Chicks are the cutest and funniest things you’ll ever see! You’ll just want to play with them all day! However, when caring for chicks, it’s not all fun and games. You have to spend a lot of time and money caring for them and it doesn’t always go the way you planned. Continue reading to find out how to successfully care for your new chicks.
Think about whether chickens are the right pets for you.
Chickens do cost money and take up your time. You’ll need to feed them every morning, provide them with fresh water, clean up their coop (which is a big task), make sure they are safe, provide extra space, collect eggs, worry about diseases, check on the chicks, and much more. However, you shouldn’t let worries overcome you. Most of the problems you hear about chickens are less likely to happen, you should still be aware though.
Decide whether you want to spend time caring for chicks.
Chicks are harder to care for than hens and can take up much more time. Also, you might not know the sex of the chick and you probably won’t want noisy roosters that will fight each other.
Think about whether you want to purchase chicks or incubate chicks. Incubating your own chicks is a great experience, but isn’t the easiest thing to do. You can also get already hatched chicks sexed but you’ won’t know the sex of the chick if you decide to incubate.
Realize that chicks aren’t all that bad.
The information above are all the cons of keeping chicks, now it’s time for the pros. If you take care of your own chicks they will turn out to be friendlier and tamer towards you, it’s a wonderful experience, and chicks are cute and a lot of fun! And besides, when the chicks grow into hens you will get fresh eggs everyday, fertiliser for your garden, and the chickens get rid of unwanted pests such as snails and slugs.
Gather the right supplies to care for your chicks.
Your chicks will need something to eat, some shelter, a source of heat, and some bedding. See a list of equipment below:
Heat lamp. Chicks need something to keep them warm for the first few weeks of their lives. A heat lamp is a common choice to go for but you can also use a 100 watt light bulb to keep them warm.
Bedding. The bedding is needed so you can easily clean up the chicks mess. For good bedding look for a material that is absorbent since baby chicks leave a lot of mess. Paper towels and wood shavings are good choices of bedding to use but try not to use newspaper since they are less absorbent, slippery and cause leg problems in chicks.
Feeder and drinker. Make sure the chicks have easy access to them and that they are away from the heat source. If you don’t have a drinker you can use some other container instead. Make sure it isn’t too big or deep and add pebbles to the container if you think its too deep for the chicks.
Chick starter. Unlike normal chicken feed chick starter contains more protein since the chicks need it. Chick starter can be bought from a local feed store and you can buy it in mash or crumbles and medicated or non-medicated. Medicated feed prevents Coccidiosis in chicks.
Thermometer. This is optional, the thermometer is to tell the temperature of the brooder. Although a thermometer is accurate, you can tell the temperature of the brooder by the way the chicks act. If they are huddled under the heat source, they are too cold; whilst if they are trying to get away from the heat source, they are too hot.
Decide where the chicks will stay.
Chicks need a sheltered, draft-free place to stay, such as a garage, shed, basement, etc. Since chicks grow quickly, you will need to have a lot of space to raise them before they are old enough to be transferred to a coop, chicken run, or yard.
The chicks should be kept in a calm, quiet, warm, well-ventilated, and predator-proof room. You should also have easy access to the room and brooder so that you can check and care for the chicks daily. You will probably need to check on them at least twice a day at the early stage of their lives.
Set up the brooder.
A brooder is a box-like container to raise your chicks in. You can use a simple cardboard box as a brooder or an aquarium, pet carrier, or something similar. The brooder has to be warm, but well ventilated to keep the chicks happy and healthy.
Add the bedding. Spread your choice of bedding around the brooder. You must clean the bedding daily so make sure the brooder is in an easily accessible place for you.
Set up the heat lamp. The heat lamp should be at 95 degrees for the first week of the chicks’ lives. Drop the temperature 5 degrees every week until the chicks are around 6 weeks old or have their feathers.
Put the feeder and drinker inside the brooder. Make sure they are both away from the heat lamp and the chicks can easily get to them. Fill the feeder up with a chick starter and the drinker up with fresh and clean water.
Feed the chicks.
The chicks should be fed a chick starter feed since they need a lot of protein. Feed them on a chick starter diet every day but don’t feed day hour old chicks.
You have a choice of feeding them chick crumbles or chick mash. The difference is the size of the pellets. You can also feed them medicated chick starter to prevent Coccidiosis.
Provide fresh, clean water at all times.
The water shouldn’t contain any chemicals and should be available in a drinker at all times. Refill it daily so that you know it is fresh and clean. Make sure the chicks have easy access to the drinker and that it is away from the heat source.
A bowl of water should have clean pebbles in it if it is too deep so the chicks can’t fall in and drown. The pebbles also encourage the chicks to drink.
Increase the available food and water as the chicks grow.
At 8 to 10 weeks, the chicks should be fed a grower feed and can now be given all sorts of treats including table scraps. However, they should not be fed avocado, alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, or salted treats.
The chicks should also have more space since they are a lot bigger than they were before. At least 4 square foot of floor space is necessary.
Prepare a coop and/or run for your chicks.
You can prepare a coop before you get the chicks, when the chicks are still young or before the chicks have to be transferred to a coop. Whichever one, you must be prepared as chicks grow very fast and will soon need a lot more space (4 square foot each).