set up brooder box, etc)
  • New chicks are shipped to stores every Monday.  You can call to check what breeds they have every Monday around noon.  White Lake’s TSC just had their first shipment delivered today, 2/23/15.

Disadvantages of getting your chicks through TSC Chick Days:

  • Limited selection of breeds.  If you have your heart set on a certain breed of chicken, you may not be able to get it at TSC.  Right now, at the White Lake TSC they have Red Star & Ameraucanas.
  • If you’re in Ferndale or a city that limits how many chickens you can have, you’ll need to consider how many of the chicks you can actually keep.  You can have 3 hens in your backyard in Ferndale- and NO roosters.  This means you’ll need to rehome 3 birds from your Tractor Supply chick run.  You can do this by coordinating efforts with others who would like to get started raising chickens, or by rehoming through craigslist or by social media postings.  I see a surge in people selling started pullets/chicks around March on Michigan Poultry & Hatching Eggs Forum on Facebook & Metro Detroit Backyard Chickens Forum on Facebook.

Points to keep in mind when getting started raising chicks in Ferndale:

  1. You might end up with a male chick/rooster, even if you select from sexed chicks labeled as female. There is almost always a chance that you’ll wind up with a male chick, and you won’t know until they get older and their behavior changes & they start crowing. You can limit your risk of winding up with a rooster in a few ways:
    • never buy “straight run” chicks, only “pullets”; pullets = sexed as female
    • consider selecting sex link chicks– these are chicks who have a distinct visual difference between
      The yellow-faced chick turned out to be the only male in the 6 chick group. It was the friendliest & biggest as a chick; as it turned into a juvenile, it suddenly became standoffish and bossier to the pullets.

      males & females, making it foolproof to separate males & females.  Examples of high production common sex link birds are the black sex link (Black Star) & red sex link (Red Star).  This is the best option for those who absolutely can’t have a situation where they wind up with a rooster.

    • visually inspect slightly older chicks for characteristics of male chicks:  look for thicker legs, bigger body, and a much more friendly/bold personality
  2. You will need a place to raise the chicks.  TSC provides brooding kits, but they’re really only suitable for new chicks.  You’ll need something bigger before long. This chick brooder box idea board is a great place for inspiration.
  3. You will need a heat lamp, and will need to secure it.  Heat lamps are dangerous and can set wood shavings/sawdust on fire.  Be careful by securing the lamp to something stable or in such a way that it can’t fall into the litter the chicks are using in the brooder box.
  4. You will need chick food.  TSC has this, and it’s very cheap.  You can get medicated or non-medicated feed; as much as I’m a pseudo-hippy that lives an organic lifestyle, I prefer the medicated feed to avoid potential illnesses among the fragile chicks.  You can add in a probiotic to their feed when they are juveniles to ensure that their gut bacteria are all in order.
  5. You will need a coop for them to live in after they get bigger.  In Ferndale, that means you will need to create a permanent structure, and go through the process of getting the building approved.  Read more about the muni code & information on building a chicken coop in Ferndale MI. Chicks grow quickly, and will need a place to transition to- and you will look forward to getting them out of your house.  Why?  Because…
    Chicks must be gradually introduced to older hens.  In this case, we used a 'chicken tractor' to keep the two groups physically separated but able to see each other.
  6. Chicks create a lot of dust & droppings.  The droppings are stinky, and frequent.  You’ll need to clean the brooder box daily to keep the chicks from stomping around in their own waste.  This gets tiresome, but far worse is the dust that’s created.  This fine dust WILL coat everything in the same room as the brooder box.  It’s not toxic or stinky, but it often comes as a surprise after you’ve had the chicks for a few weeks and begin noticing that all your nice furniture has a fine, pervasive layer of dust on it.
  7. If chicks get ill, you will need to get them medication immediately.  That’s why I prefer having some on-hand, though it needs to be replaced regularly as it loses it’s effectiveness.
  8. Backyard chickens, much like dogs & cats, are a commitment of time, energy, and money.  You will need to make sure they are protected, fed, and healthy- and because they live outside in a world that wants to eat them, that presents its own set of unique challenges.  Plan on having to deal with attacks from local wildlife, and secure your coop like Fort Knox.  Make sure you have a veterinarian lined up for illnesses.  And always arrange for someone to look after them if you’re going away for an extended period of time.
  9. You will need to ensure that you don’t attract rats.  Rats are attracted to food & places to hide:  nothing more, nothing less.  If you build a coop that won’t allow rats to get inside as well as secure all sources of feed, you won’t have rat problems.  If you think you have rats, contact me immediately and I will help you figure out how to get rid of them.  Ferndale has a problem with rats in the downtown area due to improperly secured dumpsters, we as homeowners must not provide ‘greener fields’ for the rats to move to.
  10. People who keep backyard chickens fall in love with them, but not everyone feels the same.  By being a conscientious homeowner & chicken keeper, you’ll keep the peace among your neighbors.  Keep it clean, attractive, and in-compliance with the law.

42.455247-83.145503

Ferndale, MI, USA

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Sours: https://ferndalechickens.com/2015/02/23/2015-tractor-supply-co-chick-days-are-here-ferndale-mi/
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Calling All Poultry Enthusiasts: Tractor Supply Offering Nationwide Event to Start or Grow Your Flock This Season

BRENTWOOD, Tenn., July 24, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tractor Supply Company is hosting its Fall Chick Days event at stores nationwide now through early September. Starting this week, the event will help new and experienced chicken owners maintain and grow their flock this fall with chicks, ducklings and the necessary supplies for any backyard coop.

In recent years, backyard poultry ownership has exploded across America, sparking conversations about improved mental and physical health, enhanced lawn and soil care, quality family time and so much more. As a result, many have jumped at the opportunity to start their own flock and take ownership of the food they consume. Now, there’s a new season to make the leap into raising poultry.

“Raising poultry is an enriching experience that helps people feel more connected to their land, their community, their family and the food they consume,” said Phil Reiter, vice president of national marketing at Tractor Supply Company. “At Tractor Supply, our team members serve as a great poultry resource, offering guidance and education about proper handling, hygiene and safety. We look forward to this time of year as an opportunity to teach backyard poultry owners how to introduce new birds into an existing flock.”

Chick Days is the perfect opportunity for poultry owners to start or grow their flock. While there are many benefits to this time of year, mild temperatures in regions that sometimes have harsh climates will make caring for young chicks and ducklings that much easier. Furthermore, poultry acquired in the fall will be ready to lay their eggs in the spring.

Chick Days is also an ideal time to stock up on all poultry tools and equipment before adding birds to a flock. For 30 days, these young birds will need to be quarantined away from the current flock to stay healthy. Tractor Supply carries essentials like feeders and waterers, heat bulbs and lamps, quality feed ranging from conventional to organic, pens, nesting boxes and more to help new chicks and ducklings adjust to their environment.  

Owners are encouraged to prioritize the health and wellness of new young chicks and ducklings by changing their waterers regularly and ensuring they have plenty of food throughout the day. Following the quarantine, new poultry should be placed in a nearby pen to become visually acquainted with the mature birds before officially being introduced into the coop once they reach adult size. This step is extremely important to understanding future flock dynamics.

“I’ve done my fair share of exploring the best seasons for raising backyard poultry,” said Jeannette Beranger, senior program manager at The Livestock Conservancy. “While there are definite perks to raising chicks in the spring, it’s important not to overlook the key advantages that make late summer months a prime time of year to add chicks to any brood.”

According to Beranger, there are a variety of reasons to choose Chick Days as your late summer adventure.

“Chicks purchased throughout the next few months will actually produce more eggs during their first year compared to those purchased in the spring,” Beranger said. “Pullets purchased now will be the right age to immediately begin laying eggs next spring, which is peak season because the days are longer.”

Tractor Supply offers a variety of breeds during Fall Chick Days, from Rhode Island Reds and Sapphire Gems to Easter Eggers and Silkie Chickens. Outside of the event, Tractor Supply stores are stocked year-round with the items needed to properly raise and care for backyard poultry. Enthusiasts can visit TractorSupply.com/Poultry to shop an expanded selection and year-round availability of poultry products and live birds.

Visit TractorSupply.com/Chicks for Chick Days event information, expert tips on safe handling and care for poultry, building a chicken coop and more. Backyard poultry rules and regulations vary by city, county and state, so check with your local government before purchasing. Learn more about chick and duckling arrivals at Tractor Supply by following Tractor Supply on Facebook at Facebook.com/TractorSupplyCo or by visiting your local store, which you can find at TractorSupply.com/StoreLocator.

About Tractor Supply Company
Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ: TSCO), the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, has been passionate about serving its unique niche, as a one-stop shop for recreational farmers, ranchers and all those who enjoy living the rural lifestyle, for more than 80 years. Tractor Supply offers an extensive mix of products necessary to care for home, land, pets and animals with a focus on product localization, exclusive brands and legendary customer service that addresses the needs of the Out Here lifestyle. With more than 29,000 team members, the Company leverages its physical store assets with digital capabilities to offer customers the convenience of purchasing products they need anytime, anywhere and any way they choose at the everyday low prices they deserve. At March 30, 2019, the Company operated 1,775 Tractor Supply stores in 49 states and an e-commerce website at www.TractorSupply.com

Tractor Supply Company also owns and operates Petsense, a small-box pet specialty supply retailer focused on meeting the needs of pet owners, primarily in small and mid-size communities, and offering a variety of pet products and services. At March 30, 2019, the Company operated 176 Petsense stores in 26 states. For more information on Petsense, visit www.Petsense.com.

Media Contact:
Francie Corcoran
[email protected]
615-610-0315

Sours: https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2019/07/24/1887264/0/en/Calling-All-Poultry-Enthusiasts-Tractor-Supply-Offering-Nationwide-Event-to-Start-or-Grow-Your-Flock-This-Season.html
What To Buy And What To Avoid When Shopping For Your Baby Chicks

Chicken Feed: Does Brand Matter?

Reading Time: 6minutes

It’s a common question when you’re figuring out what to feed chickens. What chicken feed brand should you choose for your feathered friends? Does it even matter? With so many choices offered in most feed and farm supply stores, you could get a headache trying to read all the different labels! So let’s break it down and take a look at what is offered, remembering that different areas have different chicken feed brands available. Some are only available in a small, limited market.

what-to-feed-chickens

Chicken Nutritional Requirements

Before we go too far into this discussion, the first consideration for what to feed chickens is their nutritional requirements. Chickens need protein, carbohydrates, and fats, along with the appropriate vitamins and minerals. Most starter and grower rations will have 18% to 20% protein. This is formulated for growth and development of bones and internal organs. In addition, the fat, carbohydrate, and protein amounts will be formulated with vitamins and minerals for growth.

In some cases, a starter ration will pave the way to a grower ration. You will see grower rations used more in a facility raising chickens for meat than in a backyard chicken raising project. The final feed transition is to a layer feed.

As a growing pullet reaches maturity, the nutritional needs change. As the pullet begins to lay eggs, the calcium requirement increases dramatically. Excess calcium fed to growing chicks can actually result in weak bone formation because the higher than necessary calcium causes fast bone growth. In addition, a fully grown hen does not usually need the protein level of a growing chick.

This is why most people will start their chicks with a chick starter/grower ration and then switch around the time that the hen reaches maturity. An exception to the protein requirement might need to be made during a hard molt. Temporarily increasing the protein for laying hens, during the yearly molt may help them regrow feathers faster before the winter weather. As a side note, this is also an excellent time to treat your hens to some tasty mealworms, scrambled eggs, and the occasional treat of cheese to add protein into the diet.

Chicken feed

How is Chicken Feed Formulated?

Now that we’ve discussed why there are different formulas for different ages, let’s explore the different brands on the market. I don’t mean that I will be examining each brand specifically, but instead talking about what to look for in each specific brand.

Protein: 16% protein is the norm for laying hens. If you have a rooster, don’t worry. This is adequate and acceptable nutritionally for him too, even though he is not producing eggs.

The main source of the protein in commercial chicken feed will most likely come from corn and or soybean meal. Fish meal will supply some protein and also a good source of calcium and phosphorus. Some smaller feed mills are offering soy-free and corn-free alternatives to the traditional chicken feed choices. Unfortunately, these feeds are not available in all markets. If you are interested in feeding your layer hens a corn-free, soy-free, or organic feed, checking most feed dealer’s websites will give you information on where the feed is available.

Chicken Feed

The chicken feeds come in a crumble or a pellet form. The pellet form helps them get more food into their bodies in less time. Occasionally, you may find a mash form of chicken feed. This is a very finely ground grain formula. Scratch is a mixture of three to five grains, primarily corn. It is not recommended as a complete feed for laying hens, but, it is a tasty treat and the chickens will be happy to receive it occasionally. Some people use it for training the chickens to go in the coop at night. It can also be used as a training reward in other situations. The fact that it is a high carbohydrate food makes it unsuitable as a primary food. Chickens can overheat in warm weather when fed only scratch grain. On the other hand, it can help the chickens to keep warm during the cold weather months when added to a regular layer ration in small quantities.

chicken feed

Read the Chicken Feed Labels

Each bag of chicken feed sold in the USA is required to have a nutrition tag on it. The tag will state the ingredients and the percentages of the main ingredients. Protein levels should be between 15% and 18%, sourced from grains, or soybean meal. The label will state if the grain is all corn or list the individual grains.

If you’re raising chickens for eggs, the calcium need of a laying hen will be much higher than that of a growing chick. Look for a rate of 4.5 to 4.75% and make sure the phosphorus percent is also listed. The phosphorus level is usually around .40%. Calcium and phosphorus, along with adequate vitamin D work together for strong eggshell formation. Ground limestone, ground oyster shell, and fish meal are all common sources of calcium and phosphorus. You can save your eggshells at home, rinse to clean, dry completely and crush fine, before adding them back to your chicken’s feed.

Fat content should also be specified. Most commercial feeds will use vegetable oil. This is the source of energy and it is as important as the protein level for growth and production.

Lots of Decisions

Soy-free, organic, non-GMO, all-natural, vegetarian, name-brand, generic brand, store brand; so many choices and how do you make a decision?

chicken feed

Commercial Chicken Feed Brands

If you know even a little about the ingredients on the label of each bag, you can decide what is right for your flock. If raising an organic flock of chickens is important to you, then search for an organic chicken feed in your area. A couple of brands to look for are Scratch and Peck and New Country Organics. Purina has an option in the organic, soy-free market but it is only available in some parts of the United States.

Nutrena Feed has a line of chicken feed called NatureWise. While not being an organic feed, it is a reasonably priced alternative. The feed contains no antibiotics or hormones. Be aware that even if a feed is vegetarian, this does not make your chicken a vegetarian. Chickens naturally eat bugs and worms and enjoy doing so. Unless you are keeping them in an environment completely away from nature, they are going to be adding protein from insects to their diet, making them not completely vegetarian fed.

Purina and Southern States are the leading options for poultry feed in my area. I have used feed from both manufacturers and I don’t see much if any, difference in using one brand over the other. My chickens eat both well, and I have not noticed any difference in egg production using one versus the other.

Store Chicken Feed Brands

Dumor is one of the well-known private-label brands on the market. Sold by Tractor Supply farm stores across the country, the feed is comparable to the other major commercial feeds. If possible, learn the manufacturer of the feed being sold under a store label. Chances are it is being milled by one of the major feed companies anyway, but offered at a discount price due to volume bought, lower advertising cost, and cheaper packaging.

chicken feed

Other Chicken Feed Options

You may live near a chicken feed mill that sells certain animal feed formulas. If you have the space to store the bulk feed, this may be an economical choice. I would ask for the feed ingredients, to be sure that all of your hen’s requirements are being met. In addition, ask if antibiotics are in the feed. Personally, I don’t mind using a coccidiastat for my chicks, but I am uncomfortable adding antibiotics to their feed without a reason. Each of us needs to make that decision for ourselves.

I realize that the feeds I mentioned are certainly not a complete list of what is available in our country. The point is, we have many choices of what to feed chickens. Take the time to read the labels, and decide what is the best feed for your flock and your wallet.

Sours: https://backyardpoultry.iamcountryside.com/feed-health/chicken-feed-does-brand-matter/

Supply feed tractor chicken

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Tractor Supply Feed Haul for the Backyard Homestead!

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