Having backyard chickens has swept the country and is no longer a craze but an established practice in many communities. But not everyone goes out and researches what it takes to take care of those cute little fluff balls. This became all to apparent when my neighbor, after seeing us with hens, was bit by the "oh they are so cute, I would love to get my own eggs" syndrome.
Now don't get me wrong, I love my neighbor and she knows it, but she now has chicks in a kiddy pool in her basement. She was so excited to tell me she got bantam chicks. And that is when I went, oh no! See around here they only sell bantam chicks in straight runs. I know what that means but she did not. She was totally unaware she should have picked some pullets.
A straight run means that there are BOTH sexes in the tub full of fluffy chicks you pick from. Why is this an oh no moment? Well because in our area, by law we are not allowed to keep roosters. Sadly we once ended up with a rooster out of a pullet tub and my son had to go through the heart ache of re-homing him. A tub of pullets mean they have been sexed and are girls (they are about 90% accurate at sexing them.) If you want eggs you need hens, which is what a pullet will be when she grows up and starts laying eggs.
Also, she got bantams. Don't get me wrong they are lovely LITTLE things, that lay LITTLE eggs. It is best to pick a breed that is meant for laying (store size eggs) when you are looking to get eggs to eat, not make cute horderves out of! *giggle* You really need to look at each breed available to you to make sure they have the egg production you're looking for.
Once you figure out what you want and you have bought some fluffy butts, you need a brooder. Don't freak out, it is just a place to put your babies. And yes, a kiddy pool will do for a bit, but they grow and will soon be all over her basement! We used an old guinea pig pen, but you just need something tall enough they can't get out and secure enough your other pets (cats/dogs) can't get in.
You will need bedding for your brooder. Everyone has an opinion on what to use and I am not going to get into a debate about what is best. We use wood shavings. Newspaper just gets to wet, nasty and slippery. You will need a water source and a food dish. You will need food for the little chicks, like Chick Starter. You will also need a heat source since you just became mommy. A heat lamp will fill the bill, just don't hang it too close to the chicks. you will know it is too close if they are all huddled as FAR away from it as they can get.
You need to be prepared to clean as well. For what goes in those adorable little beaks will come out those cute fluffy butts. And as they get older, they will start to smell more and more and you will long for the day when they are big enough and it is warm enough to toss their butts into that backyard of your! What happens when they get to your back yard? Well that my dear friends is a post for another day...........