There’s little doubt that you will consider buying baby chicks, ducklings or bunnies once they begin to appear in the garden centers and feed stores across the country. The cute factor is almost too much to resist! Many will fall prey to the cute little chicks and ducklings and decide to give them as Easter or Spring gifts. How can you ensure that this will be a successful endeavor for you and your family? If you are either the recipient or the giver of live animals for Easter, read on for some helpful thoughts on making it a successful journey.
Caring for baby chicks, ducks, and rabbits requires thought about how the animals will fit into your life. Those cute little balls of fluff are a lifetime commitment, at least the expected lifetime of the animal. In our more agrarian past, many people had some sort of farming or homesteading going on in their backyard. Or, they had a close by relative that lived on the farm.
Today, this is not usually the case. Many live Easter basket gifts are turned out to fend for themselves, once they grow bigger and messier. They may be turned into the local animal shelter, which is probably not equipped to care for or place grown rabbits, chickens and ducks. Chickens and Ducks are considered livestock and there may be local zoning laws not prohibiting backyard chickens in residential yards. Rabbits might be considered pets but not everyone appreciates the behavior of a house rabbit.
What to Know When Buying Baby Chicks, Ducklings, and Bunnies
Before buying baby chicks, ducklings, or baby rabbits for Easter gifts, take a moment to consider the following points.
Did you plan on raising animals in your backyard? The nicely maintained patio with flower beds and lawn chairs will become a playground for your new flock once they are turned out to free range in the yard. If you don’t have a secure fence, your neighbors may receive the benefits of chickens in their backyard too. The neighbors might not enjoy free ranging chickens, so this is definitely a point to clear up before bringing home chicks.
Are your children responsible? Are they old enough to learn about caring for baby chicks? Parental supervision will still be required in most cases. Many children can master the tasks of feeding watering and cleaning up a small coop. It’s still a good practice to take a look and make sure that everything was taken care of, as children can be easily distracted.
Have you considered the entire life span of the chicken, duck or rabbit? Chickens can easily live 5 to 8 years. Your laying hen will provide fresh eggs for the first few years. Then the egg laying will taper off until it rarely happens. The older hens still need food and a safe place to shelter. Ducks are friendly, agreeable pets and they also have rather long lifespans. Ducks provide endless entertainment which can add to the enjoyment the family finds taking care of the animals. Rabbits are excellent pets and can provide additional income for families willing to breed or sell meat rabbits. A healthy breeding pair will require separate living quarters so you can control the breeding.
Where will the animal be housed? Is this realistic? You’ll need to research topics like “what does a chicken coop need“. Have you looked into housing requirements for chicks, ducklings and rabbits? Often, the least expensive coops and hutches are not predator resistant. The good news is that after buying baby chicks, the chicks will need to stay indoors until the weather warms up consistently. Keeping a brooder pen in your house or garage for the first few weeks will give you some time to obtain a sturdy, outdoor coop and run for the chickens. This will be needed once they grow feathers and can stay warm without heat lights.
Can you afford the food, and care the animals require? Do you have answers to common questions like: What do your feed baby ducks for proper growth?
Learning how to raise baby chicks is a rewarding project for families and individuals. It can bring much joy along with farm fresh eggs. Even keeping ducks in suburbia is possible and fun when some planning is used before bringing home ducklings. Make a list of what you will need for your own flock. When you visit the garden centers and farm stores this spring, you will be an informed shopper and bringing home the new fluffy family will be even more enjoyable. Are you planning on buying baby chicks this season?
Originally published in 2015 and regularly vetted for accuracy.