Your First Chickens or Birds? Advice for Beginning Flock Owners direct from Purely Poultry’s Team
Congratulations! You’ve decided that you are going to start your own flock! We are so excited to share the beauty of poultry with you! To ensure your success, we created a place for you to get all the basic information along with the number one piece of advice for you from each of our team members! You need not do anything additional besides keep reading….
If you are choosing a mixture of birds, please note that the different breeds and varieties may ship separately. Things that, for sure, will ship by themselves for safety purposes are ducklings, bantams, and adult birds, hatching eggs, as well as supplies.
All of our orders ship via USPS as this is the only company that will ship live birds nationwide. All live orders will ship on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday to avoid arriving at a local USPS Office during closed weekend hours. Transit time is usually 48 hours but can take as little as 24 hours or as many as 72. To help keep you informed, Purely Poultry will send an email once your shipment has gone out and you can expect them to arrive within a day or two of receiving this email. Already got that confirmation email? Read it carefully and then go ahead and turn on your heat lamps and get your brooder up to temp to ensure that the floor of the brooder will be warm enough for the new arrivals. 95 Degrees is perfect for the new arrivals!
The birds do very well in transit as they are placed in a live animal crate with bedding and gro-gel (a hydration and nutrition supplement) at just about 12 hours old. They have absorbed the yolk from the egg during hatching and are most nutrient rich at birth, allowing them to survive in nature for a full 72 hours without any sustenance short of heat. If it’s cold enough, we will include 72-hour hot packs in the crate to keep your babies nice and toasty.
When your new birds arrive at your local post office, the post office will call you at a pre-arranged number (usually the one included on your account) and will ask you to pick up the birds. If your shipment is hatching eggs, they will come to your mailbox just as any other large items would come. Please note: we have wonderful success with shipping live birds nationwide. However, we do see about 3% loss across the board on our birds. For this reason, Anna’s number one tip starts with this: “It is important that you do not open the box of babies in front of children if you don’t want to expose them to dead birds. Open the box and inspect them before sharing with those a little more faint of heart.” We have a great track record, but losses can happen from time to time so please be aware of this.
Once you have your birds home, place them in the brooder under a heat lamp with a brooder floor temperature of 99 degrees for the first 3 hours. As you place them in, inspect each one for any injuries or other issues and then dip their beaks in water to show them how to drink. Do this with each chick as you count them. If your purchase includes hatching eggs, place them all, pointy side down, in ambient air temperatures for 24 hours before you place them in the incubator. This allows the air sac in the egg to reconstitute and provide oxygen to the embryo while it develops. If there are any shortages or ill birds, cracked or damaged eggs, or deaths of any number, just reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help get your Guarantee processed quickly.
Once all of your new babies are in their new toasty home drop the temp down to 95 degrees for the first week and lower the temp 5 degrees each week thereafter.
Poultry Advice from the Purely Poultry Team
Anna’s #1 Tip for Newbies:
“Handle the birds as little as possible for the first 48 hours. They have had a long journey and need time to warm up, recover from the trip, and acclimate to their new home.”
If you have birds that seem stressed or ill in any way, add electrolytes to their water and try feeding them some mashed boiled eggs. These eggs contain the closest nutrients to those a mother would provide for the bird and is easy on their tummies. These suggestions work for any age poultry as well.
Shannon O’s # 1 Poultry Tip for Newbies:
“When getting those new fluffy bundles of joy… be sure to have you chicken brooder set up and running smoothly. Make sure you can reach the required warmth at the floor of your brooder. Feed water first for a couple of hours before introducing food to help prevent pasty butt. Only use pine shavings if you choose to go the shaving route for your bedding. Cedar smells good but will make your chickens sick and even can kill them. It is always a good idea to have Save-A-Chick Electrolytes on hand at all times. This has been literally a life saver for my chicks several times. I give this to my chicks in lukewarm water when I get them and any time they have experienced any kind of stress from chick to chickenhood.”
Once your babies are fully feathered, it’s off to the coop with them. If you are introducing them to an existing flock, please check out our Blog Post HERE about Integrating Flocks, and remember to introduce them slowly. Exposing them to one another in a fashion that they do not have actual contact for the first few days and then allowing contact will be the best method.
When determining housing for your birds, check out our Resources Page and Care Guides of space and run requirements. Remember to provide a well insulated, but well-ventilated house along with fresh water at all times and food that meets your bird’s nutrition requirements also found on our care pages HERE.
Ruth’s #1 Poultry Tip for Newbies:
“For backyard flocks of 3 – 6 hens, consider your coop carefully. Chickens poop a lot. You can manage the droppings by either moving your coop around your yard or cleaning them from your coop. If you want to be able to move the coop, you want one with wheels or light enough to lift and move. A removable tray makes removing dirty bedding and droppings easier. A larger run area allows you to move your coop less often, but makes the coop heavier.”
Be sure that your coop is secure from predators as well. Run fencing all around the coop and either dig it into the ground for about 8″ or leave a 12″ “apron” around the bottom of the coop to keep predators from digging under the fence.
Poultry Advice: Tyler’s #1 Poultry Tip for Newbies:
“Lock your birds up at night. Free-ranging means that you do not have protection from predators and predators do like the taste of chickens. There are great automated chicken coop doors on the market that will do it for you. If you do not secure your coop at night, do not be surprised that predators will enter the coop. If you do have losses, there is usually a way to discover what type of animal it was so you know how to fix your coop set-up to be more secure. Motion lights or Nite Eyes Solar Protection Systems placed on or around your coop can help scare predators away.”
Predators will always be the number one reason why we lose members of our flock. From birds of prey to mink, fox, and raccoons, we have to ensure our babies are safe at all times. This need not be as difficult as it may seem, however, as long as you have your “ducks in a row” so to speak. Get your coop and run secure in the beginning and you shouldn’t see any issues later on.
Cassy’s #1 Poultry Tip for Newbies:
“Your family dog can be your easiest predator. Make sure to keep them at bay and fence in your coop appropriately to keep them out!”
If you practice good animal husbandry and care for your birds properly, chickens will live 8+ years, ducks for 10+ years and some birds, such as Swans, will live to be 30 or older. Over the years, your birds will require quality feed, lots of fresh water, and lots of love. In return, your flock will give you eggs, meat, feathers, some income, and lots of entertainment.
Poultry Advice: Shannon M’s #1 Poultry Tip for Newbies:
Don’t stress about your birds. Enjoy them. They are much easier to care for than you think. Handle them often, pet them all over whenever you can, and enjoy them. The more attention you pay to them, the smarter and sweeter they will be. Give them a variety of nutritious treats, especially at dusk to teach them to return to the coop. If you love them, they will love you back.”
When this happens, we have accomplished our mission of “Sharing the Beauty of Poultry”.