Beginner’s Mistake: My First Time Raising Heritage Chicken

If you are trying to raise heritage chickens for the first time, read and this might be able to save you a lot of money, time, and lives of your precious chicks.

A bit of a background

I grew up on a rural farm in Negros Occidental pasturing carabao and goats during my childhood years until highschool. We had lots of native chickens. My late father was a gaffer (mananari). Raising chickens was not new to me but life had changed after I graduated from college and worked here in Batangas for more than 20 years now. I am a licensed teacher but never had a chance to work in school because I was employed in manufacturing right after graduation.

Since 2010, I have always had native chickens with some 45-days old broilers in my backyard for personal consumption. But in January 2020 after Taal had erupted, I became interested in raising heritage chicken after seeing the pitiful animals devastated by the Taal eruption. To make the story short, I bought 26 day-old heritage chicks last February 9, 2020.

I didn’t have a brooder so I assembled a temporary plywood box and placed it outside. I didn’t have a chicken house either.

The problem started when rats attacked my chicks. On the first night, I lost 3 chicks. I fixed the problem but the rats were still able to reach my chicks by pulling their legs under the screen. This, when I realized that even if the rats cannot enter the brooder, they were still able to make damage because of the gap on the flooring which is made of the screen and was just 1 foot high from the ground.

The next week I lost another three chicks all from unknown causes. I thought the area where the brooder was placed was a bit cold at night. Although they are protected from the rain, the cold night is still causing respiratory problems. The next week I lost another 2 chicks from severe colds.

After 2 months, what’s left of the original 26 chicks was 13. I lost half and the sad thing is that I lost all the Orpingtons and Light Sussex.

This is when I decided to build a chicken house. Using the materials that I removed from my house during repairs, I built a 10 feet x 20 feet chicken house and divided it into 4 small rooms and a 1 big. I placed all 13 chicks inside that big room. I never lost a chick since then.

I was very interested in finding out where did I go wrong so I decided to buy 10 more chicks and a tray of fertilized eggs.

This time, I placed the 10 day-old-chicks inside my newly-built brooder made of glass and plywood. I placed the brooder inside the chicken house.

I then incubated the 30 eggs I purchased from another breeder and out of 30, I got 23 chicks. Not bad though. I am not new to incubating and hatching. The problem was, I hadn’t practiced what I know for a long time.

Before I forget, let me clear that I purchased the 10 day-old chicks a day before the hatch date of the 23 chicks so there is only a day difference.

I put all chicks inside the brooder and followed the guidelines outlined in here (I contributed to these guidelines)

Today, September 8, the chicks are now 4 weeks old and so far they are extremely healthy. I am planning to transfer them inside the chicken house outside the brooder after two more weeks.

By the way, the first batch of chicks that I bought last January are now laying eggs. There were only 6 remaining hens and 5 of them are laying eggs now.

If you are a beginner, I strongly suggest you to follow the guides below to avoid the same problem that I experienced early this year.

  1. How to raise baby chicks
  2. Complete feed guide
  3. Complete vaccination guide

After a disastrous first time experience, I am now confident to say that I can grow chickens from day-old chicks with the lowest mortality possible. And this is only possible because I personally deal with my birds and not delegate to someone else. Every day, I spend 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon just observing them, especially their health. This is very important if you want to ensure your flock is healthy.

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions and thanks for reading my story.

By Julius Magboo, San Pascual, Batangas

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