How To Raise Baby Chicks.
I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but around here it’s baby chick time. They have’em at Tractor Supply. They have’em at the feed mill. They have’em at the horse supply. They have’em at Rural King. Baby Chicks, baby ducks, baby guineas, baby poultry are everywhere.
Tis the Season for baby birds!
Raising baby chicks is easy. Raising baby chicks is inexpensive. As long as your HOA allows chickens – you can do this.
There are entire books written about raising chickens. Why? The entire process can pretty much be summed up in 3 steps – save your money; you don’t need the book.
You only need 3 Things:
- Food & Water
- Something for them to live in – this can be a bunny hutch, a little coop, a metal bin or a big plastic container
Number 1: Heat.
The most important thing is to keep them warm. Really warm. Most baby chicks don’t die from illness, lack of food, or dehydration. They are far more likely to die from being cold. Your 70 degree home is too cold for them. They need mama-hen temperature which is much warmer. Since you are not a mama-hen, you will need a heat lamp above them to keep them toasty.
If your chicks are all huddled together directly under the heat lamp – they’re too cold. Move the lamp closer to the ground.
If they are on the other side of the cage trying to get away from the heat lamp – they’re too hot. Raise the lamp up away from the ground.
If they are freely moving about the cage, coop, or plastic container – they are comfortable. You’ve got the heat lamp in the right spot.
As the chicks grow they won’t need as much heat. Keep an eye on them. Continue to adjust your heat lamp as the chicks grow and become less dependent on it for warmth.
NUMBER 2: Food. Easy – give them food. I like this little feeder. It uses a mason jar, which I have a thousand of. It has little holes for them to eat out of, which prevents them from standing in the middle of the feed bowl and pooping all over their food. To use this, fill the jar with baby chick starter, screw on the bottom & turn it upside down. The food will be gravity fed into the bottom as the chicks eat it.
I like this watering set-up. It also uses a mason jar (which I am long on) to dispense water.
If you haven’t heard, chickens are dumb. You’ll learn this soon enough once you get yours. You can provide 3 gallons of water in the cage with them, and they will still die from dehydration unless you show them where the water is. Even if it’s in the middle of their 3 foot X 3 foot cage and they have to trip over it, they still may not find it.
They could die if you do not show them where the water is. To ensure your chicks know where the wet stuff is, you have to dip their beaks in the water. At my house we refer to this lovingly as “chicken dunking.” Grab (gently) the tiny, yellow, fluffy babies and dip their beaks into the water.
Number 3: Housing
Our babies are currently living in an upstairs bathroom in this blue storage tub. We are having too much fun playing with our new babies & don’t want to banish them out to the barn just yet.
This weekend they’ll be moving to the hutch we have in our barn. There they’ll have a lot more room to grow into big chicks.
You can use a bunny hutch, a metal bin, a stock tank, or whatever else you can get your hands on. Make sure there is plenty of air circulation and they can’t fly out. It’s amazing how far these little guys can hop and fly at a week old!
We check on the babies at least twice a day. We give them food, water, fresh bedding, adjust the heat lamp or take care of anything else they need.
Once they get their wing feathers & the temperatures are warm enough, we’ll move them to our big coop with the rest of the flock. For more information on how we handle birds go to:
- Keeping Chickens the Redneck Way
- Keeping Chickens the Redneck Way Part 2
- Raising Baby Chicks
- Moving to the Big Coop
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