I am proud to add “chicken mom” to my accolades. I have been wanting a chicken coop for over a year, given how many eggs we go through daily between Josh, Oakley, and me! Fortunately, my best friend and her husband have egg layers and they gave me a ton of tips on chicks, the coop set up, what they need / don’t need, etc. I also have a lot of followers on Instagram that provided helpful tips as well- which is what has led me to compile this blog (as I know it can be extremely overwhelming as it was for me).
I purchased our chicks directly from Hoover Hatchery- I got them in November and many Tractor Supply stores do not carry chicks during these winter months (some may, depending on the breed you want). I did a lot of research on egg-laying ability, immune systems, personality, etc and we landed on wanting Easter Eggers. I originally wanted 10 chicks but after a lot of messages about how many could possibly die, I decided to go with 15. Luckily- none of ours have died and they are over 2 weeks old. Chicks are shipped to you the day after they are born and the hatchery I went through offered routine vaccines for less than a few dollars per chick- which I went with (maybe this is part of the reason none of them have died).
Many hens will start laying at about 18 weeks so we have a few more months before they start laying eggs. They will be inside until they are at least fully feathered (which can happen around 6 weeks for many breeds). As it’s winter for us until basically April, our coop will have electricity so once they are too big for the brooder, I will run the heat lamp out to the coop until it gets a little warmer for them- even though, as you will see below, fully feathered chickens are fine in 30 degrees (but it can get much colder than that here).
I am unsure if all hatcheries provide as much information as ours did when it comes to chick care, so here is their informative packet for first-time chick owners (no affiliation, I am a full time paying customer- just want to share a great company).
Their Set Up
Their brooder is simply a 40 gallon stock tank that we have had for years- many farming stores will carry what you need for tanks. If you are like me and get overwhelmed easily, I highly recommend this starter kit for the chicks- it comes with literally everything you need (minus the bedding and food). It comes with a heat lamp, two feeders (one for small chicks and one for when they are a little older), a gravity fed waterer, and a booklet on chick care. It really helped alleviate my anxiety over what to order for them.
I personally clean their brooder in the morning, every morning. I add new bedding daily and I also add a “recoup” product that is made of natural scents to absorb odor. Pine shavings make the best bedding for chicks. For their food, I use a medicated crumble that is vitamin fortified to support healthy development and growth. I also add electrolytes to their water for a healthy digestive system. If you would prefer to get another kit for their health, this is a great option as well. Once the chicks get to be a little larger, we will move them to this larger brooder before they are moved to the coop. At the moment I am feeding them three times per day and also trying to pick them up as much as possible to get them used to being handled as that is inevitable with Oakley.
I started a note in my phone on when they were born (they arrived the next day), and what their temperature should be set at each week based on their age. I use a room thermometer in their brooder to ensure the temperature is perfect for them.
- Heat Information:
- Week 1- 95°
- Week 2- 90°
- Week 3- 85°
- Week 4- 80° – this is when I will start to take them outside for a few minutes at a time, allow to explore outside longer as they get older
- Week 5- 75°
- Week 6 through 8- 65-70° (wean from heat lamp essentially)
- After week 8 and if they are fully feathered, they can be in a coop as long as the temperature doesn’t get below 30°
My plan is to have our coop plans available for sale, along with a building material list, very soon! Until then, here are some of the coop details:
- 6×6 with a small loft for feed and other items
- Fully electric
- 8 nesting boxes- 4 on the north wall and 4 on the south wall
- South wall nesting boxes are accessible with a lift from the outside of the coop, double insulated and sealed so raccoons can’t get in. Lift is chained as well
- Door to the runner that can stay open for chickens to come in and out as they please during the day
- Roosting bar inside the coop
- Chicken swing inside the coop
- 2 chicnik tables, one to stay in the coop and one to be in the runner to keep the feed off the ground
- Roof has an overhang to prevent any water from sitting on the roof as there are no gutters
- Inside the coop is painted white to give chickens more light during the winter months
- Windows are double insulated with screens on all 3 sides to create a draft during the summer so it doesn’t get too hot
- Double vented at the top as well to release heat during summer months
- Roof is double lined with aluminum to expel heat from the black roof during the summer