A Better Way to Raise Chicks

Reader Contribution by Lindsay
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One of the greatest perks to being a creative genius is that you can pretty much do anything that you like, with whatever you have, as long as it works. I like to think that my husband and I are creative geniuses. Recently we have created a chicken coop out of pallets and reclaimed tin roofing; we built a rabbit hutch out of reclaimed lumber and tin, free cages and feeders, and worm bins; and we have innovated a new way of raising store-bought chicks.

I want to start by saying that my husband REALLY doesn’t like to clean up poop. That is why we are using worm bins under our rabbit cages. That is why we have chicken tractors and a moveable coop. We don’t keep our cats indoors so we don’t have to worry about a litter box (not to mention I’m allergic), and we let our dog range when it’s time to do her business. They have the whole 5 acres to do their business, and unless it’s on a walk way, we don’t have to worry about it!

So far we’ve been successful in avoiding having to handle a lot of poop. Of course you have to deal with it. Poop is a part of life. But we don’t have to do it very often!

When it came to getting chicks, my sweet husband devised a plan where we could use a worm bin under the baby chicks. The worms and kitchen scraps could feed the chicks, the worms would compost the chick poo, and we wouldn’t have to change the chick bedding. It seemed like a real win-win.

Mostly it worked out great, but we had too many chicks in too small of an area and they did start to smell like stinky chicks towards the end. I think that part of the problem was that we didn’t shred our newspaper up fine enough. I also think that we ran out of worms! All in all it was a pretty successful venture, but I would definitely do things differently if I do it again.

Here are some things that we learned along the way:

1.) Put your chicks and worms in an appropriately sized box, and make sure that you have a good 8 to 10 inches of worms and dirt on the bottom of your container. Too many chicks in too small of a container with not enough worms can really put a damper on your plans for not smelling them!

2.) Use wood shavings instead of newspaper, or else shred the newspaper up really fine. If you don’t you’ll have compaction problems.

3.) Be sure to use a cultivator to mix up the worm dirt/chick bedding every other day or so. When you mix it up, you are teaching the chicks how to scratch, keeping the bedding from getting compacted, and giving the worms and the chicks an opportunity to eat more food!

You will still have to provide your chicks with feed and grain, but with any luck you will definitely cut the feed costs by quite a bit. AND you won’t have to worry about cleaning up a bunch of chick poop!

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