Razor Family Farms »

Talk Turkey and Basic Chick Care

Hiding... Turkey in the Straw

A few posts back (Yes, that’s how I keep track of time… it’s sick, I know), I asked for help naming our two new turkeys.  Laws-a-mercy are y’all creative!  I could have spent hours sifting through baby name websites and never come close to the awesomeness of your suggestions.  But we had to narrow it down.

turkey

The only trouble: we couldn’t narrow it down.  So we bought eight more turkeys.  Call it an impulse buy.

I’m guessing that most people don’t think of turkeys when the words “impulse buy” are spoken.  Backyard chickens are the gateway poultry of small-scale farming.  It starts with just a few chicks and then you find yourself with ducks, guineas, turkeys, and peacocks.  Then you are officially an addict.  Every feed store’s roadside sign declaring “We have chicks!” calls to you like sirens from a rocky shore.  One glance at those darling balls of fluff and you’re a goner.  They had you at “peep.”

To escape paying retail but still feed our addiction, we shop online at Ideal Poultry.  This company rocks our little country world with excellent prices, terrific staff, easy to use website, and great policies regarding the male chicks that are often unwanted.  Many hatcheries kill thousands of male chicks each year because most Americans either don’t know how or are unwilling to castrate male poultry.  The females sell and the males are often killed after a few days.  Not Ideal Poultry!!  They add in the male chicks with small orders so that they keep the other chicks alive in shipping (by providing added warmth).  Isn’t that wonderful?

araucana chick

In case you’ve never ordered through a hatchery, I thought it would be wise to give the details:

  • Have some idea of which breed you are looking for before you start buying
  • Select a breed that works with your region and your needs
  • If you are looking for breed characteristics: Henderson’s Chicken Breed Chart
  • Note the shipping dates for each breed that you are interested in and then decide when you want your order shipped
  • A few days before the birds will arrive, call your local post office and let them know about the shipment.  Give them your phone numbers and make sure you will be around for the big day
  • Get an area ready for the chicks with a brooder, heat lamp, bedding, food (chick starter), waterers, liquid vitamin & electrolytes for chicks, feeder trays (you’ll need a two foot feeder tray for every twenty-five birds)
  • Unused troughs, wooden shipping boxes, drained kiddie pools, tough-bins, old aquariums, cages, hutches, and even cardboard boxes are all great to convert into chick pens/brooders

Light & Cat Protection
Caring for your new chicks:

  • Make sure fresh food and clean water is in constant supply
  • Add three tablespoons of sugar for each gallon of water given to the chicks for the first few days
  • Add electrolytes and vitamins to the water, too (You can order liquid chick vitamins from Jeffers)
  • Before releasing the chicks into their pen, dip their beaks into the water so that they know where the water is and it encourages them to return for more
  • The temperature in the brooder should start at 90 degrees Fahrenheit for newly hatched chicks and decrease by 5 degrees daily
  • Chicks distressed from cold or hunger will cheep loudly and insistently
  • Comfortable chicks will pursue their normal activities of walking around, pecking at the food, pecking at the sides of the box, drinking water, and sleeping.
  • Provide a new box with fresh litter or newspaper every day
  • Mix tiny pieces of dark green lettuce, little pieces of grapes or apple, or tiny pieces of bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts in the feed
  • Plan to keep the chicks inside for four to six weeks
  • When they are about a week or two old, they can be put outside for a while on warm days
  • At about four to six weeks the chicks have most of their feathers and can go outside permanently if they have a predator- proof enclosure and a roosting place

Hanging Out

Oh yeah… we also ordered twenty-five more chickens.  Heaven help us.  🙂

  • Rosa - Oh, what adorable chicks! Interesting info… I’d love to have a farm with some turkeys.

    Cheers,

    RosaReplyCancel

  • CrossView - I think we kept Murray McMurray Hatcheries in business our first couple of years. Once Guy bought the incubator, we hatchin’ our own ducks and chickens. But I still can’t resist any new babies at the feed store. Especially the turkey poults….. ;o)ReplyCancel

  • Kath - I didnt make it to the feed store this spring to check out all the new babies there. My kids are getting older tho they still beg to stop and peek while on our way to some event that we are always running late to!!ReplyCancel

  • HeatherJ - Awwwww! They’re so cute!!! I’d be all in feathers if I could ~ I have even found a perfect egg-gathering basket for when I DO have chickens… someday. What did you name them? How on earth will you tell them all apart?~!ReplyCancel

  • Sophie - OOooh Waw,Lacy!!
    This is lovely! God help you with the next order of chickens!
    hahahaha,…

    Many greetings from sunny Brussels, Belgium!

    SophieReplyCancel

  • Dianne - Oh, Lacy, they’re so cute! So, far we just have 11 hens and 1 bully rooster! They’re about 3-4 months old now and I definitely like them…well, okay, I just tolerate the mean ole’ rooster!

    Blessings,
    DianneReplyCancel

  • ellyn - I absolutely love baby birds. My neighbor got ducks this year. They wander over and keep me company while I work around the yard. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • Michele - Good grief girl! You are on a chick-a-thon. JR about had a fit when I showed up one day with a dozen chicks and 4 ducks. 6 months later when those babies started to lay he was the happiest man on the planet. We didn’t eat any of our birds…well…because I don’t eat meat and refuse to kill them. So we kept our numbers low.ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - In my daytimer, on July 9th, it says ‘Pick up chicks’. It didn’t strike me as funny until I came across it a few days later and thought what in the world?, then remembered what that was about. You give some sound advice. Have you used blackstrap molasses in the water instead of sugar? It has some vitamins and minerals in it also. I sometimes give the chickens wet feed, especially if I have drained a noodle pot or potato water into a pail and I will add hot water and some molasses to the drain off, and mix it with their feed. The love it and I think it is good for them 😉 .ReplyCancel

  • Laura - LOL, so what were the names you picked out for the turkeys?ReplyCancel

  • Dee - Aw, your pictures are adorable and your information is great advice.
    Sweet!

    Wishing you a lovely week!
    🙂ReplyCancel

  • ToilingAnt - Don’t forget a few details to prevent/deal with pasted vent and spraddle leg. Good stuff here: http://stitchandboots.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/caring-for-chicks-the-first-six-weeks/ReplyCancel

  • Tia Julie - They are all very cute! I Love the expanding family.ReplyCancel

  • Robbyn - Oh dear, I know we’ll be just this smitten when we’re finally able to have a place that allows animals…I want me some chickens…and turkeys…and guineas…oh my!

    We’re thoroughly enjoying the giveaway book Successful Small-Scale Organic Gardening we won…thank you, thank you, thank you!! 🙂

    RobbynReplyCancel

  • Lyd - Hey! The chicks are adorable!!! I was wondering…I have chickens that I got last year, this year I am going to purchase new chicks along with two turkeys! I pick up the chicks at a local feed store…my question is this; Can the feed store also order me some turkey chicks? if not…where in the world to I get just two turkey chicks! Thank you so much for you help!ReplyCancel

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    looking for a good triple bunk beds routine, avoid the in between eating habits.

    Sinfully Sugary Sweet Bacteria are attracted to sugar stuck on your teeth and gums but your overall health.
    Dental Health Products How can pet owners help reduce or prevent
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