It is that time of year once again, when the local feed stores become the poultry-agrarian version of a petting-zoo. Children all over the edges of the Kansas City area will be begging their parents to take them to the local Tractor Supply Store or Orscheln's to visit the peeping, squee-filled troughs filled with little fuzzy chicks, ducklings, turkey poults and guinea keets.
Local feed stores report they'll expect to find chicks arriving the third week of February.
The bins and cages with hundreds of fuzzy-bums are impossible to view without 'oohs' and 'ahhs,' which often become sighs as parents cave and allow a cardboard box of chirping joy to accompany the family returning home. Many Kansas City metropolitan cities have ordinances that allow backyard flocks under certain conditions, including the new ordinance in Roeland Park.
If bringing chicks home, there are some basics for early chick-care and things to consider:
- Chicks must be kept 100F degrees for the first week, 5F degrees less is required each week thereafter. Heat lamps are available at the feed store and pet stores.
- Chicks must be fed medicated chicks starter exclusively, available at the feed store.
- Clean water must be available at all times, preferably in a chick 'drinker' which prevents accidental drownings.
- Chicks double in size each week, so growth consideration should be given to brooder size and density. Ducklings grow even faster, and make a watery mess in the brooder.
- Chicks can go outside with a heat source prior to complete juvenile feathering- at around 8-10 weeks for most breeds.
- Breeds for suburban flock choices should not include bantams without feathered legs or breeds that can fly easily unless a covered run or fully enclosed habitat is provided, to prevent escapees.
- City ordinances may allow backyard chickens, but neighborhood associations may exclude them. Examine all laws and ordinances that regulate the neighborhood prior to getting chicks.
Up next: How-to: Caring for chicks