So what exactly is chick fever? Well if you don't know, you have never had it. And while some may say you’re lucky, others will feel pity for you. Once you get it, you may never be able to get rid of it. You see, chick fever is the overwhelming desire to get baby chicks, by any means necessary. You can hatch your own, buy them at local feed stores and even order them through the mail.
But how does one become inflicted with this infirmity? Well the first time you catch it, it could be just by walking by a pen full of day old chicks at Tractor Supply. But once you have it, each year you will get the itch again when your Facebook newsfeed starts filling with photos of chicks your friends just brought home. Yes, your newsfeed will fill up with baby chicks, because once you get chicks, you start hanging out a new crowd of people who have chicks, because your “normal” friends and family just don’t “get it.”
You will look at these little bundles of puff and go “awwwww!” Or maybe you will walk through a feed store and spy the empty containers with the heat lamps ready to go for the first shipment of spring chicks. Of course you HAVE to find an employee and ask when said bundle of joy are expected. And you WILL end up "popping" by on that date "just to see what they have."
Be warned, the fever can escalate!!!!
What starts as a “Gee I want to have some chickens,” will quickly turn into a kid in a candy store situation. The different breeds, colors, egg colors, etc. You will want one of these and two of those. You will start requesting hatchery catalogs just so you can curl up with a blanket on those cold winter night and dream of what to add to your flock. Heck the oldest country kid wants a Dorking, just because of its name!
For those of us who have already fallen victim to chick fever, we know what needs to be done. But for those of you who might catch chick fever for the first time this year, you need to be prepared. You may not be able to walk out of that feed store without chicks. You may think you have great will power but in the face of cuteness, you will crack. So what do you need to be ready?
As with any animal you bring into your family, it is a serious decision to undertake the care and well-being of another living thing. While chicks are cute, make sure you can LEGALLY have them where you live BEFORE you buy any. Be prepared to feed and water, clean the coop, and collect the eggs….. even in winter. Some days when it is below zero (like -20) I go out ever few hours to make sure our birds have plenty of water. Water is VERY important to chickens and egg production. If you can’t see yourself, frozen finger tips and all, then chicks might not before you.
You will need a broader for your chicks. You just became their mom and you can’t sit on them, but you have to keep them warm. There are different options out there for doing this. We just use a rubber tote and a heat lamp. Anything can be used to make a broader. We have used a guinea pig pen before. You are going to need bedding for them, like wood shavings. They will need a water source and feed made just for chicks.
Be aware that these oh so cute little things will poop, often. And as they grow, they go through an ugly phase as they grow their feathers in. You will need to provide not only for their daily care, but for their safety too. Wild predators aren't the only ones you have to be on the lookout for. Your cat or dog might just love a chicken nugget.
***WARNING*** Chick fever CAN mutate into the deep desire for other types of poultry, usually of the aquatic kind. Yes I am talking ducklings. Be warned!
**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**