How to Raise and Take Care of Baby Chicks
Whether you pick them up from a hatchery, farm supply, small farm or by hatching them from your own chickens, baby chicks are relatively easy to get. These days, you can even purchase them online and have them shipped directly to your door. Raising them into healthy, happy chickens, however, requires a little work.
Preparing to Raise Baby Chicks
Before you get your baby chickens, you need to have the right conditions for your flock. You will need:
- Chick starter feed and clean water: Look for a nutritious formula, like Nature’s Best Organic Chick Starter/Grower Crumbles, which is specially formulated for baby chicks.
- A place to live: A draft-free brooder pen is ideal for baby chicks. It doesn’t need to be fancy as long as it stays warm and gives the chicks plenty of room. Overcrowding can lead to pecking, so remember that extra space means a happier, healthier coop. You can buy a ready-made coop or pen or build your own. Either way, look for a rounded pen or use cardboard to soften corners and prevent crowding.
- Heat: The brooder pen should have a red brooder lamp that stays on and keeps the temperature two inches above the floor at 92°F (33°C) until the chicks start growing feathers. The lamp needs to be red to camouflage any flecks of red on the chicks, as young chickens will peck at these and injure each other if they are visible.
How Do You Take Care of Baby Chicks at Home?
Raising baby chickens is not very complicated. You will need to:
- Adjust the heat: Once your chicks have feathers, start reducing the heat by 5°F every seven days until the chickens are 6 weeks old.
- Provide a good surface: Line the living area with newspaper and up to 3 inches of cut straw, pine shavings or coarse ground cob to absorb droppings and to provide traction. Clean this surface often to keep it dry.
- Offer plenty of feed and water: Ensure both stay free of droppings and debris. A chick fountain is a good investment since it can prevent spills and excessive moisture in the chick’s living area.
Raising Baby Chickens Into Healthy Adult Birds
Part of knowing how to raise baby chicks is understanding chicken behavior. If the chicks are flocking to the very edges of their brooding pen, the lamp may be too hot. If chicks are pecking at each other, they may have too little room. You may also notice some not drinking, in which case you can gently dip their beaks into the water to help them get used to the fountain.
Chickens love to roost, so make sure there are perches in the coop, such as stacks of bricks or poles, to ensure your chicks don’t roost in the water or food. As their feathers grow in, you can place them in a wire cage outside for short periods. Offer a sandy area in the cage for cleaning, and ensure it’s in a warm, draft-free spot.
If you’re ready to raise baby chicks, get them started with a nutritious feed designed specifically for their unique needs. Nature’s Best Organic Chick Starter/Grower Crumbles are non-medicated and Non-GMO Project-Verified. Find the closest store offering this formula or contact us to find out more about how Nature’s Best Organic Feeds can help you raise healthy chickens.