Your Basic Guide to Caring for Chicks

 

New to raising chickens? We’re here to help! Here’s a list of the things you’ll need, and some helpful tips to get started.

Chick Checklist:Chicks

 

Set up your Brooder

You’ll need a brooder box. You can buy a chick starter home or create one out of a storage bin. Be sure to keep your brooder out of reach of children and pets.

Line your brooder with newspaper, and a layer of pine shavings (not cedar). Never use newspaper alone, as it becomes too slippery for chicks.

Securely fasten a heat lamp above your brooder. A red light will prevent the chicks from picking at each other and is less stressful to chicks. The temperature in your brooder should be 95 degrees the first week, then reduced by 5 degrees per week. Keep a thermometer in your brooder so you can easily monitor the temperature. If your chicks are too cold, they will be huddled under the heat lamp. If they are too hot, they will be as far from the heat lamp as possible. If your chicks are scattered throughout your brooder and seem content, then your heat is just right. Always keep a spare heat bulb on hand in case your bulb burns out.

As your chicks get older, consider adding a bar for roosting, and a dish for dust bathing to your brooder as well.

 Chicks in brooder

Feeding and Watering

Chicks need constant access to fresh water, so check the waterer often and refresh as needed. This small waterer is the perfect size for baby chicks. We recommend adding some Chick Boost to their water to give them a much-needed dose of electrolytes. As you place each chick in your brooder, tip their beak in the water so they get their first drink.

You should provide your chicks with chick starter. We offer starter in medicated or non-medicated options. Chicks also like treats such as grass, clover or chickweed. If you feed your chicks anything other than chick starter, you’ll also need to provide chick grit to help them with digestion.

 Chicks at waterer

Transitioning to the Coop

As the weeks go by, your chicks may begin to outgrow their starter home. A larger brooder cage will be necessary. Temporary dog pens work well, or you could build your own! Your chicks will still require a heat lamp, food and water, just as they did in the starter brooder. Your birds can be moved to the coop between 6 and 8 weeks of age, depending on the outside temperatures. At 6 weeks old, they still need temperatures to be around 70 degrees. Continue to feed your chickens a starter/grower feed until they are about 18 weeks old, then switch them to a layer feed.

Large Brooder

Large Brooder with Chicks

This is a basic guide to raising chickens. We recommend you do your research on chicken breeds, coop setup and poultry health before jumping in and buying chicks. Check our blog for more helpful tips, and have fun with your backyard flock!