8 Easter Egger chicks heading to their new home. Photo By Ashley Sinkula
You Brought Home Baby Chicks, Now what?
Congrats, you are one of the many people that get sucked into the cuteness of baby chicks. I know this “oh so familiar” feeling as you enter the feed store and you start speed walking to the center of the store that has the metal water troughs filled with cute little fuzzy chicks. You decide to take the lunge, as many do, and purchase a few of these cute little spring time babies.
You Have Your chicks, What Else Do You Need?
Raising chickens is so rewarding and can fit just about anyone’s life style, knowing what basic necessities are needed for raising these sweet little farm animals will help you along the way.
When we buy or hatch our own chicks (yes, you can hatch your own chicks at home) I always make sure I have a few things on hand. Although there are a lot of ways to raise chickens, this is what has worked for us here at ABCDfarmhouse for years.
Chick Home: you need a spot for your little chicks, something that can accommodate them growing in size. Find something that is bigger than what you need right away. There are a variety of things you can use. Galvanized water troughs, dog crates, kiddie pools etc. Whatever you choose, just make sure they can’t fly up and out as they get bigger. It’s also nice to find something that contains your bedding choice because chickens can be messy.
Heat: this is a very important part of raising chicks and a necessity. Whether you use a heat lamp or a Brinsea Eco glow style chick heater it’s important to monitor the heat your chicks are receiving with a temperature gage. Chicks require a range of heat that changes as they get older. Also, allowing your chicks to have the choice to be under the heat source and also away from it is important, this allows them to heat up or cool off when needed.
Bedding: more of a preference and also a variety to choose from. We start all our day-old chicks out on plain old paper towels. The reason for this is that new born chicks aren’t very coordinated and also do a lot of sleeping for the first few days, we find it easier for them to do so on a flat surface. Once they are a couple of days old, we switch over to pine shavings. Pine shavings are readily available at most farm and feed stores and a big compressed bag seems to go a long way.
Feed: sometimes feed choices can make your head spin because there are a lot out there. Most feed options you can’t really go wrong with. It is important to choose a chicken feed that is specifically formulated for baby chicks and not adult birds. Feed that is for baby chicks will be smaller in size and also have different nutritional values for your growing birds. You’ll also have some additional choices like whether to choose organic or non-organic, medicated or non-medicated. These are all decisions you can make according to the way you and your family would like to raise your chickens.
Feeders & Waterers: a lot of feed stores typically have one or two styles of feeders and waterers for baby chicks. We usually choose the style that is a dish on the bottom and a screw top container on the top. I find these easy and convenient to fill and also clean. Baby chicks are messy and you may find yourself cleaning and refilling your feeders and waterers multiple times a day, so picking a style that you find easy to maintain is best.
Additional items: we always like to give our chicks the best start to what will hopefully be a long happy life. We almost always start out by providing probiotics and electrolytes in our growing chicks water, this isn’t necessary but we find that it helps them especially after traveling with you to their new home to stay happy and recover from their potentially stressful journey.
Education/Information: It’s always so helpful to have a resource to turn to when you have chicken keeping questions. This could be a seasoned chicken keeper, books, online sources etc. When we first started our chicken keeping journey we knew that we wanted to lean more towards the natural side of chicken keeping so I picked up Lisa Steele’s book Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens...Naturally and I would refer to this book when I had questions or concerns. We also joined a few online chicken keeping groups to be apart of a community that understood our growing chicken addiction.
Although these items may not be everything you need for raising chicks, these things will definitely get you on the right path to happy and healthy birds. We have been raising chickens for 6 years and have grown to love this rewarding farm animal. We now raise our own birds for fun and enjoy watching them hatch from eggs. Our kids get joy from running outside with their basket to collect eggs each morning and also feeding their happy chickens fun treats. These are just a few of the many reasons why after walking out of our local feed store with those cute little fuzzy chicks that day I knew I made a leap that would forever be rewarding to my family and farm!
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