As raising backyard chickens becomes more popular, Sweet Woodland Farm in Hampton Bays has decided to add chicks to its array of items for sale, including fresh eggs, heirloom vegetable plants and handmade wood items.
For the organic farm's owners, the Stephens Family, selling chicks is a natural progression for the farm, which opened over the summer.
The Stephens family is a huge proponent of eating healthy and toward that end, the family purchased their first chicks five years ago and now have a flock of 12, which are housed on the two-acre farm at 45 Old Squires Rd, Hampton Bays.
Rachel Stephens, a stay-at-home mom who homeschools her two children, said raising backyard chickens was one of the best decisions she has ever made.
"Chickens are one of the few pets that can actually give back to their owners," said Rachel. "We eat their eggs, we use their manure as fertilizer in the garden, and they even eat ticks."
Now, she said she'd like to help other families reap the same benefits.
Last week she started taking orders for chicks, which will be available March 18.
Rachel says she is selling Cuckoo Marans, a breed that lays chocolate-brown colored eggs, and Light Brahmas, a large white, feather-footed breed that lays jumbo sized brown eggs.
Chicks are available sexed — pullets (girls), cockerels (boys) or straight run (a mix of both).
Prices, she said a range from $6 to $10 for each day-old chick and customers must order the minimum required by New York State law which is 6.
Before ordering, Rachel recommends that anyone interested in buying chicks, makes sure they are legally permitted to have chickens in the town they live in before ordering.
She also suggests that customers educate themselves on chicken care and have a brooder, which can be constructed using a rubber tote, cardboard box, or fish tank to keep the chicks in.
The chicks, she said will need a waterer, a feeder filled with chick starter that is available in organic or conventional feed, a heat lamp, preferably with a red heat lamp, and pine shavings for bedding.
"It's best to have the brooder set up before picking up the chicks as warmth is extremely important for their health," she said.
Once the chicks are old enough, Rachel said they will be able to be moved to an outdoor coop that can be purchased starting at $200. She also suggests checking on Craigslist for used coops.
Chicken owners can also convert a shed or a large doghouse into a chicken coop or use pallets and plywood to build a coop.
For those looking for more information on raising backyard chickens, Rachel will be offering a i nformational class on raising backyard chickens on March 8 at the farm. The cost is a $10 donation.
To register for the class or purchase chicks, call (631)594-1789 or visit the farm online here.