Springtime, I look forward to spring every year. Our winters are cold and long and sometimes we have lots of snow. The warmer shift of the air is a welcome feeling and it is encouraging to know that spring is on the way. Spring to me is also the start of when the baby animals are born. But as with everything you need to prepare for all the newborn babies. Some of my favorites are the soft fuzzy baby chicks. This is what has led me to the topic of this post: How to get ready for those new baby chicks and other poultry.
There are many different ways that you can give those little chicks a good start into this world but there are 3 important things you need to remember. For many years my husband and I owned and ran a feed store. We sold a lot of different items in our store to raise and feed poultry. One of my favorite days in the spring was the arrival of various breeds of poultry
in the mail. I enjoyed ordering them in for customers and it was so fun to sort each of those cute little fuzzy birds, getting them ready for their new homes. The following information is what I learned from our store and from raising my own chickens.
Baby chicks need to be kept warm. I remember someone saying. “I took my chicks home and they died.” I ask if they had them under a heat lamp or something to keep them warm. They said no but their house was warm. Baby chicks need to be kept warm. They need to have a temperature of 90-95 degrees available at all times for the first week. It is very important to make sure you have them in an area that is free from drafts also.
I have used many methods to keep them warm and contained. One way I have raised them is with a heat lamp. I hang a heat lamp from a string so that I can raise it and lower it as needed. If the baby chicks are as far away from the light they can get, you need to raise your light a little. It is too hot for them and they will become dehydrated or just to hot and die. If the chicks are under your light and they are in a bunch you need to lower light. They are to cold and will suffocate and die as they bunch up.
The next thing you need to choose is what you will put them in to get them started. There are many things you can use. The main thing to remember when choosing your container is the size. Make sure it is big enough for the amount of chicks that you get and for them as they grow. I also think about the ease of cleaning and safety. A few times I used a large washing machine box with pine shavings in the bottom. One of the reasons I don’t like to use a box is fire hazard with the heat lamp. When I have a small amount of chicks I have used a tote and my favorite is a watering trough. There are also many commercial things you can use, fancy brooders, which I now have and have used many years. Make sure whatever you use as a container, is safe from predators and is not drafty.
An important factor to remember is ease of cleaning. I like to use shavings in the bottom. They are easy to clean out, but make sure you use pine shavings. It is not good for them to use cedar shavings. Some people use newspaper. Sometimes the chicks will get little spots on their legs. They can be allergic to the print on the newspaper. Just a few things to remember. It is very important to keep it clean. This will help your chicks to stay healthy.
Baby chicks need fresh water. Remember they can drown very easily. If you have a water dish that is very deep be sure and use marbles or small rocks in the bottom of it. Baby chicks will walk right through the water so the marbles or small rocks will help keep them from drowning and getting all wet. The following links have great ideas for brooders and for feed and water containers.
There are many different types of feeders to choose from for chicks. I like to get one that holds a fair amount of feed. You will be amazed at how much these fuzzy little chicks can eat. That leads us to a very important topic – feed. You can choose medicated and non medicated, but make sure you are using chick starter. Some people like to feed the medicated to keep their chicks from getting things like cocccidiosis. I had people at the store purchase scratch for their chicks as their main diet. In my opinion scratch is not easily digested for baby chicks and there is not enough nutrients for them. Remember if you want nice healthy animals you need to feed them healthy diets. Even if I have a hen that has hatched out her baby chicks, and is free roaming, I still have chick starter available for them to eat.
This is a great time to start planning and preparing for those baby chicks. Check back for more articles on raising chickens.
This is just my opinion on how I like to raise chicks. There are hundreds of different ways to raise them. Please leave a comment below. I am always open for new ideas.