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.

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.

3/6/2019 9:17:34 AM

A couple of disagreements: you say "allow ample space" but you give no square foot per chick recommended. Don't you think someone new to raising chicks would be helped by that?? What about increasing space as chicks grow? Say, at 6 weeks, 10 or whatever. . . . And about heat: the chicks need enough space that they can get under the heat, but also space to get out from under the heat in case they get too warm, unless you have a way to keep the exact temperature. LazyGardener says 4-6 weeks for heat outside, but s/he doesn't say what "outside temperature" this recommendation fits. Where I live, in Gardening Zone 7a for example, even 6 weeks isn't adequate if I'm buying my chicks when they first appear at the local feed store, or Tractor Supply. You need to be aware of time of year, temperatures in your area, etc. One size does not fit all!! I continued to provide a heat source (brooder light) for 10 weeks (2-1/2 mo.), until outside temps warmed into the 60's, and it no longer froze at night. And "if you're raising them for eggs, breed doesn't matter." Pardon me, but B.S. If you're raising chicks for eggs you want to select a breed known for good egg production!! I'm surprised that M.E.N. would present your info as someone who knows about "raising baby chicks". Some of these basic items seem sorely lacking in knowledgeable recommendations! And what about chicks which are good foragers? Or chicks which are more friendly to kids? or which chicks are layers of white eggs? brown? 'easter eggers'? M.E.N. would do better to recommend some good books, some good web sites of Knowledgeable chick raisers, and some better thought out presentations. There are lots of other dual breed chicks than Cornish cross--if you're going to suggest any by name, include several choices. . .people new to chick raising aren't going to know much but you don't provide any alternatives. If you're going to recommend "silkies" you should also let beginners know there are standard size chickens, and Bantams--or "smaller" breeds. Would be helpful too, to let people know they should check local laws--in many places the number of hens is limited in city/town limits, and many restrict possession of roosters!! Be prepared!! People would get a lot more information by reading Backyard Chickens a great online source, or a book by Patricia Farmer on "City Chicks" for example. You can buy on Amazon, or read for free from public library--even if they don't have a specific book there is such a thing as inter-library loan. . . . LazyGardener suggests a heat pad arrangement. . .but you don't need something as expensive! Get a brooder lamp from Walmart, or Tractor Supply, or a feed store. Use a red (so it doesn't interfere with their sleep as they mature) incandescent bulb (for heat), and give the chicks enough space they can 'roam' under for warmth, or out from under to regulate the warmth they need. .

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