Caring for Baby Chicks
Baby chicks are usually sent home in a small box. Our local farm supply stores have a minimum of 6 chicks per order. The baby chicks will keep each other warm with body heat during the trip home.
Once they get to their new home they will need some special care.
The easiest way to care for baby chicks is to let the hen do it for you. The hen keeps the baby chicks warm. She teaches them how to drink. She even teaches them how to scratch and peck for food.
If you don’t have a broody hen to take care of the baby chicks you will need to do these things for them.
You’ll need one of these. This is a brooder. A brooder is a heated house for chickens.
We use a rabbit hutch. There has never been a rabbit in this cage. Lots of chickens have loved it. We put a heat lamp, drinker, feeder & hay in it.
Watch the chicks after you install the heat lamp. If they are all running from it, they are too hot (the lamp is too close to them). If they are all huddled together under the heat lamp, they are too cold (it is too far away). To adjust the temperature, move the heat lamp closer or farther away from the floor.
As your chicks grow you may need to move the heat lamp higher in the brooder (farther away from the chicks). Their need for an external heat source will slowly diminish as they get their real feathers.
When the chicks are happily moving about, or taking a nap it means the lamp is in the perfect spot.
The floor of this rabbit hutch is made of a small wire. The chicks feet are so tiny that they easily fall through the holes. To prevent this from happening we put down a layer of newspaper and spread some hay on top of that.
The hay adds warmth for the chicks. The newspaper keeps the chicks feet from falling through the bottom of the cage.
This flooring is also easy to clean up. Just relocate your chicks while you roll up the old newspaper. When you roll up the paper, the hay and chicken poop will go with it. Then put in a fresh layer of newspaper & hay. Return the chicks to the brooder. All clean!
Caring for chicks in a brooder is easy. They must have food, water and warmth. That’s about it. They will only need to be in the brooder for a few weeks.
After placing the chicken drinker into your brooder pick up each little chick and dip their beaks in the water source. This teaches them where to get a drink.
When the feeder is placed into the brooder filled with the chick-starter feed, the chicks easily figure out what to do with it.
Check on the chicks every day to be sure they are getting along well. We check the food, water & heat situation in the brooder first thing in the morning and during evening chores. Of course, no one is neglected on our little homestead.
At our farm, new-comers can count on visitors throughout the day, especially if you are cute, yellow and fuzzy.
The chicks lived in the brooder until they get their real feathers.
These chickens have their feathers. They are about 6 weeks old. We can now safely move them to the coop. If it is extraordinarily cold when your chicks reach this stage, they can stay in the brooder a little longer. Better to be safe than sorry.
For more on Raising Baby Chicks go here.
To learn how to coop-train the new chicks go here.