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Tips for Raising Baby Chicks

| 2/19/2019 12:00:00 AM


Raising baby chicks is a fun process.  If you've ever held a baby chick, you know they're super soft and super cute.  In order to raise them to be happy healthy chickens, you need to be prepared.

Supplies Needed

One of the most important things that you'll need is a brooder.  A brooder is simply a box of some sort that holds bedding, food, water and heat for the baby chicks.  Brooders also prevent the chicks from being exposed to drafts or predators, both which can be deadly to chicks.  You can create a homemade brooder from boxes, old livestock water troughs or large plastic totes. 

The sides of the brooder should be tall enough to prevent drafts.  They should also be tall enough that your chicks cannot easily jump out.  The brooder floor should allow the chicks ample space to move around.  You don't want them to be crowded around their food, water or heat.  If chicks are overcrowded, they will trample one another.

You'll need a chick feeder with multiple holes.  When starting young chicks, I prefer the long feeders.  These long feeders have more holes for the chicks to access feed than the upright feeders.  The chicks lower on the pecking order don't have to wait as long to eat from the long feeder.  You'll also need a waterer.  Elevate the food and water for the chicks if you can.  If you can keep the food and water off of the bedding then they will stay clean longer.

Young chicks need ample heat.  Day old chicks require their brooder to be around 90 degrees.  A heat lamp or brooder heater can be used to keep the chicks warm.  I recommend a heat lamp. They are cheaper, found easily in stores and they can be moved slowly out of the brooder to reduce the amount of heat.

4/11/2019 6:42:41 PM

Further clarification of my previous post: My chicks, if not brooded by a hen are brooded outdoors, in a predator proof coop, using what is called a Mother Heating Pad brooder system. The heating pad, fixed over a metal frame is set to a "constant on" setting and should be adjusted so the chicks can contact the heating pad when they go under it. The pad is designed to heat the chicks through direct contact, not heat the air! My chicks are typically brooded in April, here in zone 4. When they go into the coop 2 - 4 days after hatching (I incubate my own eggs) the night time temps are often down to low 20's. By the time the chicks are 3 weeks old, they are spending most of their day in the lower level of the coop, foraging through the deep litter. By the time the chicks are 4 - 6 weeks old, they wean themselves completely off heat. When they are no longer using MHP, I turn it off for a few days, then remove it completely. When they wean from the heat, night time temps are still often below freezing. The notion that chicks need a heat lamp for 6 - 10 weeks is IMO unfounded. Further details about the MHP system can be found on the Back Yard Chicken forum. Enter "Mother Heating Pad" into a search bar, and look for article and thread started by Blooie.

3/10/2019 8:09:55 PM

I agree with eaglegreen and Lazy Gardener! I raise my meat chickens and layers in a homemade coop. It is in two 4' x 8' sections atop fenceposts 2 ft above ground, and covered with an adjustable plastic tarp which protects from wind, rain, and heat by raising or lowering the sides. I use one heat lamp in each section (heat lamp at first, then low wattage LED as weather warms and they feather). I plan to try the suspended heating pad idea with LED lighting so they can feed 24 hrs a day. This would save tremendously on electrical costs! As eaglegreen pointed out, they must have room to run out from under any heat source when they get hot. As far as space goes, I usually raise 24 small red star pullets in my 4 x 8 coop for about 6 weeks, then transfer them to the chicken house which is about 8 x12. i raise 18-20 Cornish X-Rock meat chickens in the 4 x 8 coop until harvest at 6 or 7 weeks. I harvest the larger ones first, let the smaller ones grow a few more days.

3/7/2019 7:01:36 AM

I enjoyed your commentary. Thank you for your contribution.

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