1. Always have at least one extra clamp lamp and a box of extra light bulbs on hand. Neither item lasts as long as you would expect. I’ve gone through one lamp and five light bulbs already.
2. Never put more than two days worth of food (about two cups) into the feeder. This minimizes the volume of food that gets spoiled when the chicks knock over the feeder and take dust baths in the grain. Which they will.
3. At about the tenth day, the chicks will suddenly start making eye contact when you peer over the edge of their box. This will be both unnerving and adorable.
4. When it comes to temperature, chicks haven’t necessarily read the same books that you have. Mine have consistently preferred temperatures five degrees cooler than what the books all specify.
5. If your home has an open-room architecture like mine, you may think you are prepared to sleep through the chicken noise. But are you prepared to sleep through the light from the 100 watt bulb burning all night?
6. Chickens as a rule are not fond of novelty. I started doing something to their box every day – adding a new stick, moving the feeder, etc. I’ve noticed they have grown more used to these changes being made. I think it’s good for them.
7. Chicks also haven’t read the books that say “chicks start roosting at about four weeks.” Even at only a few days old, they liked to perch on sticks (about thumb diameter).
8. For the first two weeks, chicks go through about 3/4ths a pound of feed per chick per week. Buy lots.
10. You may think of your chickens as pets, but you’re pretty much the only one. When reading books on chicken care, be prepared to encounter the term “culling.” A lot.