Money, money money...
If you haven't been put off yet (woo, you go!!!) then read on, and adventure into the world of chicks, chicks, chicks!
Heat, yes, perhaps the most important thing for a chick's development and survival. Chicks need access to heat, at least until they are feathered out nicely. There are a few different options, of which I will talk you through below before you decide on what's right for you.
First, the broody, the simplest solution. She can do pretty much all the work for you. All you have to do is provide a safe nesting place, some feed and shallow water. All the chicks we have had in the past have been reared by broodies, and of the hatches, nearly all have been raised by 'Mumma Chicka', our resident bantam super - mum. She demonstrates how a hen may just take to mothering like a duck to water, while others will never sit longer than laying an egg. If you want a great mummy hen, look no further than a pekin, silkie, goldtop or any docile bantam. The Silkie is often described as the queen of the hatching world. They are generally sweet and docile, and will almost always start 'broodifying' after laying just a dozen eggs, and when the eggs hatch they are doting mothers.
The second contender for broody is the Goldtop, a cross between a gold silkie cockerel and a light sussex bantam hen. Goldtops were created to be a broody, so would be an obvious hen to choose, they are attractive as well. And then of course you have the Pekin, up at the top with the Silkie for best mothering skills. Of course any hen that takes to being broody can raise chicks, however bear in mind that if you are buying day old chicks, you'll need a very broody hen to accept ready hatched babies.
The cheapest heat source for little chicks, unless you already have a resident broody, is a heat lamp. As well as being cheap, heat lamps are also readily available, with almost every feed and farmers' merchants having some in stock. Which goes to show how popular they are. However, there is a danger. Heat lamps have been known to start dangerous fires. The lamp falls over into the brooder box, meaning that the bulb is pressed against the dry wood shavings. If the lamp has to be hot enough to sustain the lives of chicks a fair distance away, then imagine how hot the bulb itself must be. There have been many cases of fires that have been started by heat lamps, destroying whole outbuildings and burning down parts of people's houses, as well as killing the chicks and sometimes other livestock in the barn.
The most common reason for heat lamps falling and causing a fire is that people use only the clamp that comes with the lamp to secure it to the side of the brooder box. What frequently happens is that the once tight clamp loosens to a point where it can no longer hols up the lamp. If you opt for a heat lamp to keep your chicks warm, ensure that the lamp is also tide to something secure, so that even if the clamp loosens, there is no risk of the lamp falling and starting a fire. If you do decide to get a heat lamp, do make sure that you get two bulbs, in case one dies. A final point on heat lamps, is that they do not provide the chicks with a day/night differential, that the mother hen or Brinsea Ecoglow would provide. If you experience raising chicks under a Brinsea Ecoglow you will know that when you switch off the light in the room, they will stop cheeping and fall silent, but if they are under a heat lamp, the constant light does mean that you will always hear a little chick peeping, all through the night.
The final option that I am going to talk about in this post is the Brinsea Ecoglow. I am lucky enough to have one myself, but I will try not to be too biased! They are probably the most expensive option, but if and when you do get one, you know you are buying from a reliable, trusted brand. The ecoglow is designed to be like a mother hen. It looks like a miniature table, almost, with the tabletop being height adjustable so you can raise it as the chicks get bigger. It provides the babies with a warm, dark, cosy area where they can go to if they need a snooze or a warm up. Unlike a heat lamp, it allows the chicks to experience both day and night, which many people says results in more relaxed chickens. If raised by a mother hen, the chicks can easily regulate their own temperature, exploring around them, which cools them down, or returning to their mother if they feel chilly. The same principal is applied to the ecoglow, if they are underneath it, they are nice and warm, but if they feel too hot, they have the opportunity to quickly cool off by exploring the rest of the brooder. A heat lamp evenly heats the brooder box, meaning that a chick can never escape from a temperature that is either too hot or cold for it. Another big advantage of the ecoglow, is that it is really easy to clean. It is all smooth surfaces, so after a quick wipedown with a cloth, it's as good as new! Chicks are real gymnasts and explorers, they love to climb on top of their mother's back and climb around. The design of the ecoglow allows the chicks to exhibit natural behaviours, chicks just love hopping up on top and perching! Brinsea Ecoglows, as names suggest, are very economic, they use very little power, without compromising on the comfort of the chicks.
So, before you bring your chicks home, make sure you have my super-chick list!
- Have you got heat?
- The correct feed?
- Water and safe dish?
- AND....... CHICKIE FLUFF PUFF CUTIEMUNDOS!!!!!!