Here a chick, there a chick: Spring brings cute additions to Tractor Supply

Published 8:01 am Sunday, March 31, 2024

As Vicksburg’s Tractor Supply Co. patrons make their way to the back of the retail store, they will be in for a sweet surprise. Just inside a wire fence are irresistible little puffs of softness — baby chicks. These little hatchlings are so cute, it’s nearly impossible not to take a pause from shopping and watch as they run around and make their little peeping noise.

Alex Parker Beers, who is the receiver/manager of the local Tractor Supply, said baby chicks and ducklings typically come in
around February and they will sell them until April. Beers could not give an exact number of chicks the store gets, but estimated it to be around 1,600.

For most chicks, Beers said, it takes six months before they become fully grown — and until they do, the little peeps will need
tender loving care.

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“Chicks will need to be in a confined space (or in a brooder) and a brooder lamp will be needed to keep them warm,” he said.

When temperatures begin to average around 80 to 90 degrees, Beers said, it will become safe for them to survive without an
external heat source.

In addition to a brooder and brooder lamp, chicks require a waterer for fresh water, a feeder for food, and bedding or litter to soak up manure and to give the chicks a comfortable place to cuddle.

There are a variety of chicks sold at Tractor Supply, Beers said, including Golden Comets; Rhode Island Reds; Smokey Pearls; Rustic Rocks; Pullets; California Tans and Amberlinks.

They have also sold Easter Eggers, he said, which will produce “all kinds of colorful eggs.”

A chicken does not begin laying eggs, Beers said, until they become fully mature, which for most chicks is six months.

Raising backyard chickens has become increasingly popular among homeowners. There are no official statistics as to the number, but a study done by the USDA in 2013 predicted 13 million people, or 5 percent of Americans, would be rearing chickens in the backyard by 2019.

James Thornton, a Vicksburg local, is one of the millions who raise chickens. Living in the country, he said, is conducive to them being free range — or allowed to roam freely without being confined in an enclosure.

When Thornton first started out, he said had 50 chickens, but has unfortunately lost many to predators.

Beers said a couple of the worst predators for chickens, even when confined, are foxes and raccoons.

“Foxes and raccoons have small hands, and they can dig under the coop,” he said.

Therefore, to keep them protected from the four-legged varmints, Beers suggested placing chicken wire about six inches around the coop. This, he said, will keep their greedy little paws from being able to dig in and grab a chick.

As Thornton eyed the baby chicks at Tractor Supply Thurs- day, he said he was interested in adding to his depleted flock.

“I’m trying to get a big enough flock so that I’ll have hens that go brooding,” he said.

Thornton said brooding hens will sit on their eggs, which will then allow them to hatch chicks.

As of now, Thornton’s chickens are just laying eggs, which he said is appreciated by family and friends who are the recipients of
fresh eggs.

While having fresh eggs at his disposal is a perk, Thornton said it is not the main reason he decided to raise chickens.

“Living in the country, I was just interested in having some yard birds and fell in love with raising chickens,” he said. “Watching them walk through the yard just brings me a lot of joy.”



About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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