To many of you, the title of this article is pure heresy. “What?! Chicks are loveable and adorable and just so sweet! How can chicks be no fun?” Part of the reason for this article is for fun, because many of us just have to laugh about the situations we end up with and keep on going. But part of the reason for this article is to provide information to prepare yourself with and reassurance to give you the gumption not to give up on your problem chicks when they inevitably come along.
Chicks Can Be No Fun When They Get Sick
Illness can definitely be a time when chicks are no fun. Whether it’s poopy butts or bubbly eyes, it can be very demoralizing when your chicks get sick for some unexplained reason. They can be fairly high maintenance when you’re trying to nurse the sick ones, and you can easily feel like you’re always a step behind when you’re trying to separate those that are sick to keep them from infecting the rest.
If you’re a first-timer with chicks, you might not realize an illness is progressing until it’s too late. Don’t beat yourself up too badly over this – if you weren’t raised on a farm or in a veterinary clinic, you probably will not have this knowledge until the thing happens. You probably won’t know what diseases or conditions occur in your geographical location until a bird develops it. And you probably won’t know how to properly treat it until you’ve improperly treated it once or twice – enough to figure out how to tell the difference between ailments. You can research potential diseases, as well as causes and treatments, practice good bio-security, get your chicks vaccinated, and still end up with an illness in your flock. It happens, and you could end up needing to hand-feed and medicate these little feathered fiends that you brought into your life for the joy they were supposed to give you…
To keep your spirits up, see if you can share the treatment schedule with other family members. Kids who are too young to handle chicks for feeding or medical administration might be able to help with things like changing out bedding, checking the brooder temperature, or topping off the water and food for the not-sick chicks. Older kids and spouses might be willing to learn how to gently clean chicks, or even lightly drip water or medication from a syringe. Maybe other family members can help prepare softened feed or electrolyte/vitamin water. Even offloading one tiny simple task means one less thing you personally have to do.
Chicks Can Be No Fun When There Are Too Many
Chicken math is a thing – it’s a non-accusatory name for poor decision-making! We all do it, so first off, you’re not alone in your poor choices. None of us really knows how many chickens are too many until we run into a problem we didn’t anticipate that boils down to “we weren’t ready for this many yet.”
When we first start out, we can operate our chicken “enterprise” for quite a while with less than optimal infrastructure until we hit “critical mass” – that point where too many chickens demonstrate where we failed to plan adequately. This can be as simple as running out of feed too soon and as complex as birds becoming restless and agitated because of overcrowding or mixing too many of widely varying ages.
The easiest way to address the problem of too many chicks (or chickens) is to start sharing them. Craigslist and Nextdoor are websites that can help you find new homes for chickens you might need to rehome somewhere else. Facebook can be useful if you simply want to give some birds away. You can also look up poultry swaps in your area on Facebook or maybe find local farm animal auctions, but be prepared to pay a small fee to have birds you bring tested before you can enter. If you need to move some older chickens aside to make room for chicks, you might consider processing them for meat.
** Bonus Info ** Just a note about trying to sell your birds online. You can’t openly advertise animal sales on Facebook so don’t try that tactic until you’ve become familiar with the ways that Facebook Groups work around this restriction, otherwise you’ll get booted from the group when the administrator gets notified of your offending posts. Anything you post regarding animals can’t include dollar signs or “sales language.”
Chicks Can Be No Fun When You Get Sick
Ordering live poultry online for delivery at some future date is a complicated business. You not only have to choose your chicks, but you have to choose a date in the future on which to receive them. There are a lot of things that can happen in your life in between the time you order your chicks and the time they show up, and beyond.
If your health or home situation goes sideways before your chicks are delivered, contact the hatchery to explain the situation as soon as possible. Most hatcheries have a minimum cutoff date for order cancellations because, well, once the eggs are put into incubation, they are going to hatch. There’s no guarantee the hatchery will be able to find a new home for the chicks you ordered, so everyone is better served by not procrastinating that phone call.
In the event you don’t make that phone call in time or your situation changes after you’ve got your flock, you might be able to find a home for the entire group among neighbors, family, or social media contacts. In extreme cases, some animal shelters will take poultry but that should be a last resort. You might want to search on Facebook for groups in your area for folks who raise the specific breed(s) you acquired, or look up 4H groups. You can find local 4H by contacting your county extension office. You might also consider the poultry swap/livestock auction options if you are in a position to afford testing the flock.
There’s also the old-fashioned bulletin board – local feed stores and grocery stores, especially in small towns, usually maintain a corkboard where folks can put up small for-sale notices. If you live in a city, try an ad on Craigslist in the Farm & Garden category or post in Free Stuff if you’re giving them away.
Chicks Are More Fun When…
You are properly prepared: do your homework, make sure you have room for the chicks you want to get, and make sure you understand the nature of the commitment you’re about to make to those little fluffy butts! Read, watch YouTube videos, visit websites, and learn what you can about not only the chickens you might want, but chickens appropriate for your area, your climate, and your eventual purpose.
You think realistically: don’t swamp yourself with too much, too fast. Success with half a dozen chicks doesn’t multiply nicely into success with two dozen. Chicken math also applies to the amount of work you have to do. It’s not a proportional increase, it’s an exponential one! Having a big barn on your new homestead that you *can* fill up with chickens doesn’t necessarily mean you *should* fill it up with chickens.
You give yourself a break: this probably sounds funny right after saying you are assuming this huge responsibility, but you can’t take care of your babies if you aren’t taking care of yourself. At some point you will feel a little burnout, and you might even start to resent those cackling pains in the backside as you’re forking over your hard-earned “dollar two-fifty” in egg money on more layer pellets. Everyone gets tired of the grind from time to time. Turn over the chores to someone else for a day or two. Consider this: if you ever want to take a vacation, you’re going to have to find a farm-sitter, so find one to come in and do your chores for a couple of days while you are NOT on vacation so you can see how they work for you.
Have you run across other instances where your chick adventure was perhaps not as fun as you thought it was going to be? What happened and how did you handle it? Let us know in the comments!