If you’re like most chicken fans, your heart probably melts a bit when you see chicks. Chicks require both a good deal of planning and a lot of work, so make sure you are prepared to take care of your infant flock with a few helpful tips.
1. Plan on Staying Home
Baby chicks will require constant attention and monitoring during their first four to six weeks of life. Chicks must be checked on at least five times per day during these weeks, so make sure that you will be home frequently enough during this time.
2. Create a Healthy Environment
To best control and protect their living environment, baby chicks should be kept indoors, in a garage, or basement. Make sure the space is draft-free and capable of keeping your chicks warm with the help of a brooder. They will scratch and kick dust far beyond the boundaries of their cage, so it’s a good idea to keep your chicks away from your kitchen, bedroom, or living area. Also note that they have a distinctive smell, and if you think you might be sensitive to it, keep your chicks in your basement or garage. Be careful of things like putting your chicks near a gas fire or with cedar shavings etc. which may give off fumes.
When you set up your chicks house or brooder, allow at least 0.5 square feet of space per chick for the first two weeks. They will be growing quickly and for weeks 2-4 will probably need more like 1 square feet each (and it continues to increase from there). The brooder should be at least one foot tall and should allow adequate ventilation. Also make sure that the brooder has a ceiling or lid, as baby chicks will take flight and escape. A cardboard box or plastic storage bin with holes cut out for ventilation makes a great brooder.
You may also try keeping your chicks in a kiddy pool with wire mesh on top and I have heard of some chicks taking over the bathroom (rather you than me).
How to Raise Chicks (Video)
One of the most important things chicks need in their first weeks is heat. Most commonly a heating lamp is used to keep your chicks warm together with a thermostat in their brooder. The lamp should be securely attached and in many setups is placed over the center of the brooder so that there is plenty of space for them to be away from the heat if they want to in the parts of the brooder that the lamp can’t reach.
In their first week, the brooder heat should be kept at 95 degrees. Each week, lower the temperature by five degrees.
4. Food and water
Your chicks are growing quickly, so they need a constant supply of food and fresh, clean water. Although some chicken keepers use a bowl or rabbit feeder, baby chicks are very active and inquisitive and can drown in a bowl of water or get trapped under a pile of tipped-over food. The best way to feed and water your chicks is to use a special chick feeder and waterer. Baby chicks will also need grit, such as sand or small gravel to help them digest their food. Grit will already be in their commercial chick feed but if they have any treats or peck about outside they will need some grit available to help them process the food that isn’t their normal chick feed.
Baby chicks will need absorbent bedding, such as pine shavings which will need to be changed very regularly so it does not get too damp or dirty.
Overall, remember that your chicks need constant supervision and care. Providing heat, food, water, bedding, and a proper brooder will put you on the right track to raising your chicks successfully. Don’t forget to be prepared for some mischievous surprises from your adorable baby birds!
Here are some photos of our new baby chickens with their mom.
Another photo of our lovely new chicks.
And another lovely photo of our brand new chicks – only a few days old…