Taking Care of Your Baby Chicks!
Taking care of baby chicks looks simple right? Today I will be explaining how to take care of your new baby chicks.
Once you've decided to raise chickens you need to ask yourself several questions. What kind (breed) of chickens do I want? When do I want them to arrive? And What hatchery will I use? Once those questions have been answered and your chickens ordered, it's time to get busy!
Before the chicks arrive you need to prepare the brooder. A brooder is a chicken nursery basically. It will be the chickens' home for the first 6 weeks or so of life, so make sure it's roomy and comfy for them! I have recommendations for you based on the number of chickens you will be raising. If you are raising less than 6 chickens a small rubbermaid tote would work. If you are raising 6-12 chickens I recommend a kiddie pool. For 12-25 chickens I recommend a metal washtub and more than 25 chickens you'll need a designated brooder. We converted an old chicken tractor for our initial brooder but have since converted a shipping container into a permanent brooder space.
Here's a picture of me in my brooder:
Now to set up your brooder! Place bedding down, whether that be sawdust, hay or wood shavings. Next you'll need a heat source. Heat lamps work well in a brooder. Get as many as needed to adequately heat your space. Now check to see if the heat lamps are working correctly. Once you have the bedding and heat in place, make sure you have clean food and water containers to put food and water in for the chickens. Before the chicks are ready to pick up you will need to heat some sugar water for them (Sugar water is just equal parts water and sugar, heated on the stove until the sugar melts) and have chick starter already at your house.
Here is an image of a recommended heat lamp, waterer and feeder options:
When your chicks arrive the post office will alert you. You'll need pick up your chicks as soon as possible and bring them home. Now that you have gone and picked up the chicks and you have put all the water and all the food containers on top of the bedding and gotten all the heat lamps in place its time to get the chicks in there! To get them started off what you need to do is dunk their beaks in the water so they know where the water is and how to drink it; do this as you unpack every chicken from their crate so they don't die. As for the heat lamps set them to 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week and every week take it down 5 degrees until its room temperature.
This is very important; Do not play with the chicks for the first 24 hours of their stay, they are very stressed and don't need any more stress. For the following days you should check for "Pasty butt", a condition where poop gets caught on their fluffiness, to fix this just take a warm and soapy washcloth and get it off while also drying them after. But otherwise just check them regularly and make sure they have essentials.
Hey! You made it to week two, Congrats! From here on out until you move them out onto pasture you will just need to check them every 12 hours for food and water and make sure their not burning or freezing or dying in any way (Thats a bad thing). When they get fully covered in feathers after about 6 weeks it's time to move them to pasture!
Congratulations! You're a great chicken parent!