I would consider us seasoned baby chick growers, since we have successfully raised over one hundred baby chicks within the last couple years.
So when I got a question from one of my readers asking if I could give her any tips on raising chickens I had to share some things I have learned.
Much of our knowledge came from the old method of trial and error, but there are a few things that every new backyard chicken farmer needs to consider before bringing those adorable balls of fur home.
Here are 5 tips for raising baby chicks:
- Environment – Make sure your brooder is big enough that all of your chicks can move around freely. You can make your brooder out of any materials as long as if provides about half of foot for each chicken. We have user livestock water troughs, clothes baskets, storage bins, and when I just had two chicks I used a bushel basket.
- Heat – Suspend a red, 250-watt lamp about a foot above your brooder floor for warmth. Keep the temperature in the brooder between 90-95 degrees F for the first week, and start decreasing it by 5 degrees each week by raising the light higher above the brooder. I have learned to keep an extra bulb on hand in case of burn out.
- Bedding – You wouldn’t think baby chicks are messy but they are and their bedding needs to be changed daily. Pine wood shavings are the best choice for bedding. Newspaper and straw become slippery for small chicks.
- Water – Baby chick learn fast, but there is one mother hen duty you must teach as soon as you bring them home. Dip their beaks into the fresh clean water from a baby chick waterer and let them drink 4-5 hours before introducing feed to them. Raise the waterer a couple inches off the bottom of the brooder to keep the bedding from contaminating the water.
- Feed – Baby chicks are little-eating machines and will eat about 10 pounds of chick starter per bird in the first 10 weeks of their life. Find a good quality chick starter feed and that is all they need to get started. If you buy your chickens from a reliable source and your bedding and brooder are kept clean, you should not need to medicate or add anything to their diet but the chick starter feed for their first 10 weeks. I have always used the flip top baby chick feeders for my new arrivals.
We have so much fun watching our baby chicks grow into egg laying, meat providing farm birds. Record their progress, take lots of pictures and don’t be afraid to try new breeds.
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