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Bringing home a batch of baby chicks is always fun. Even the most experienced backyard chicken owners can’t help grinning from ear to ear when picking up those little peeping balls of fluff. This article will cover how to care for baby chicks so they live long, happy, and productive lives.
Home Sweet Home
Your chicks will call their brooder “home” until they’ve lost their baby down and are fully feathered. Brooders can be anything form a cardboard box, a pet carrier, or even a livestock water tank. Anything that keeps your chicks in a safe, controlled environment will do just fine.
Chicks grow fast! The brooder should be about 1.5 sq. ft. per chick so they don’t outgrow it before moving outside around the 6-8 week mark. Cover the floor with pine shavings or Koop Clean and change it regularly. That’s the #1 way to keep your chicks safe from any nasty illnesses.
Chicks Like it Warm
Baby chicks need heat to thrive. The temperature should be around 90-95 degrees the first week your chicks are home, reduced about 5 degrees every week until they’re feathered. An easy way to do this is to hang a heat lamp over the brooder and raise it a few inches each week. Their behavior will tell you how they feel. Cold chicks will huddle together under the lamp, while hot chicks will spread out far away from the lamp. Chicks that are just right will move around happily.
Always have clean water for your chicks. You can use a shallow bowl, or a small bowl with marbles added to the bottom. You don’t want your chicks to fall in and drown! Plastic watering bowls are great too because you can just pop them in the dishwasher if they get gross.
The Need for Feed
Boy, can chicks eat! Give them a quality mash like Ace Hi or Kelley’s Chick Starter and they’ll gobble it right up. Chicks start scratching for food pretty early in life, so it’s good to raise their food dish off the floor so they don’t fling food everywhere!
That’s pretty much it. Raising chicks is easy, they just fall into a routine of eat, play, sleep, repeat! Doesn’t that sound nice?