Raising baby chicks for future egg production can be very rewarding. So, if you are thinking of raising a flock of your own, we’re here to help you prepare. We’ll provide you a checklist to make sure everything you need is covered before your chicks arrive or hatch.
The Brooder is the baby chicks’ first home and can be set up a day or two in advance to ensure all is in working order to provide a warm, dry area. Boxes or stock tanks are commonly used to start with. The brooder area will need to be adapted as the chicks grow. Heat lamps are used to provide the heat source, so you will want to obtain a heat shield that you can raise and lower over the brooder as needed.
The beginning temperature under the heat lamp should be 95 degrees Fahrenheit for just-hatched chicks. The brooder should have enough room for the chicks to move out from under the heat if they get too hot. After the first week, gradually reduce the heat by 5 degrees each week until reaching a minimum of 55 degrees. This can easily be accomplished by raising the heat lamp. Be sure to position the heat bulb far enough away from anything flammable as well. Some heat shields will be fitted with a guard to keep the bulb from touching things.
Pine shavings, like the Suncoast Large Flake, are an ideal bedding material. They provide insulation, absorb moisture, and they love to scratch and peck at it. Underneath the bedding, you can line the brooder with newspaper; this makes for easier cleanup.
Make sure you have feeders and waterers available for the chicks when they arrive. These will be different from adult poultry feeders, as they will have to be short enough for the babies to get to the food/water. Chicks may need their beaks dipped in the water container to introduce them to it.
If you choose to use an open container, make sure it is small, as chicks will drown in a container they can actually get in. Chick Feeders and Waterers by Little Giant work very well. Choosing feed that is specially formulated for baby chicks is important. Purina Medicated Start & Grow is ideal for baby chicks. It contains amprolium, which helps prevent coccidiosis (a parasitic intestinal disease common in poultry).
Baby chicks are very vulnerable during their first couple months of life and are affected significantly by changes in temperature. As anxious as many folks are to get started with their babies, some prefer to wait until later in the spring so the colder temperatures are not as significant to deal with. Being prepared is the key to ensure the brooder temperature can be controlled. If these babies get “chilled,” it can be detrimental and cause death.
We hope we have given you a few areas to be aware of before hatching or buying new baby chicks. You may also enjoy this short video from Purina that covers much of this info. As always, please leave your comments and questions and remember to follow us on Facebook. Thanks for stopping by!