Extras recipes

Easy, Delicious Fruit Salad

I love fruits and vegetables year round. And I love that we can get a variety of fruits and vegetables annually. But when it starts warming up, I’m more inclined to eat certain fruits, because they’re seasonal. In addition, many fruits go great together, like this easy, delicious fruit salad.

There are as many different fruit combinations as there are recipes for fruit salad. Furthermore, you can add a dressing or not. However, I don’t, because macerating the fruit is flavorful enough.

various fruits on a counter

Ingredients for Easy, Delicious Fruit Salad

  • 8 0z of blackberries, rinsed and strained
  • 1 each Honeycrisp and Gala apples, washed, cored, and chopped
  • one sliced banana
  • 2 kiwis, washed, peeled, and sliced
  • 1 Bartlett pear, washed, cored and chopped
  • 1 plum, washed, cored, and chopped
  • 6 oz of red seedless grapes, rinsed and strained
  • one orange, washed, peeled, and sliced
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice + 1 tsp Truvia

Instructions for Fruit Salad

many and various cut up fruits in large metal bowl with metal tongs
  • First, in a large bowl, add the fruit, one at a time.
  • Next, add the lemon juice and Truvia. Alternatively, you could use one TBSP of sugar instead; stir thoroughly to mix.
  • Then allow to chill in the refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • And finally, serve and enjoy!

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Chicks Hens raising happy, healthy chickens Roosters

Best Chickens for Beginners

Not long ago I wrote an article about the best chickens for laying eggs. And the past few posts have been on chicks. But if you’re interested in backyard birds and aren’t too concerned about eggs or meat, then I’ll tell you the best chickens for beginners.

You’ll still have to take where you live into consideration. That’s because it will affect the birds you choose. Therefore, if you a pick a breed that has a large comb and wattles, living in a warmer climate will be ideal. Likewise, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, then picking ones with smaller combs would be better.

Further, some of these chickens were mentioned before as excellent egg layers. But all of the ones on today’s list, including the previously mentioned ones, are easy going, simple to care for, and for newbie chicken owners.

Best Chickens for Beginners: Ameraucana

Black Ameraucana hen and rooster eat a banana from person's hand

Ameraucanas are my personal favorite backyard bird. I have the black and red brown varieties. And if hand-raised from chicks, they never forget you. But, even if they weren’t raised from chicks, they learn and adapt quickly. Also, they come in beautiful colors. In addition, they are

  • Dual purpose
  • Lay ~ 200 blue eggs per year
  • Friendly
  • Not generally broody if you’ve gotten them from a hatchery; although I had one red brown one who did go broody; and the one Black Ameraucana chick she raised goes broody annually
  • Have a pea comb, so they do better in winters and in cool climates

Best Birds for Beginners: Australorp

  • Come in 3 varieties
  • Also dual purpose
  • Lay ~ 300 light brown eggs annually
  • Friendly birds
  • Can go broody, so if you want chicks, this is the best brooder
  • Have a single comb, so better suited for warm climates

Best Chickens for Beginners: Barred Plymouth Rock

Barred Plymouth Rock hen
  • Dual purpose
  • Tame and good with children
  • Lay ~ 200 light brown eggs each year
  • Can go broody
  • Also have a single comb, so they do better in warm climates

Best Birds for Beginners: Brahma

close up picture of a black and white Brahma chicken
  • Gentle giants, came from China
  • Dual purpose–used to be what we ate before the modern broiler
  • Very well suited to Northern climate with the pea comb
  • Stands confinement well
  • Can go broody
  • Comes in 3 varieties
  • Lays ~ 150 medium brown eggs annually, producing most during the winter

Best Chickens for Beginners: Cochin

  • Also giant and from China
  • Produces eggs during winter
  • Suitable for northern climates
  • Extremely gentle, including even the roosters
  • Broody; roosters will also brood chicks!
  • Comes in 9 varieties
  • Lays ~ 180 brown eggs yearly

Best Birds for Beginners: Easter Eggers

selective focus photo of a black and brown hen
Photo by RODNAE Productions on
  • Dual purpose
  • Can be broody
  • Can come in a variety of looks
  • Lays ~ 250 colored eggs annually
  • Friendly
  • And combs and wattles will determine climate they’re best suited for

Best Chickens for Beginners: Orpingtons

  • Dual purpose
  • Come in 4 varieties
  • Lays ~ 160 brown eggs yearly
  • Calm and gentle
  • Broody
  • Has a single comb, so does better in warm climates

Best Birds for Beginners: Silkies

close up shot of a white Silkie chicken
Photo by Alex Arabagiu on
  • People primarily have Silkies for exhibition, though in Asia, their meat is considered a delicacy
  • Can go broody
  • Come in 6 varieties
  • Not a big egg layer, however they lay ~ 100 tinted eggs yearly
  • Have small walnut or cushion comb, so cold climates are suitable
  • Cuddly, lap chicken

Best Chickens for Beginners: Sussex

brown and white Sussex rooster on concrete surface
Photo by Engin Akyurt on
  • Dual purpose
  • Come in 3 varieties
  • Lays ~ 230 tinted eggs annually
  • Docile, gentle and friendly
  • Can go broody
  • And has a single comb, so warm weather is more suitable

In Summary

So you see there are a number of backyard birds that would be great for first time chicken keepers. Additionally, most of them still produce a lot of eggs. And they’re friendly. Some even look and act like they could be lap pets.

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Extras recipes

How to Boil Farm Fresh Eggs so They Peel Easy

Whether scrambled, over-easy, sunny-side up, or boiled, eggs are delicious, nutritious, and versatile. Especially farm fresh eggs. But how to boil farm fresh eggs so they peel easy, that’s the question. Is there a trick to it? Well, a few actually.

It has to do with the age of the eggs. You see, eggs in the grocery store are a lot older than eggs that are collected from backyard farms. And the older they are, the easier they are to peel. You’ll also get the sulfur smell with the aging of eggs. However we don’t have to get into all of that.

Another thing to consider is the eggshell color. Since some shells are naturally denser or harder than others, that will also affect how easy it is to peel. For instance, most of our chickens lay blue eggs. And I have found that those shells and the Maran shells tend to be more difficult to crack. Thus, the eggshell color of your eggs will likely determine the best solution for you.

multi-colored eggs in a red container
These are eggs we collect in a coffee can: and they consist of duck, Maran, ‘Cauna, and Barred Rock eggs.

Boiling Farm Fresh Eggs to Peel Easy: 1st Method

  • Pick your eggs & leave them on the counter, unwashed for 3 or 4 days.
  • Next, on the 3rd or 4th day, put your eggs in a pot; and cover with salted water.
  • Then when the water gets to a roiling boil, turn off stove; and remove pot from heat.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes, then allow pot to cool before draining water. Next, rinse eggs with cold water.
  • Finally, peel and enjoy!

The above method is what I used to use. But after trying the other methods, I won’t go back.

multi-colored farm fresh eggs in a pot of water
Eggs cooling after being boiled.

Boiling Farm Fresh Eggs so They Peel Easy: 2nd Method

  • Gather your eggs, and DON’T wait for them to age
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil
  • Put a steamer basket, or strainer, with your eggs over the boiling water
  • Cover and allow to steam for ~ 20 minutes
  • Then remove from heat
  • And cool eggs before peeling
multi-colored farm fresh eggs in a blue styrofoam egg carton
Finally, the eggs are finished.

There’s another option that recommends boiling the eggs in a regular pan (not pot), but letting the pan remain on the stove for 20 minutes. Then shake the pan, while the shaking cracks the eggshells. And finally, cooling the eggs under cold water. Both this method and the 2nd method don’t require waiting for the eggs to age. Here’s the link if you want the instructions.

So now you understand that it’s the egg’s freshness that makes it so difficult to peel. And what makes it so yummy also makes it a drag sometimes to eat in certain ways. But now you also know how to boil farm fresh eggs so they peel easy. Did you have any tricks you want to share about boiling and peeling farm fresh eggs?

Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed this, please don’t forget to like, post a comment, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Chicks raising happy, healthy chickens

Common Chick Problems

Whether you just started raising chicks, or have been for many years, it’s possible you’ve seen some common chick problems. Especially if you had or have a large brood. And similar to adult birds, there are some issues they’re prone to when they’re very young. However, most are preventable. Therefore, with the proper care and attention, they should be ok.

Common Chick Problems: Dehydration

One of the most common issues day-old chicks can suffer is dehydration. But it seems to be more prevalent in cases where chicks are shipped. And some people believe dehydration in day-old chicks occurs when their body temperature exceeds 104°; normal is 103°.

How to Prevent Dehydration

Make sure the temperature in the brooder is ideal: that all of the chicks are either moving around, eating, drinking, or sleeping. But not as far away from the heat source as possible, with their wings spread out, and panting.

Treating Dehydration

packages of electrolytes for baby chicks

Signs you have a dehydrated chick:

  • Panting
  • Sleepiness
  • Isolation
  • Refusal to eat and drink

If you have a dehydrated chick, remove it from the heat, wrap it in a towel, and administer electrolytes, with a medicine dropper if necessary, one drop at a time.

Common Chick Problems: Pasty Butt

Another common condition in new chicks is pasty or sticky butt. Actually it goes by a few names. But it’s basically when chick poo sticks to their vents or bottoms. And it can be serious if left untreated, because it can clog them up.

Preventing Pasty Butt

Make sure the temperature of their water in the brooder is ~ 95-100°. Shipped chicks are more apt to be dehydrated and get chilled. So if their first drink is cool or cold, they’re also more likely to get pasty butt. Also, be sure they are drinking well before they start eating. Further, add 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar per quart of water for the chicks’ first week of life to minimize the risk of pasting.

In addition, keep proper brooder temperatures. In the first week, you want to start at 95°. And every week reduce the temperature by 5°. But the main thing is to observe the chicks’ behavior. If they’re happy and comfortable, they will sound happy and contented. However, if they’re uncomfortable, one way or another, they’ll let you know.

Treating Pasty Bottom

container of petroleum jelly

But if you have any chicks who currently have Pasty Butt, clean them up before it hardens. Run a light stream of warm water over their bottom. Next, carefully pick off the mess with your fingers. But be mindful not to tear out any down or rip the delicate skin. However, if the poo has already hardened, you may have to pick a little off at a time, intermittently adding warm water. And when you’re done, apply Vaseline to the chick’s bottom to keep the area from being irritated and to keep poop from sticking.

If you have any chicks with frequent Pasty Butt, it could be their diet. And you might have to switch their feed.

Common Chick Problems: Coccidiosis

Coccidia are a protozoan parasite that attack the intestinal tract. And Coccidiosis is a worldwide issue, affecting large and small flocks. But adult chickens usually have immunity to the ones in your own yard. Which means, baby chicks could be wiped out if they’re exposed to coccidia from your chickens or someone else’s, because immunity is a process.

Symptoms of Coccidiosis in chicks include listlessness, huddling, paleness, bloody or even foamy droppings, and comparatively smaller chicks if they’re all the same age.

To Prevent Coccidiosis

medicated chick starter
  • Either vaccinate day-old chicks or give them medicated feed, but don’t do both. Because, if you do both, it negates their effectiveness, and the chicks won’t be protected at all.
  • Keep brooders clean and dry.
  • Provide fresh, clean water daily.
  • Make sure there’s enough space for the chicks.
  • Provide enough ventilation to dry the litter/bedding material.
  • Encourage immunity by introducing chicks progressively to your existing flock by 4 weeks old.
  • Provide probiotics in chick water.
  • Quarantine new flock members for at least a week. And restrict access to your birds’ yard by other chicken farmers. Also, don’t share equipment.
  • And don’t toss food or treats on the ground, because it can get contaminated.

Treating Coccidiosis

Signs of Coccidiosis in chicks are ruffled feathers, diarrhea that can be bloody, lack of appetite, sleepiness, and droopiness. So if you have any chicks that you suspect have Coccidiosis, then set up a separate “sick” brooder, to prevent spreading it further. Then buy Corid, which is the brand name for Amprolium, or Ampromed-P from Valley Vet. Treat the whole brood, not just the ill chick. 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water. And it must be the only water option for 5 days.

After treatment, give the chicks a vitamin supplement like Nutri Drench.

Common Chick Problems: Marek’s Disease

sketch of Marek's disease

This sickness is a highly contagious disease that causes immunosuppression and neurological disorders in birds. Generally young chickens are more at risk from one day old to one month. You may not see signs for 3 to 6 weeks, but symptoms of Marek’s include

  • Paralysis: loss of motor control, staggered movements in either one or both legs with inability to stand or balance
  • Immunosuppression: makes birds more vulnerable to other illnesses
  • Wry or twisted neck when cervical nerve is involved
  • Trouble eating and breathing
  • Tumors in lungs, liver, kidneys, or ovaries; and skin lesions or bleeding feather follicles
  • Discolored iris, deformed pupils, or blindness
  • Weight loss, loose watery, and/or bright green stools
  • And brain swelling

To Prevent Marek’s Disease

There’s a vaccine for Marek’s disease, however it has to be given no later than day one of hatching. But Marek’s disease isn’t 100% preventable, even with vaccines. Vaccinated birds might never get sick. But if chickens are exposed to the virus, whether or not they’re vaccinated, they can still get the virus and infect other birds.

So practice good biosecurity: Keep your coop clean, and have designated shoes for your chicken yard. And wash your hands when visiting other chicken yards. Then change your clothes after those visits. And don’t forget to quarantine birds before introducing them to your flock.

Treating Marek’s Disease

There’s no cure for Marek’s disease, however you need to separate the chick from the rest of the brood. Although, just remember there are several issues that can mimic Marek’s disease. And disinfect with a virucidal product, and wear PPE gear to protect yourself.

Common Chick Problems: Pullorum

Pullorum disease is caused by the Salmonella bacteria. And it’s also highly contagious. In addition, it can be spread from hen to baby chick through the egg. But it can also be spread by contaminated feed, water, rodents, game birds, contaminated clothing, shoes, and equipment.

Symptoms of Pullorum in chicks is lack of appetite, huddling, weakness, and white diarrhea. Furthermore, mortality is very high within the first 2 weeks, including in the incubator.

To Prevent Pullorum

Buy hatching eggs from a reliable source. And keep your coop and run clean and dry. Additionally, practice good biosecurity. Also, keep your flock’s food and water away from wild game birds.

Treating Pullorum

paper cutout of viruses and warning inscription
Photo by Monstera on

Currently the recommended treatment is euthanizing your flock, since it’s very contagious, and to prevent further outbreaks. And then you must disinfect with a virucidal product; remember to wear PPE. Also, in some states, you’re required to report the disease to the authorities.

Common Chick Problems: Aspergillosis

This is a fungal disease that causes pneumonia in chicks, so it’s routinely called “brooder pneumonia.” The fungus, Aspergillus, can live in feed, bedding, and even animal tissue. It produces spores, which spread through the air, only to germinate, to complete its fungal life cycle. Aspergillus spores can be inhaled by healthy birds and mammals and be completely harmless. Though, there are a couple of factors that can change this.

  • A habitat with high levels of spores can overwhelm the body’s natural defenses, such as day-old chicks in brooders.
  • Birds with other illnesses are more at-risk to infection.
  • Situational factors, including extreme cold, high levels of ammonia or dust can stress birds and lower their immune function. And this lowers their ability to fight infections, increasing the likelihood of developing aspergillosis.
  • And if you have chickens or chicks on antibiotics, they will be more vulnerable to aspergillosis, because antibiotics kill all bacteria, including ones in the respiratory tract.

Symptoms of aspergillosis included gasping, open-mouthed breathing, lack of appetite, increased thirst, drowsiness, eye swelling, blindness, and/or wry neck.

To Prevent Aspergillosis

Practice good sanitation by cleaning and disinfecting brooders and incubators. Also clean feeders and waterers and replace with new feed and fresh, clean water. Store feed in dry, clean containers, free from dust. And replace bedding regularly, especially if wet.

Treating Aspergillosis

Symptoms of aspergillosis in chicks include weakness, gasping for breath, and sudden death. So if you think you have a chick infected with aspergillosis, you should call your veterinarian. Anti-fungals, like Nystatin, are recommended for 4-6 months, but it isn’t clear whether the doses are for adult birds or not. Also, most people might not try the treatment, because it might not work. It takes a long time, and your chicks might not be able to handle it.

Common Chick Problems: Infectious Bronchitis

IBV, or Infectious Bronchitis, is an avian coronavirus that only affects chickens. And it’s commonly referred to as a cold. The virus sheds from infected birds through respiratory secretions and/or feces. And it can spread through the air, food and water, or contact with contaminated equipment and clothing. Symptoms of IBV include

  • Sneezing, coughing, and rattling sounds when breathing
  • Pink-eye and labored breathing, possible facial swelling with simultaneous sinus infection
  • Weak, huddling under heat lamps
  • Not eating while losing weight
  • Depending on the strain, there can be respiratory symptoms, then weakness, ruffled feathers, wet droppings, more water intake, and then death

To Prevent Infectious Bronchitis

syringes with medication on yellow surface
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

There are available vaccines, however there are also many strains. And then multiple boosters are required. Thus, the vaccinations are more ideal for commercial producers, not backyard enthusiasts. Though, for backyard flocks, continue to practice good biosecurity, and keep a clean coop and brooder. And sanitize equipment and shoes you use in the chicken yard. Also, quarantine birds and chicks that show signs of respiratory issues.

Treating Infectious Bronchitis

If you think you have a chick or chicks with IBV, there is no treatment, although antibiotics for 3-5 days might help fight off any secondary infections. But for brooding chicks, it’s a good idea to raise the temperature 5° till symptoms go away. And make sure ill birds aren’t exposed to other stressors. Further, add electrolytes to their water.

Birds can recover, though they can still shed the virus for up to 5 months.

Common Chick Problems: Rot Gut

Rot Gut is caused by toxins produced by Clostridium perfringens, which is a bacteria present in the intestinal tract of birds. And in normal circumstances the good bacteria keep the Clostridium perfringens population small in numbers.

But when the circumstances change in the intestines, Clostridium perfringens increases, toxins are formed, and the disease emerges. Possible causes of Rot Gut are overcrowding in the brooder, diets high in animal by-products, and previous intestinal issues, like Coccidiosis. And symptoms include listlessness, ruffled feathers, rotten smelling diarrhea, and death.

To Prevent Rot Gut

head of an Ameraucana hen wearing a crown
This is our hen, Smiley, wearing a crown, courtesy of Sarah Smith.
  • Treat your birds like kings and queens with plenty of space, new food, and fresh, clean water daily. Also, either vaccinate the chicks for Coccidiosis or provide medicated chick starter.
  • Keep the coop and/or brooder clean and well ventilated.
  • And monitor your birds frequently for illnesses or anything out of the ordinary.

Treating Rot Gut

If you have a bird or chick you suspect has Rot Gut, bacitracin, penicillin, or lincomycin can be used. But the disease advances quickly, often causing permanent intestinal damage. So it’s easier to prevent it before it happens, then try to stop it once it’s in your yard or brooder.

Common Chick Problems: Mushy Chick Disease

Mushy chick disease, aka navel-yolk sac infection and omphalitis, is caused by many different bacteria. Naval deformity in newly hatched chicks makes an opening for any and all bacteria. And artificially hatched chicks are more at-risk for this than naturally hatched chicks. In addition, symptoms can be different depending on the particular bacteria, but can include

  • Droopy heads
  • Not eating
  • Offensive odor
  • Swollen or distended, leaky navel
  • Open navels
  • Weak, huddling under heat source
  • And death often starts at hatching

To Prevent Mushy Chick Disease

shallow focus photography of person holding chick
Photo by mehmet ünlü on

This disease is totally preventable by good hygiene practice. Therefore,

  • Avoid egg sweating, because bacteria can then penetrate the shell
  • Clean and disinfect equipment, incubators, and brooders
  • Don’t incubate dirty eggs
  • Apply iodine to any unhealed navels
  • And don’t transfer newly hatched chicks to the brooder until they’ve fluffed out

Treating Mushy Chick Disease

Similar to Pullorum, Mushy Chick Disease doesn’t have an agreed upon treatment. Most people humanely cull their sick birds rather than trying to treat them. And that’s because there are many different strains of bacteria that can cause it. So, if you’re dealing with Mushy Chick Disease, by the time you find out which strain you’re dealing with, the chicks might already be dead.

With that being said, add electrolytes to the water, keep the brooder bedding dry, by changing it often, and make sure there’s good ventilation.

Common Chick Problems: Splayed Legs and Curled Toes

Splayed, or spraddle, leg is basically muscle weakness in the legs and feet. It looks like the chick’s legs are to the side, making it unable to walk. And it can be caused by inconsistent temperatures during incubation, slick surfaces in the brooder, or a vitamin deficiency.

Additionally, chicks can hatch with either crooked, curled toes, or curly toe paralysis. Or they can develop crooked or curled toes after hatching. And the same things that cause splayed leg also cause toe problems. Symptoms of curly toe paralysis include a sudden appearance of chicks walking on their hocks, while chicks with crooked toes will have one or more toes that curve sideways, making them walk on the sides of those toes.

To Prevent Splayed Leg

  • Provide good, high quality feed to your backyard birds. And limit the treats to snack-size portions only.
  • Before incubating, calibrate a separate thermometer; and then place that in the incubator to monitor the temperature. Further, have a back-up plan in the event the power goes out.
  • Avoid slick surfaces in the incubator during hatching, and also in the brooder. Provide either pine shavings, sand, paper towels, cloth, or small animal paper bedding.
  • And provide adequate space and heat in the brooder. Because, if chicks get chilled, they’ll huddle together. And in some cases, chicks could stack on top of each other, hurting the ones below.

To Prevent Curly Toe Paralysis and Crooked Toes

Follow the same guidelines above, in preventing splayed legs, when also preventing curly toe paralysis and crooked toes:

  • Provide high quality feed to breeding hens
  • Have stable temperature in the incubator
  • And avoid slick surfaces and crowding in the brooder

Treating Splayed Leg

Splayed leg is treatable, and the younger the chicks are, the better the results. The main thing is to make a leg brace to restrict movement. You can use a Bandaid, Vetrap, a hair tie, or a rubber band to bind the chick’s legs together in a normal position. But be sure the legs are in the correct position and that the brace isn’t too confining. Then change the brace every 24 hours to check how the legs are progressing. And make a new one if needed.

Treating Curly Toe Paralysis and Crooked Toes

black baby chick wearing cardboard shoes
This was Baby Nay, when he was first hatched.

To treat crooked toes in chicks, you need to align the toes correctly, then use Vetrap to keep them in place. Then leave the Vetrap on for ~ 24-48 hours to check your progress.

Curly toe paralysis can be cured the same way as crooked toes, with Vetrap or a Bandaid shoe, by also straightening and binding the toes. However, you need to supplement with Riboflavin, because this problem is commonly associated with that deficiency. A lot of sites will tell you to make a cardboard “shoe” if more than one toe is involved. Well, we did that with Baby Nay, our rooster whose egg got stepped on. (We had to assist his hatch 8 days early.) And one of his issues was curly toes, so we made him cardboard shoes.

Also, just a few weeks ago we hatched 14 chicks. And the last chick to hatch was kinda wobbly. I wasn’t too concerned, because they’re all kinda wobbly soon after hatching. However she didn’t improve, so I checked out her toes, and noticed she had several curly ones. But instead of making the cardboard shoes, my husband just used Coban, which is similar to Vetrap. It was a lot easier than making cardboard shoes. Plus, it worked better, because it stayed on better. Although if you want to make cardboard shoes,

  • First, place a small piece of cardboard under the chick’s feet.
  • Next, trace the feet.
  • Then cut out the outline of the chick’s feet.
  • And correctly align the chick’s toes before taping them to their shoes.
  • Finally, check after 24-48 hours

Now it’s possible you could have a more advanced case of curly toe paralysis, where the chick is actually walking on its hocks. In this scenario you would need to have a cushion, like foam, for the hocks. So you would secure the foam to the hocks with tape. And then continue making the rest of the shoe.

Signs of Healthy and Sick Chicks

This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, though I tried. But for those of you who are new to this, you might not know what healthy or sick chicks look like. Some symptoms can definitely be obvious, while others not so much. So if you hatch them yourself, whether or not the eggs came from your hens, we’ll cover that first. For the first day of hatching, chicks will be tired. And that’s completely normal, because it takes a lot of energy to hatch out of an egg. They won’t even be interested in drinking or eating for maybe 2 or 3 days. Though, personally, we start offering it by day 2.

After you have the temperature adjusted properly in the brooder, and the chicks have gained their strength, they will have energy appropriate for their ages. And they will start sounding like babies. If you’ve had kids or been around kids, you’ll know what this means. When they’re hungry, thirsty, cold, or hot, they will cry or cheep. Or when something else is wrong, someone is getting bullied, or falls over, they will cry or cheep louder. But my point is that healthy chicks eat, drink, sleep, move around, and yes, they do make noise. The older they get, the noisier they get. However they shouldn’t sound distressed.

Likewise, if you get or have chicks that you purchased or had shipped to you, then their behaviors should resemble chicks that are 2 day or 3 day old chicks: They have energy, they’re eating, drinking, sleeping, etc.

Signs to Watch Out for

But even if you hatched chicks, or had them for more than 48 hours, here are some things to keep an eye on:

  • Sleepiness: sleeping a lot or just standing around
  • Head twisted back over the shoulders could indicate wry neck or stargazing
  • Hunched or ruffled appearance
  • Bad smells: try to determine where the smell is coming from
  • Chicks are huddling: indicates chicks are cold
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody poo
  • Blocked vent: Pasty Butt
  • Rattled, gasping breathing: indicating trouble breathing
  • Problems walking could be toe or leg issues
  • Not eating or drinking
  • Swollen, distended, mushy, smelly navel
  • Panting: indicates chicks are hot
  • And last but not least, if a chick is off by itself, doing any or all of these things is also a cause for concern

To Summarize

There are many common chick problems. And most, if not all, of them can be prevented by regular cleaning and disinfecting brooders and coops. Also, by providing new food and fresh clean water daily, and practicing good biosecurity. Biosecurity, according to the Poultry Extension

refers to the measures taken to prevent the introduction and/or spread of disease in a poultry flock. It is important for every poultry operation to develop, and implement, a biosecurity plan.

But then the article goes on to say more in depth about how to implement that plan. You can check it out here.

Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed this, please like, post a comment, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Chicks raising happy, healthy chickens

Raising Baby Chicks

Recently I wrote an article about incubating chicken eggs. Whether or not you’ve ever experienced hatching chicks, it’s possible you’ve been around day-old chicks. And you can appreciate how raising baby chicks is different from raising adult birds.

In the event you have hatching chicks, or purchase them either from a feed store or a breeder, you first need a brooder. Because, just like incubating chicken eggs, you need a place to put the chicks. And that’s the purpose of the brooder.

The best brooder is a broody hen, because she can hatch and then raise her offspring. However it’s not ideal if you want a surplus of chicks. Or if the eggs aren’t due the same day, or you don’t have a broody hen.

And similar to incubating chicken eggs, temperature is just as important with raising chicks. So, if you purchase a brooder, it will have a heat source. Though, if you make your own, it will need one. But before we get into brooders and heat sources, let’s discuss chicks. How many do you want? Are you raising chickens for eggs? Or are you interested in meat production? Maybe a little of both? And how much space do you have? Having adequate space and shelter are 2 of the most important needs when raising and caring for chickens.

Raising Baby Chicks: Space

several black and white baby chicks eating and stretching in wooden and wire mesh brooder

There doesn’t seem to be much consensus in the chicken community as to how much space individual chicks should have. I’ve seen numbers from 1/2 square foot all the way to 5x that amount or more. However, there’s more agreement when it comes to adult birds. But back to baby chicks. They will grow, so their space should too; plan on them being in their brooders for about 6 weeks.

For example, each year that we’ve hatched our own eggs we always first put the hatchlings in a 2’3″L x 1”6″W x 16″H Rubbermaid box. And we’ve hatched maybe 1-3 broods each year for the past 6 years. However we don’t have big clutches. The first and this last time we had 13-14 chicks each; the biggest broods. And that’s because we like to be able to spend time with the chicks, imprinting on them. Further, if you incubate your own eggs, you have to figure that you’ll get unfertilized eggs as well.

And we don’t keep them in the Rubbermaid box. Currently our newest group is in a 3’2″L x 2’0″W x 22″H wood and wire mesh box. It’s the luxury mobile brooder; it can be moved out to the yard, so everyone can see each other when the time is right.

Now I’m going to cover brooders and heaters.

Brooders and Heaters

baby chicks roosting near chick fountain with red heat lamp giving light in background
This is a nighttime shot.
  • Conventional Hover Brooder: This looks just like a box, hence the Rubbermaid box. You can purchase one or make your own. And if you’re in a hurry, you can use cardboard. Also, the heater used in this type of brooder is infrared, which is ideal for lots of 200 chicks or less. And for every 50-75 chicks, provide a 250-watt red lamp. The red light is better, because it’s easier for the chicks to sleep, and it reduces pecking.
  • Radiant Heater/Brooder: This combusts gas to heat radiant surfaces. Plus, it has more even heat distribution. And it can be used for larger operations.
  • Hot Air Furnace: Forced air heats the air with gas, electricity, water, or diesel, and needs more ventilation. This type is also for larger scale operations.
  • Pancake Heater/Brooder: The Pancake brooder is similar to the Radiant brooder, in that they both use gas. And usually just heats the birds on the floor like the Radiant brooder.

Raising Baby Chicks: Temperature

250 watt red heat lamp sitting on steel diamond mesh

Now that you know about brooders and heaters, until the chicks feather out, the temperature in the brooder needs to start out at ~ 95°. But, week-to-week, decrease it by 5°, so the chicks can begin acclimating. By the time they reach 6 weeks old the temperature should be 65-70°.

You can keep a calibrated thermometer in the brooder. Or you can just watch the chicks and monitor their behavior. If all the chicks are huddled together under the light, cheeping or not, they’re cold. But if they’re spread out far from the light, wings held out from their bodies, and panting, they’re too hot. You want them moving around, displaying normal behavior: eating, drinking, sleeping, and playing. Therefore, if they act like they’re too cold or too hot, you can adjust the position and distance of the lamp until the chicks show you that they feel comfortable.

Furthermore, if using the 250-watt infrared red lamp, then have a back-up in case one goes out. In addition, some sites recommend placing the chicks in an unused room with the door closed. And then others warn of the dangers of this lamp and fires. While the danger is real, especially if out of sight, you should keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep hardware cloth or steel diamond mesh as a lid so the chicks have some ventilation. Also, that way your chicks won’t jump on the lamp. Plus, the lid protects against potential threats, such as pets or other creatures. And the chicks won’t be able to get out.
  • Use a lamp guard, so the hot bulb won’t be touching anything.
  • If you use a clamp, even better! That makes it secure.
  • And if using an extension cord, check for cuts, abrasions, and pinches. Don’t use a damaged cord. If it’s in bad shape, buy a new, thicker gauge extension cord, so it won’t be as prone to damage.
  • Lastly, make sure the fixture is porcelain, not plastic. The difference is whether or not there will be a fire.


small animal paper bedding

Most chicken aficionados recommend pine shavings for chicks. And then switch to straw when they’re adults. In the past I used pine shavings too. However, when we lost our bunny, we had a whole lotta unopened bedding for him. So my husband wanted to use that for the chicks. Let me say, it’s far superior, in my opinion, to pine shavings for little chicks: there’s no dust, smell, and it’s more absorbent. Plus, since it’s paper, it’s safe if the chicks peck at it.

Don’t use newspaper. Not only is it non-absorbent and you’ll have a stinky problem, but it’s slick for the chicks. Thus, they could wind up spraddle or splay legged.

Spread about 2-4″ of litter on the bottom of the brooder. But you don’t need as much during warmer months. Though, if you have chicks when it’s cold, you’ll need more litter to help keep them warm.

Also, chicks are messy, like human babies, except they don’t wear diapers. So, to prevent disease, plan on changing out the bedding regularly. How regularly? I don’t know; that’s going to depend on the number of chicks you have. Obviously the more you have, the more they’ll scratch their feed, poop, pee, and generally make a mess. Additionally, the bigger they get, the bigger and sooner the messes will get.

Raising Baby Chicks: Food and Water

person interacting with baby chicks in a Rubbermaid brooder with chick feeder and fountain
This is one type of chick feeder; but there are others. Or you can make your own.

Always provide fresh, clean water for your chicks in a chick fountain; it’s the easiest set-up. And don’t be surprised to see chick poo in the water. That’s why it’ll need to be cleaned out. Additionally, in all of the broods we’ve had, I’ve never had any chicks who didn’t instinctively know how to drink or eat. But we’ve had a couple that had issues; my rooster who hatched 8 days early, so if we didn’t intervene he would’ve died. Thus, there might be extenuating circumstances where you might have to dip a chick’s beak into the water, to get them started.

Provide chick starter with 18-22% protein, because you want them to get a good start. Further, supply it in a feeder, in an attempt to keep it in one area. But, since chicks already know how to scratch their food, it’ll end up all over the brooder and look like perfectly good food. However, they’ll also poo all over the brooder, including their food. Thus, their poo will need to be removed and feeder refilled.

Their feed comes in medicated or non-medicated; medicated chick starter helps protect against coccidiosis. Though, it’s not a substitute for cleanliness or good practices. Also, their feed contains all the nutrients they need. But after a couple of weeks, if you want, you can try to offer them treats. However, don’t be surprised if they’re scared of you at first and your offerings, unless you have only a very small group. And if they are hand-raised, this is very rewarding, because in the long run they won’t be shy and will associate you with good things.


Several molting baby chicks roosting and eating in a wooden and wire mesh brooder

Chickens, including baby chicks, love to roost when resting. You can add roosting poles a few inches from the bottom of the brooder as early as 2 weeks after hatch day. But not all of them will perch that early.

However, your chicks could be totally different from mine. This is from my own experience and from others with similar flocks. I’ve read about flocks where the chicks were 12 weeks old before they were interested in roosting. So go ahead and offer them; but it’s ok if the chicks aren’t interested.

And you can use different things for roosts: Dowels, 1x1x8″ wood board, bricks, or sticks from your yard. Just make sure they fit the brooder, are secure, and offer enough space per chick. But, trust me, they don’t all roost until they’re older.

Furthermore, chicks look like they’re molting within a few days of hatching, which is good; it means their feathers are coming in. And that also means, on warmer days, you can bring them outside in the sunshine. But if you don’t have a small brood, keep them in a collapsible pen or rabbit cage that they can’t get out of. That’s to keep them safe from predators, including pets, accidents, or getting lost.

We’ve only had 2 broods we didn’t keep enclosed when going outside. And that’s because there were only 4 chicks both times with 3 of us chick-sitting. Otherwise, they’re always locked up at such a young age, because they move too fast and aren’t aware of all the dangers. Remember, at this point, they’re able to fly a little bit!

Raising Baby Chicks: Safe Handling

3 newly hatched chicks on pine shavings next to chick fountain

Should you handle your chicks? How soon and how often? Well, yes, handle your chicks. If you purchase them, ASAP. But if you’re hatching them, wait till they’re ready to be moved to the brooder. However, don’t handle the chicks for very long, especially if they don’t have their feathers, because they’ll be cold. And hold them securely. Don’t walk around or hold them like you would a baby on their backs. Because it causes them distress, and they have difficulty breathing. Here are some other tips for holding chicks:

  • Wash your hands right after holding chicks and chickens.
  • If washing your hands isn’t an option, use hand sanitizer.
  • Supervise children when they are around and holding chicks; quick movements scare chicks.
  • Avoid eating where chickens live; and avoid touching your mouth before washing your hands.
  • And oversee the hand washing of young children.

In Conclusion

Raising baby chicks is a fun and educational experience, one the whole family can enjoy. And they grow so fast. Furthermore, there are things you can do to help your chicks make the transition into adult backyard birds, ensuring their health and production.

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Chicks raising happy, healthy chickens

How to Incubate Chicken Eggs

It’s almost Spring: The grass is getting greener, the weather is turning warmer. And it’s time for growing things and new life, such as new chicks. Generally speaking, you can incubate chicks any time. But most chickens, including Jungle Fowl, breed and then rear their young in spring or summer. So I’m going to go through, step-by-step, on how to incubate chicken eggs.

If you’re wanting to incubate chicken eggs, the first thing you need is an incubator. Before even getting the eggs, you have to have somewhere to deposit them. And there are different options for various budgets and sizes of flocks. However, try to get one from a reputable dealer.

Incubators: How to Incubate Chicken Eggs

old Hovabator incubator for chickens

Incubating chicken eggs takes 21 days. The less expensive incubators are made out of Styrofoam. But some of them aren’t as stable at holding temperature as other kinds, especially if you keep it in a cooler room or one that’s drafty. The first one we got 7 years ago was an inexpensive Hovabator. It worked fine until this season. So we bought a new, forced air incubator with an automatic turner and thermostat.

In addition, there are cabinet style incubators in case you want to hatch hundreds of chicks. Or you can make your own if you enjoy working with your hands.

How Incubators Work

incubator displaying temperature and humidity with chicken eggs

Both temperature and humidity are important for chick development. If the temperature is a little bit low, the chicks will take longer to develop. But if it’s too low, they won’t make it to hatch. Likewise, if the temperature is a little bit high, the chicks will develop faster. However, if the temperature is either too high or just a little high but not enough for the chicks to develop fully, the chicks will end up dying. Also, if there is too much fluctuation in the temperature, or lack of stability, this can cause the chicks to stop developing, and they will not hatch.

Further, for the first 18 days of incubation, the humidity needs to be around 45-55%. But the last 3 days it needs to be raised to 60-65%. If humidity is too low, the chicks will be too weak to hatch. But if humidity is too high, it can similarly affect the chicks. The chicks may not be able to easily move around their eggs or get enough air. And can likewise die.

Temperature: How to Incubate Chicken Eggs

thermometer in glass of ice water

Now before you start hatching chicks, you need to make sure the temperature is correct by calibrating it. This is before you add the eggs. However you need a separate thermometer in order to do this. It’s recommended to have an aquarium thermometer with a probe on it. Although, since Covid, it might be difficult to find.

But if you find one, then fill a glass with ice. Next, add tap water until it’s full; and stir. Wait about 30 secs and then put your thermometer in the glass to check the temperature. And if it reads 32°, it’s correct. But if it’s off, then you’ll have to make mathematical adjustments. Hopefully it won’t be off by much. Therefore, the temperature for a forced air incubator with a fan needs to be 99-100°. And for a still air incubator, the temperature needs to be 100-101°.

Humidity: How to Incubate Chicken Eggs


You also need to calibrate the hygrometer. Again before adding any eggs. You can get a hygrometer at any pet store. Then put a teaspoon of salt in a bottle cap or a small cup. Next, add a few drops of water to moisten it. And enclose that inside a see-through, sealable container, like a ziplock bag, and let it sit for ~ 6 hours. Then check the reading. If it says 75% humidity, it’s correct; if not, you just calculate what the humidity is based on how much it’s off.

Adjusting Humidity

hole in Styrofoam incubator for adding water

Most incubators provide areas to add water. However, keep in mind that if you have a manual thermometer and thermostat, when you add water for humidity, it will lower the temperature. This happened with our first Hovabator. So we would usually just add damp paper towels; the humidity and temperature would stay ideal that way.

Set Up Your Incubator: How to Incubate Chicken Eggs

Now that we’ve covered some basics, it’s time to set up the incubator. Then let it run ~ 24 hours before adding any eggs. Whether it’s new or you’ve used it before, this time period will let you know if it’s running properly. Don’t forget to add your calibrated thermometer and hygrometer to make sure the temperature is correct!

If you are using shipped eggs or refrigerated eggs, make sure they settle ~ 24 hours at room temperature before putting them in the incubator. Adding cold eggs to a warm environment will crack them. And the embryos will not develop.

Also, if you have an incubator with an automatic turner, just be sure to put the eggs in the way the instructions advise. This is intended to to keep the yolk and air sac intact, which will improve hatch-rate. However, if you don’t have an automatic turner, you need to rotate the eggs at least three times daily; more, if you can. Use a Sharpie pen to mark an ‘X’ on the eggs, or something similar, to help you know whether the eggs have been turned the proper number of times.

Candling the Eggs

person holding an egg with a light behind it, showing a fertilized egg; red blob with veins coming from it

After about a week you can candle your eggs and see whether they’re fertilized. Other than when the eggs actually hatch, this is the most egg-citing part of incubating chicken eggs. Although some eggshells are more difficult than others until later on. Maran and ‘Cauna eggs can be very difficult to see anything after only a week.

person holding light behind an egg but unable to tell if it's fertilized or not
This is a Maran egg, so you may not be able to tell that it’s fertile, since it’s so dark.

To candle an egg, it’s best to use a small diameter, very bright flashlight. Next, go to a dark room and place the egg over the light. And if the egg is fertilized, you should see a red blob in the center with veins going out from it. But if you have either a Maran, blue, or green egg, you likely won’t be able to tell at this stage.

person holding light behind an egg and only shows yolk; not fertile
This egg is only a couple of days after incubating; so we don’t know at this point if it’s fertile or not.

From this point on, you can candle the eggs weekly to check on development if you want. As the embryo develops, you will notice it taking up more space in the egg. And if you have one of those thicker or darker shells, you will definitely start seeing something. By day 16, the embryo takes up a lot more of the egg, and is in hatching position.

person holding light behind egg and developed chick but didn't hatch
This embryo either stopped mid-development or just didn’t hatch; I’m not sure which, except that it’s not viable, because it was way past hatch day, and I tried the float test.

However, candling can also show if development stops. There can be different stages that development stops, or even more heartbreaking, they make it to hatch day, and fail to hatch. I recommend giving it a few days, but before discarding them, do a float test. Continue reading for instructions.


This typically refers to the last three days before hatch day. Lockdown is when you want to increase the humidity. And if you have an automatic turner, remove those. If not, then stop rotating the eggs now. Then position the eggs on their sides with the air cell at the top. That’s where the chicks will pip.

You may have read or heard that you should never open the incubator at this point, that your chicks would be ‘shrink-wrapped’ and die. No, you don’t want to open the incubator and leave it open for long periods of time. Although, if you need to add water for humidity or to transfer a chick to the brooder, you shouldn’t have the incubator open for long. And as long as you make sure the temperature and humidity get back up to where they need to be quickly, your chicks should be fine.

chicken egg with small chip out of it, pipped by chick inside
It’s pipped.

Then you just wait. You might get some early hatchers or some late ones. This happens if the temperature was off, but all in all, they should hatch pretty much within a day of each other. They’ll start pipping. And then they’ll unzip their shells, which means they work around the shells in a circle in order to get out. And they can go ~ two days without food and water, because of the nutrients from their yolks. You should wait until they’re completely fluffed out before moving them to the brooder.

chicken egg unzipping, chick inside trying to get out
Unzipping the egg takes a lot of energy. Just be patient for your little chicks.

Some Late or No Hatchers

If you’ve got some late or no hatchers, I would give it extra time. Like 5 extra days at least. Then smell the eggs. And if they pass the sniffer test, then do the float test. It’s kinda similar to the one designed to test bad eggs. However, in this test,

  • Make sure the water is 100° and still before adding the egg you want to test.
  • Next, be positive the egg you’re testing is past its due date and free of pips and cracks. Otherwise, you can drown the chick.
  • Then add the egg, making sure the water settles before adding another late egg.
  • If the egg sinks, it’s a dud and never developed.
  • But if it’s a high floater, like a fishing bobber without weights, it could still be a dud, or the chick died.
  • However, if it’s a low floater, it developed to full-term. Though, something happened, and the chick didn’t make it to hatch.
  • But if it’s a low floater and moving around a lot, the embryo is moving, and the egg is viable. It’s just a late hatcher!

Should You or Shouldn’t You Assist in Hatching?

newly hatched chick in an incubator

There are tons of literature out there insisting you shouldn’t help a chick hatch. However, there’s one article I read that succinctly points out why assisting a hatch is beneficial. Although, at the end of the day, it’s for each person to decide for themselves.

And miracles happen everyday. What one person says will be a tragedy, can actually become the boss of the yard. You just never know. For example, Baby Nay, our now re-homed Maran-Ameraucana mix rooster hatched 8 days early.

A couple of years ago his egg got stepped on by either his mother or another broody hen outside; his ‘mother’ was kinda wacky and didn’t do the best job looking after her eggs. So my youngest brought his egg inside. She and my 19 year old thought he was pipping and unzipping and having trouble. But when Hannah helped out and saw him, she knew something was wrong and was scared. When they consulted with me, as I knew the dates, he was 8 days early. Thus they got him under the heat lamp, and then it was a waiting game. Waiting to see whether he would make it.

Well, I got him some electrolytes when I got home and watched while eventually, that first day he finally sat up. Then he cried a lot. So I kept him snuggled with me for 3 days, just in my arms. That’s probably why he knew his name and wasn’t afraid of people. But most of our birds are that way. That bird lived; in fact, he made it to challenge his dad, and almost killed Megatron if I hadn’t intervened.

So if you made it this far and have chicks, congratulations! And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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Extras recipes

How to Make a Fruit Compote

It’s probable that you’ve tried compote, which can be incorporated with diverse foods. You can eat it over ice cream, yogurt, and oatmeal. Likewise, spread it on other breakfast items, such as pancakes, waffles, and French toast. Or mix it as a filling for desserts, including cakes, or as a topping for cheesecakes. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I need to first tell you how to make a fruit compote.

package of fresh Driscoll's blueberries

With fruit compote you can use really any fruit, frozen, fresh, or dried. However, you might find that berries seem to work best. They’re bite size, easy to clean, and you don’t have to cut them up. My personal favorites are blueberries and blackberries. And I have used both fresh and frozen, whichever I have on hand. Though, for this particular recipe, I bought fresh blueberries.

Also, with fruit compote, you need a sweetener, like sugar, Truvia, or something similar. I used Truvia, so I adjusted the amount needed. And you need a thickening agent, like corn starch, added with water. Those are the basic ingredients. But now we’re going to add them all together.

Fruit Compote Ingredients

fresh blueberries, sugar, spices and spoon in metal saucepan on a stove
  • 4 cups of blueberries
  • 1/4 c of Truvia or 1/2 c sugar
  • 4 tsp of corn starch and 4 tsp of water
  • pinch of allspice, cinnamon, and salt

Fruit Compote Instructions

cooked blueberry compote in metal saucepan with metal spoon on a countertop
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the ingredients, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer, covered 3 minutes or until thick.
  • If you want to take the pan off the heat at this point, you can; I don’t. I let it stay on low heat with the lid off, to get more syrupy for ~ 10 more minutes. Stir occasionally; then remove from heat.
  • Serve as an accompaniment to breakfast, like pancakes, waffles, or French toast. Or add to yogurt, shakes, oatmeal, or even on top of ice cream.

Whatever you put this fruit compote on will taste amazing. I can promise you that! Just give it a try. Plus, it’s so easy to make.

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