Have you been lulled by the chirping at your local TSC or feed store? Baby chicks are everywhere right now!! They sure are cute. Maybe, you’ve always wanted some, but never took the plunge? Well, here’s the good part. Baby chicks are easy to raise and keep! And the best part? All those delicious eggs you’ll get when they grow up!
(If you can’t find chicks locally, you can always order from hatcheries. I’ll list some below.
Ok, first things first your gonna need someplace to keep them right? If your in a pinch, baby chicks can be kept in a simple plastic tote with a heat lamp. Or a chicken brooder with a heat lamp. Be sure where ever you set your chicks up, they are safely away from predators if indoors. Or in a sturdy cage/pen/brooder that can keep them safe. Check your local market place or craigslist to find pens/ brooders for sale for cheaper.
I always suggest a red heat lamp bulb because it discourages the chicks from pecking at each other.
Temperature is very important for baby chicks, they can die if they get too cold or too hot. Whatever you choose to keep your chicks in, be sure they have plenty of room to be by the light and warm. Also, enough room to get away from it when they need to cool down. The ideal temperature for baby chicks, a week old or younger, is 95 degrees F. Week two is 90, week three is 85. Each week decreases by five degrees until chicks are ready to live outside. Most information suggests to keep the heat lamp on the chicks for 8 weeks, just to be safe. But most chicks are fully feathered by 6 weeks.
Ok now, that living arrangements are in place. What supplies will you need? Let’s make a list!
Bit of advice! Chicks love to clog the water jugs with their bedding. I find sitting the water jug on a small block of wood, where it’s off the bottom floor of the brooder helps. But check it often to make sure chicks have access to fresh water.
Bitty starter can be found at your local Tractor supply, feed store, or online.
Bitty starter/mash should be fed to baby chicks from hatching up until 6-8 weeks. At this time you can switch to grower feed/crumbles. Feed crumbles up to around 18 weeks. When chickens reach 18 weeks old or when they lay their first egg, you can gradually begin to switch your laying hens to a layer feed. Gradually switch the feed, to avoid upsetting their digestive systems.
Bedding can easily be found at Tractor Supply, Walmart, feed stores, pet stores, or online.
I strongly suggest that you use pine wood shavings and not cedar! Cedar oils & scents are toxic to chickens!
Change bedding more often, if keeping your chicks indoors to avoid a smelly house. If outside, once to twice a week should suffice, depending on number of chicks.
**Watch out for pasty butt/sticky bottom in baby chicks. Basically, this is when baby chicks get poop caked on their butts. It can seal their vent closed and they won’t be able to go to the bathroom. It can cause death. I’ve never really had trouble with this. But wanted to cover it, because some people have. Sit the baby chicks bottom in warm water and use a wash cloth to wipe the chick clean. Allow chick to dry before adding him back in with the others.
I will close with this, baby chicks are really simple to take care of. Don’t overthink it. They basically eat, sleep and poop. Here’s a harsh reality, some chicks will die. No matter what you do. It’s a part of life/farming/ homesteading. It’s sad when those things happen but don’t let it discourage you or scare you. Chickens are really fun and worth everything you will put into them. Often, you can find my family outside, sitting, just watching our chickens. 😂😂😂 I hope, I’ve shed some light and some information. Encouraged you to take the plunge! Until next time, happy homesteading 😁❤😁