Updated: Mar 19, 2021
Part of the plan towards self reliance and making a living from the land we are on includes chickens. Laying chickens, for eggs. Not only have we never done this before, we haven't done most farm things before that we will need to do- and that includes building a coop. (Rowan is so gentle and loving with the chickens!)
On January 25, we picked up the first half of our chickens- 45 birds that were Silver Laced Wyandottes, Green Queens, Easter Eggers, and Welsummers. We did the trek to Meyer Hatchery (here in Ohio, because we wanted to pick up the babies, not have them shipped), where we also purchased pine shavings (for substrate), waterers (there is a sea to chicken feeding and watering woes to follow), and something obscenely named "poultry nipples" (Chickens are not mammals! What?!).
As reformed city slickers, we were surprised that 45 day old chicks could fit in a single, double sided box in the backseat of our Honda Civic (yep, we do not have a farming vehicle yet). I had obtained the plastic totes and brooder heat elements already, so we could set them up as soon as we arrived home. We went with Brinsea brooders, which are a heated plate that the chicks could nestle under (like a mama hen) that extend and grow taller as the birds do. They are not a fire hazard like heat lamps, either.
The little plastic waterers were a PITA. Chickens will dirty up these, even with marbles in them (so the little dears don't drown!) They kicked shavings into the drinking portion within minutes of my setting them down, ensuring dehydration! So we quickly made waterers with the nipples. These are great, as long as you remember not to completely seal them at the top (nothings more frustrating than a full bucket of water that the chickens cannot drink from because there is no displacement happening!
Now that the chickens are awkward teens always trying to roost high and flap all over the place, they land on the waterers and sometimes accidentally seal them. So when we check on and feed the chicks, we always check water levels and be sure to "burp them" on one side.