Chickens are fairly self-sufficient animals but they do need care and attention, especially as baby chicks. There are four major steps to keeping chickens in an urban setting. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Set Up a Brooder
If you are purchasing your chickens, which in an urban setting is the most likely given the bans on roosters for obvious reasons inside the city, then you will need a brooder (rather than a mama hen). In this case, you need a safe protected area, free from drafts and predators (including your own cats and dogs). You can see my set up here.
Food, Water & Heat
You will need chick food (not layer or meat chicken food, specifically chick food) which they can eat until they lay their first egg. Water should be ad libitum (always freely available) in a special chick waterer to prevent drowning. You will likely need a heat source. Many people swear by the lamps but mypetchicken.com does not recommend these because of the fire hazard. I used a radiator type brooder hen heater specifically designed for this purpose.
Bring Home Baby Chicks
Many people get their chicks, either sexed or straight run (unknown male and female) from their local feed store (like Tractor Supply Co) or online and have them shipped. The only online retailer that I know of that does small orders, below 25 which is usually too many for an urban setting, is mypetchicken.com. Even then, they do not ship until its warm enough for them to survive with smaller numbers in their box. Bring the box home and safely open in the protected area. Put their beaks gently in the water and then pretend to “peck” at the food so they know where to find the food and water. This video from Guildbrook Farm is amazing!
Build a Coop & Run (or tractor)
I built a chicken tractor from a YouTube video and compiled the necessary amount of materials for your use should you want to do the same. While I put this as the 4th step, many people would put this first. Definitely you need to have their final outdoor home built and secure before they are old enough to move out. Sometime between 6 and 8 weeks you can start to move them outdoors to their permanent home. If you have a permanent coop and run or a permanent coop and a good secure backyard you need to put them in the coop for a couple of days for the first few days before letting them out. This is so they know where “home” is and where to nest at night for safety. I let mine out for a couple of weekends during the day while I was around in their tractor before they finally moved out a little over 6 weeks old. They get 8 square feet per chicken and move to new grass every day or two.
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