Baby chicks seem like they should be easy to raise. And they are once you have figured out what you are doing. But if you don’t, baby chicks can go down fast. There are a few problems you can run into raising
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Not sure this post is for you? Here is what will be covered.
- What You Need For Your Baby Chicks
- Best Temperature For Baby Chicks Week By Week
- Your First Day With Baby Chicks
- Feeding Your Baby Chicks
- Should You Keep Your Baby Chicks Separate Or Keep Together
- Adding The New Chickens To Your Existing Flock
Whether you have a small coop to fill, or you just love the fun of having those cute little balls of fuzz every spring. Baby chicks are some of the most fun you will have raising small farm animals.
No urban farm or homestead is complete without baby chicks, even if they soon turn into full grown chickens. They are one of the least expensive animals to buy, and easy to take care of especially when they are full grown.
If you have large enough feeders you could even get away with a short weekend vacation if you wanted to.
One of my favorite sayings from a lady I have the pleasure of knowing through the online business world is this.
” You can’t find the answers if you don’t know the questions.”
That is such a true statement. Whether you are building a business, side hustle or sustainable urban farm.
My hope is that this post will give you the answers to the questions you did not know where there. You can find all of the basic care all over the web but these tips will help you in the long hull.
What You Need For Your Baby Chicks
There are two different sizes of flakes and different brands call them different names. You want the shavings that are really small. Almost as thin as a strand of cooked spaghetti. especially if you have bantam chicks, make sure to get the smallest shavings possible.
The shavings I fill my coop with are more like flakes almost an inch square for some of them. Small chicks have a hard time walking in those. It seems like I might be exaggerating but when the flake is half there size and they have a hard time getting over or around them.
This is always a higher protein feed that is between 18-21%. Always get a crumble because the baby chicks cannot swallow the pellets. But I do recommend going to the pellets when the chicks are bigger just because there is much less waste and the birds will find the pellets and eat them off the ground. But crumbles get smashed in and waisted.
I like the ones you can screw a mason jar in and flip (quickly) them over. It keeps the birds out of the container because there is not much room in them.
Just raise the waterier up even an inch or two off the grown to keep shavings and poo out of it. I like to sit small squares of wood under it.
Very similar to the waterer. These are better with smaller birds because they don’t get stuck in them like they sometimes can in the trough style feeder.
Thermometer – I like this one because of the suction cup you can place it closer to the same level as the chicks to ensure accurate temperature reading.
Heat lamp and bulb
You must have a 250-watt bulb unless you are in a warmer climate (like 75 degrees or more) the 175-watt bulb will not warm the area up enough.
Heat, Heat, Heat!!!
That is the number one factor that will leave you successful or not so successful in your journey with baby chicks. It is helpful if you know how to read the chicks (yes I mean chick body language) to see if they are too cold or too hot.
If they are huddled under the lamp then it’s not warm enough. So bring the lamp closer to the chicks. Stay close for the next 10-15 minutes to watch them and make sure the light is not too close. It will heat up fast and you don’t want to cook them on accident.
Once they start moving around the brooder and are more spread out you know you have it right.
But if they are hiding behind the feeder and pushing as far away from the heat source as possible then it is to close and you need to back it up a bit. Even if they are not trying to get away from the heat lamp but they are panting then it is still a bit to close.
Best Temperature For Baby Chicks
Try the best you can to keep the temperatures as steady as possible. Fluctuation can also cause health issues in baby chickens.
Week 1: 85 to 90 degrees
Week 2: 80 to 85 degrees
Week 3: 75 to 80 degrees
Week 4: 70 to 75 degrees
By this time the chicks should be fully feathered they should able to be outside during the summer months if they are in the 80-90 degree range.
Just be careful not to leave the baby chicks outside simply because of all the potential predators out there. So much can happen to them if they are not protected.
They are also easily damaged so if they get scared and run into something they can hurt themselves. I had a baby duck run into our house foundation and break its neck
Your First Day With Baby Chicks
On the day of arrival (if you order from a hatchery) you should add electrolytes to the water which are not very expensive. If you don’t have electrolytes on hand a few teaspoons of sugar added to slightly warm water will do just as well.
They have been through a lot and giving them that extra boost will help increase the survival rate by quite a bit.
No matter how good you get, you will lose at least one or two birds if ordered from a hatchery.
When chicks are hatched they have ingested enough of the yoke to be fine for the first 24 – 48hrs. But being shipped in the mail for the first 48 hours of your life would be hard on you too…
Most hatcheries will send a few extra birds to help make up for the losses.
If you are losing a quarter or more of how many you ordered then something is still not quite right and you might need to do some investigating.
Feeding Your Baby Chicks
If you are raising broilers (meat birds) then they need to eat completely different and you should head over to this post to read the best feeding routine for them.
Feeding is pretty simple. Keep their feeder full with chick starter and the waterer full of clean water while they are growing and you will be fine.
Side Note: Something to check into before you buy chicks if you live in town is to make sure you are able to keep chickens. You might be surprised how many major cities allow people to raise chicken. Most do not, however, allow for a rooster.
Should You Keep Your Baby Chickes Separate Or Keep Together
If you order bantams, turkeys, ducks or anything other they chicken at the same time they are going to ship them all together in the same compartment most likely.
Shipping is fine but living together will cause issues.
Bantams, of course, are very easy to trample.
Turkeys… well God
Duckings LOVE the water and will make a disaster out of any amount of water you give them. If they are in with the other poultry they will get wet and cause them to be cold most likely killing your other birds because they could not get warm.
Adding The New Chickens To Your Existing Flock
One last thing that needs to be touched on is introducing new birds to your flock. How well this goes depends drastically on the breed you already have. I have never been a fan of RoadIalnd Reds and I have several examples to prove my point.
Watch the behavior of the original flock and if you can either put the birds in the coop at night and everyone wakes up together things seem to go a lot better with far less to no fighting. But also make sure that the new birds are being allowed to eat. We had a situation where the old hens were not letting the new birds get to the food and lost a few before we realized what was going on.
Then we have had Columbian wyandottes that take on new birds like they were their own babies.
You should be well on your way to being a poultry master by now. Have fun with your new feathered babies. If there is something I did not cover that you would like to see added to the post, let me know in the comments.