If you’re here to find information about how to get started and you’re serious about becoming a new chicken owner, then you’ve come to the right place. If you are looking to fact check, scroll down, there’s good information here for you too!
Let’s get started by defining what’s necessary to know. We’ve categorized information by topics below.
How To Raise Day Old Chicks –
Where to buy…
Day old chicks can be purchased from a breeder, a hatchery, or even, your local feed store. Are you looking for hens to lay eggs? If so, make sure to choose from a brood that has been sexed. Sexing means the females and males have been separated for you. If the brood is straight run, be prepared, this group is free to run and you’ll have lots of fun trying to guess what sex your chicks are. At least, until they mature and reveal themselves. Generally, around 4-6 months depending on the breed.
Supplies you will need…
* Warmer or Heat Lamp (250W bulb)
* Chick feeder and chick crumble
* Chick waterer
* Bedding pellets
* A way to containment them
Additional things to have on hand:
* Sav-A-Chick Electrolytes
* Chick Boost Probiotic
* Big Ole Bird
* Cotton swabs
* 5-10ml syringe
The details to know…
Chicks need the baby basics – clean water, food, security and warmth.
Day old chicks are always thirsty. Provide good clean water for them to drink at all times. The source of water should be made for chicks, so they do not get wet or trapped while drinking. This will also prevent the heartache of an accidental drowning.
Day old chicks can live off of their yoke for up to five days. That’s pretty amazing! However, if they’re coming by mail order from a hatchery, it’s necessary to have chick feed, or crumble, readily on hand when they arrive at your home. They’re going to be hungry! If the chicks are purchased from the local feed store or a breeder, typically, they will have already been started on crumble for you. Most feed stores and breeders will suggest a crumble at the time of purchase for the chicks. Please note, crumble comes medicated and not. Chicks are fed medicated feed as a preventative against Coccidiosis, or “Cocci”, a disease they can pick up from their environment. It’s a choice whether to feed medicated crumble or not. In some cases, you shouldn’t. Please read more information (here) for further explanation about medicated feed and vaccines and whether this could impact your choice.
Day old chicks require a good absorbent bedding. Using wood pellets for bedding allows for easy clean up and is excellent for absorbing spills. Wood pellets contain no chemical additives, because they must be safe to burn. There is no harsh odor and no harm if a bit is consumed by the chicks. Wood pellets come in a variety of wood types. Avoid cedar, the harsh scent is known to cause respiratory problems, and go for oak or pine. I’ve found pine to be the most cost effective. Pellets are also more cost effective than wood shavings. Here is another underlying factoid that shouldn’t be overlooked. Chicks struggle to stand on smooth surfaces. As you can imagine, it’s akin to trying to stand up in an ice rink! If chicks aren’t able to stand properly, they can develop a condition called splayed-leg. Pellets create a bumpy uneven surface that promotes good development and strength in their legs.
Day old chicks are cautious and curious, so it’s essential for them to be raised where they’re safe and secure. House them in an area where they can stay close to each other for protection and warmth. Remember, the chicks are getting accustomed to their new surroundings and learning how to socialize with each other. The interactions the chicks have during these first few days will, ultimately, help them develop their personalities and pecking order. It’s important that their surroundings do not over-stress them. Allowing them to bond and discover things naturally will create a happy and healthy flock. It is highly cautioned that day old chicks should not be raised in your home. See the information on(here) about potential diseases chicks may carry and how they could effect you. Chicks could be unhealthy due to any number of reasons. Check your chicks for signs of illness immediately upon meeting them. Chicks are sprinters, naturally. If you notice that your chicks are lethargic or have raspy breathing, quarantine them. Give them a boost in their water and monitor them closely to see if they bounce back. It will happen quickly, probably within hours, if it’s a passing ailment. Lastly, beware of bungy butt – also, sometimes, referred to as pasty butt! A bung is a stopper or cork. It doesn’t take much imagination beyond the name to understand how chicks develop this condition. Because, they have soft poo that could stick to their down, if it dries there, it could prevents further poo from being evacuated properly. This killer is easily diverted with a wet cotton swab and a tissue to pat dry.
Day old chicks should be kept warm. Warm, for them, is above 90 degrees. If the climate is cold, supplement heat with a heat lamp or a warmer. Chick warmers function as a replacement for a mother hen by radiating heat. Older chicks will rest on top of them, but, typically, day old chicks bundle up under the warmer. Choose one that is specific to the number of chicks you have. There are several good warmers available through feed stores and online, although I’ve found more options are available online. If you prefer to buy local, check into whether the local feed store can order the product for you. Heat lamps are also sold at local feed stores and online. Bulbs for heat lamps come in 250 Watt clear or 250 Watt Infra Red. It’s a personal choice which of these to choose. I’ve found the Infra Red bulb tends to be calming and the chicks are less stressed. Use a thermostat to make sure the temperature in your containment area is maintaining temperatures above 90 degrees. While, I have used both a warmer and heat lamps, I believe my birds benefited more from the warmer. The settings can easily be set to the desired temperature of your choice. Additionally, the chances of accidentally causing heat stroke or a fire are drastically diminished.
So, now you have the basics for getting started with your chicks. Enjoy! Have a specific question? Ask me (here).