GRIT Magazine’s Editor in Chief, Hank Will, discusses how to successfully raise happy and healthy chickens with Purina Mills' nutritionist Mikelle Roeder.
The main things newborn chicks need are warmth, water and feed. Most people use a heat lamp to keep their brooder warm, hoisting it approximately 12 inches above the brooder. One way to make sure the heat lamp you chose is successfully warming the brooder is to observe the chicks’ relative position inside of the brooder — if the chicks are gathered towards the center of the brooder, they are too cold, and if they are spread out towards the edges of the brooder, they are too warm. Adjust your brooder’s temperature as necessary.
Small feeders and waterers are designed to keep them from scratching or standing in their food or water. Without a mother hen to watch over them, it may be appropriate to show your new-born chicks how to drink by gently lifting them up and tilting their beaks into the water. When it comes time to feed, most chicks should be able to figure that out on their own.
In general, each chick should have 1-2 square feet per bird for the first six weeks of age, and then 5-10 square feet for the remainder of the time until they have grown full-size.