Have you been considering getting baby chicks? Read on for 10 things you need to do before bringing home baby chicks.
We love our chickens. Many consider them the “gateway” farm animal. Once you have chickens you’ll want goats and once you have goats, cows aren’t too far behind.
10 things to know before bringing home baby Chicks.
So you’ve decided your next pets will be chickens. You’re going to love them. If you’re prepared, they’re super easy to take care of. When it comes to bringing them home there aren’t many things you need but be prepared they grow fast!
If you’re bringing chicks home from a store they’re likely just a day or two old. They’re ready to come home but need some special care.
The first thing you need to know is that Chickens grow fast. When you bring them home you’ll need a box or pen to keep them in. You want the sides to be solid so they don’t get stuck or hurt themselves and tall enough that they can’t get out. 18″ tall and approximately 1/2 sqft per chick is great for starting them out.
At about 2 weeks old they’ll need about 1 sqft per chick. You can start with a smaller box if you want or just set them up with a box big enough to grow in.
The second thing you need to know is that the chicks need their area kept clean. They will poop everywhere including in their food and water. Layer the bottom of the pen with newspaper and then spread pine shavings over the newspaper.
This will make cleaning up messes easier, you can just roll it all up and throw it out. You’ll need to do this about once a day along with cleaning food and water bowls.
Keeping chicks warm.
The third thing you need to know is that baby chicks can’t keep themselves warm. You’re going to need to keep them in a warm, dry, draft free area. You’ll also need a heat lamp. We recommend always using a red bulb in the heat lamp.
If you notice all the chicks are huddling under the lamp they’re too cold. Make sure they have room to move away from the light so they don’t get too warm.
If you notice they’re all staying away from the light they may be getting too warm, raise the light up a little bit and keep an eye on them.
What to feed baby chicks?
The fourth thing you should know before bringing home baby chicks is how to feed and water them. They should always have access to water. Keep water and food separate.
Keep an eye on food and water to keep them free from droppings. You’ll want to start the chicks on a starter feed. If they’re not drinking gently push their beaks into the water to get them started.
When bringing these babies home they can need some extra help. We like to have this Chick Boost Probiotics on hand. If they begin to look lethargic or even a little off add some to their water and if necessary use a little dropper to help them drink it.
Where to keep the chicks?
Number 5. You’ll want your chicks where you can keep an eye on them. We like to keep ours in the house for the first couple weeks. Make sure you’re keeping them away from where food is prepared or eaten.
As we mentioned above, you need to keep them away from vents/drafts. It’s hard for them to stay warm if they’re having air regularly blowing on them.
They also need to be kept safe from other pets living in the house. Even if you have a screen or something over the top of the brooder pen other animals can cause the chicks stress so keep them away.
Handling baby chicks.
The sixth thing you need to know. Should you handle your baby chicks? We say YES!
We want our chicks to be friendly and not scared of people so we handle them regularly. Here are a few tips for safe handling:
- Be gentle! Supervise children when handling baby chicks. Teach children that it’s possible the baby chick may poop or pee in their hand or on them. You want them to be prepared so they don’t drop or throw the chick if it happens.
- Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling the chicks. Don’t touch your face before washing.
- Support the chicks whole body when handling so they don’t get stressed thinking they might fall.
Number seven. Even at a young age baby chicks like to perch. To keep them from perching on their water or food (because they regularly poop while perching) add a few small bricks or blocks of wood to the pen.
Don’t raise them too high, just a couple inches is good for them to perch on.
The eighth thing you should know before bringing home baby chicks is that they grow fast. I mentioned this above but it’s important to remember this.
They quickly go from cute baby chicks to awkward looking teenagers and start to have some attitude. If you’re relying on children to help you care for the chicks they may start to lose interest because they’re not *cute and fuzzy* anymore.
This is another thing to be prepared for. It’s good to have a plan in place, chores assigned, and a routine while they’re cute and fluffy.
The ninth thing to know is that depending on where you bought your chicks there is a chance that depending on how many you purchased you have a rooster in the mix.
The last 10 chicks we purchased were sexed, which means they had checked if they were male or female. We still ended up with a rooster.
It’s a good idea to do some research about where you can take a rooster. If they’re not allowed in your area you’ll need to rehome your rooster.
The tenth thing you need to know. Have you ever heard the phrase “pecking order” before? Did you know it was a real thing with chickens? As your chicks hit that awkward teenager stage they’re also likely to start showing a bit of “personality”.
It is perfectly normal for chicks to start figuring out where they belong in their flock. There is always a hierarchy in flocks. The birds will figure it out.
If you notice one bird getting overly mean a good way to set them straight is to separate the bully for a few days. Just like middle school the pecking order will change while they’re away from school and things will likely be better.
We’re so excited for you to bring chickens home. Whether you’re living on a farm or bringing them to live in your backyard chickens are a fun pet to have.
Stay tuned for tips on raising your chickens once they’re ready to move out to the chicken coop.