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How To Raise Baby Chicks - The First 60 Days Of Raising Baby Chickens

 

Raising Baby Chickens - The First 60 Days

 

Related Tutorials: How-To #1: Hatching Eggs

 

Brooders

 

The chick's first home will be the brooder. For brooder designs and ideas see our chicken brooders section. The size of the brooder will depend on the number of chicks you have. Aim for at least 2.5 sq feet per chick, if possible, more is better. The bottom of the brooder should have a layer of clean litter (pine shavings or similar). For very small chicks paper towels over wood shavings is recommended. Newspaper is slippery underfoot and can cause foot or leg problems in chicks. Therefor it is not suitable for a brooder floor cover. The litter should be changed out every couple of days, and never allowed to remain damp - cleanliness is VERY important at this stage. Baby chicks are prone to a number of diseases, such as Coccidiosis, which thrives in a damp environment. This and other chick health problems can be avoided with proper sanitation. When the chick are around a month old, add a low roost about 4" off the floor of the brooder to encourage the chicks to start roosting. Don't put it directly under the heat lamp, it will be too warm there.

 

 

Temperature

 

The brooder can be heated by using a light bulb with a reflector, available at any hardware store. A 100-watt bulb is usually fine, though some people use an actual heat lamp. The temperature should be 90-95 degrees for the first week in the warmest part of the brooder and should be reduced by around 5 degrees each week thereafter, until the chicks have their feathers (5-8 weeks old). A thermometer in the brooder is helpful, but you can tell if the temperature is right by how the chicks behave. If they are panting and/or huddling in corners farthest from the light, they are too hot. If they huddle together in a ball under the light, they are too cold. You can adjust the distance of the light (or change the wattage of the bulb) until it's right. Make sure you always cooler spots in the brooder where the chicks can cool down if they feel the need to.

 

 

Food and water

 

Make sure you always have fresh, clean water available for your chicks. Place the waterer as far as possible away from the heat lamp and if you are using a bowl, fill it with marbles or clean pebbles to help prevent the chicks from drowning or getting soaked if they accidentally fall in.

 

Even baby chicks will naturally scratch at their food, so a feeder that (more or less) keeps the food in one place is good. The feeder shown is a popular design made of galvanized steel; the top slides off to clean and fill it. Again, cleanliness is important; the chicks will poop right into their own food, so you must clean and refill it often. Chicks start out with food called "crumbles". It is specially formulated for their dietary needs; it comes both medicated or not. Medicated feed is usually medicated with a small amount of Amprolium drugs, which helps prevent Coccidiosis. If you choose non-medicated feed, pay more attention to cleanliness. Chick crumbles is a complete food - no other food is necessary. However, feeding your chicks treats can be fun. After the first week or two, you can give them small amounts of treats every day. Remember when feeding treats to offer the chicks grit to help them break down the new food. If you cannot find chick size grit, coarse sand works just as well.

 

Play Time


Chicks are insatiably curious - after the first week or two, they can be put outside for short periods of time if the temperature is warm. They MUST be watched at this age, however. Chicks can move fast, squeeze into small spaces, and are helpless against a variety of predators, including the family dog or cat. If they have bonded to you (the first large thing a baby chicks sees is forever it's 'mama', this is called "imprinting"), they will follow you around. Chickens become fond of their owners; some will come when you call them (and some won't!).

 

Keeping chicks healthy

 

Chicks are prone to a condition called "pasty butt" where dropings stick to their vents and clog it up, making it impossible for them to relieve themselves. If left untreated this can kill them. Check your chicks' bottoms every few hours, especially during the first 2 weeks. If you find a pasty bottom carefully soak and remove the plug, pat the area and dry and apply a little vaseline or vegetable oil to the area. Organic ACV (apple cider vinegar) in their drink water is found to really help prevent this condition. A ratio of 3-4 tablespoons to a gallon water is recommended.

 

For more on raising chicks see the Raising Baby Chicks section of the forum.

Comments (66)

if brooded by hen should they stay with the hen or in a cage.
Chicks hatched by a hen can generally be raised by the hen, if her mothering instinct is good. They can even be raised in with a flock of adults. A good mama will protect the chicks, and when she is through "mothering," (usually 4-6 weeks) the chicks will stay together but can stay in with the flock. Watch behaviors, though, if you try this, to be sure attacks on young chicks are warded off, or don't get serious (draw blood) after mama returns to the flock.
At what hight should the tempeture be mesured?
at the height of the chicks, approx 3" off the ground or so is working for me just fine
I have a broody bantam that is trying to hatch a golf ball. I want to order 3-4 regular size fertilized eggs for her to sit on. I plan to seperate her into the garage where i have a small hutch. It is cold in wisconsin. Once hatched, can i leave her with the chicks in the garage and at what age or size should i put her back outside with my others?
I have 5 chicks that are all 5 days old. I was wondering when they will be able to eat things other than feed?
great info
really helped
Can you use fine mesh hardware cloth for the flooring of the brooder?
my chicks follow me around alot
its very cute
The lamp needs to be left on always, right?
Can I put alfalfa hay down in the bottom of a brooder? My chicks are hatching today. I have a rubber maid tub, but wanted to put something down besides newspaper. Hay is the only thing I have on hand.
We have a large flock of 36 chicks and a number of them are injured from extreme pecking. We have separated the injured ones out and also the bullies. What else can we do? The chicks are 3 weeks old.
Nice information. Can really help my new flock out!
wow this is a good summery
I am planning on getting about 15 chicks in a month or so and would like to know if I can build a cage in the unheated chicken coop with a red light for their heat. I only have 4 full sized Wyandottes and was hoping this method would let them be better aquainted when it is time to let them out of the cage.b Would this work?
Thanks this was helfpful for us new owners, which we got the Rooster from a friend,about 6 weeks ago, after getting 5 pullets hen from the local flea market, 1-hen has died, and the others or sickly, we got the antibotic from our local feed store, and they seem to be getting better, Feb. 3,2012, we got 8 baby chicks, they were born Feb.1,2012, this is the our girls, as what Polly, my wife calls them, she has each one name, thx again for the information, on raising our chicks, which is 26 days old today, and other ideas, or information we can find, plz let us know.
I have unmedicated feed because I have two pekin ducks in the brooder with the baby chicks, is this okay?
I bought a couple of those water bottles like you hang in a hamster cage. We took some of clear plastic storage things you can get at Walmart(or where ever...)the bigger ones. And cut a big square out of the lid, then covered it with screen..chicken wire would have been a better choice. Then we cut a hole in the side of the container just big enough to poke the hamster waterer nozzle through. You have to anchor it to hold it up on the outside. I think we used that thin electric fencing wire (We use that stuff for everything) We were not sure the chicks would figure out the water, and kept a very close eye to make sure they were drinking, and they were, they were all just fine, about a year old now. With the hamster waterer thingy, they can't poop in their water or knock it over. I could not keep water for them enough, and clean. After fighting with it for a while we gave this a try. The bottles are inexpensive, we just used the smaller ones, though they do have some bigger for rabbits. They might be to big for baby chicks as you wouldn't want them to get a nose full. The small ones worked fine for us.
I am new at chickens though, was using the hamster water bottle a bad idea and we just got lucky it went ok?
Great idea! Last year I was forever changieing the water because of the poop. I'm going to try this!
I have used the rodent water bottle for chicks of all kinds including quail and its worked well. I offer the big hens the regular waterer though due to the large amount of "water gulping" they do.
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