CARING FOR YOUR NEW CHICKS
We carry several different breeds of chicks. All the chicks are females, called pullets. Female chickens are called pullets until they start laying eggs, at which point they are called hens. When you purchase your chicks they are very young and you need to think of them as babies with their mother. We’ve all seen hens with the babies huddled under them to keep warm. This is the most important thing with your new chicks. The reason you have to buy at least four chicks is because the need to huddle together to keep warm. You must keep your chicks in a warm place indoors and provide them with some heat. On top of the refrigerator is not enough. Eighty to ninety degrees is the optimum temperature. A incandescent light bulb is the easiest way to go. I find a sixty watt bulb is the safest. A 100 watt bulb can be too hot. The bulb should be about 10” above the chicks head and they will move closer or further away to regulate their own temperature.
When you first start out a plastic tub or container is adequate for your new chicks. Be careful the light bulb does not touch the sides or the plastic will melt. The chicks need clean water and feed at all times, it’s best to use the specially made dishes to keep them from soiling their food and water and becoming sick. I use the medicated chick starter because chicks are prone to respiratory infection when young. We sell this in small bags and large bags. We also sell the proper feed for your chicks for when they are adults. The feed must be kept in a special chick feeder to keep it clean and dry. We sell these. The water should also be kept in a waterer to keep the chicks from walking through it and getting themselves or the floor of the cage wet. We sell these too. Some fine bedding added to the cage will keep the chicks clean and dry. You will see the chicks pecking at the bedding but it will not bother them. We sell this too. Provide a small dish of oyster shell for your chicks. This will provide extra calcium, aid with digestion, and give them something to scratch at. We sell this in small and large bags also.
Once the chicks have gotten some adult feathers they can be placed outdoors, usually at about six weeks. They are still quite fragile at this point and must be kept dry and protected from rain, wind and full sunlight. The nighttime temps should be above 50 when you put your chicks, called starter chicks at this point, outside. They should also be kept in a secure cage with a top to keep animals from getting to them. Continue to feed your chickens a good feed like Pennfield, which is the only brand we carry, the pellets are best, and in about nine to ten months you should start to get some eggs. Have fun with your chickens. They are surprisingly entertaining and easy to care for.
CARING FOR YOUR NEW RABBIT
Rabbits are easy to care for, friendly and lovable pets. All the rabbits I breed are from purebred stock. That means the parents are registered with the American Rabbit Breeders Association and are all pedigreed animals. All my parents are chosen for breed type and characteristics but, more importantly I choose the parents who are the friendliest and who will produce the best family pets.
When you buy your bunny, they will be at least six weeks of age. The babies should not be handled too roughly during the first two weeks but, the more you handle your new pet the friendlier they will become. Many people want to buy two rabbits so they won’t be lonely but, they won’t be lonely if they are handled and played with often.
Must Haves For Your Rabbit
Your rabbit must be fed the same food it has been eating when it was a baby. If you change its food there is a risk it will develop digestive problems. A well built solid cage with an area for the rabbit to get out of the elements is a must if you plan to keep your rabbit outdoors. We sell many kits for both indoor and outdoor cages. Complete with a bunny, prices range from $85 to $220.00. Your rabbit’s cage is best kept in a shady area or at least on the side of the house sheltered form the afternoon sun. Some hay should be kept in the enclosed are of the rabbit hutch, especially in the winter, for both comfort and insulation.
An open water bowl in the outdoor cage is best because it is easier to clean and refill in the winter. Ceramic bowls are best but a durable plastic bowl works well too. We stock both as well as water bottles for indoor use. A feeder hung on the side of the cage is easiest and best. It will keep the feed dry and it is easy to fill from outside the cage, just lift the lid and fill with a scoop. Keep your rabbits feed in a tightly sealed container. If left in the bag it can get wet and moldy and should not be fed to your pet. We sell a metal can with a lid that will hold a fifty pound bag of food which has the added benefit of being able to keep it outdoors next to the cage and being impenetrable to the neighborhood squirrels and mice. Don’t forget the feed scoop.
Some Never Do’s
Never change your rabbits feed when you first bring it home
Never over-feed greens to a very young rabbit
Never leave your pet outside in full sun for hours and hours
Never make very loud noises around your pet (chainsaw next to cage)
Never feed moldy food to your rabbit
Never leave your rabbit loose in the yard for long periods
Never leave your rabbit without fresh water
Rabbits are perfectly happy outdoors in the winter. They should be provided with some good shelter and some fresh hay to keep them warm. Two water bowls is a good idea in the winter. One to put fresh water in, and one to leave to thaw out upside down. Water must be changed daily if frozen. Keep the cage protected from winter winds. Winter winds come from the North and West so the cage is best kept on the Southern or Eastern side of the house.
I’ve been keeping and breeding rabbits since I was ten and I think they are one of the easiest gentlest pets you can have. So, get yourself a bunny and have some fun. Jim Pope