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Raising your baby chicks


 Raising your chicks ~step by step~


Quick-Short Instructional Guide


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              The first important aspect in a chickens like is when it hatches. Hatching, is a great obstacle a developing chick faces to come into the world. It is a very tiresome and exhausting process. The chicks first pips a hole in the large end of the egg, then continues cracking it as they turn themselves around inside the egg. This part of the hatch is called zipping, and once it’s done, the chick now needs to push itself out of the egg, using all of the strength that he has got left in him. Once they are out, extremely exhausted, they fall asleep. They have overcome the first challenge in their little chicken lives.

Step #1:Setting up the brooder

Within four hours since they have hatched, the chick will be dry, fluffy, and ready to come out of the incubator, and into the brooder. But at least 48 hours prior to hatching, the brooder must be set up.

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If you don't already know, a brooder is a the place where the chicks will spends the first few weeks of their lives. The brooder is meant to mimic the mother hen, by keeping the chicks warm and secure.


  Basic Brooder Necessities:                  Optional but may be necessary:

                     ~Brooder box                   ~Protective(wire)lamp cover/shield

                               ~Bedding                         ~Brooder roof (absolutely necessary if outdoors)

                     ~Heat lamp                      ~Automatic timer for the heat lamp     


The Heat Lamp

       While seting up the brooder, remember to hang the heat lamp by a chain, not the cord. If it is hung by the cord, it may unplug,and fall on a chick, trapping it and burning it to death(this can be avoided by having the wire cover). The falling heat lamp will also, lay on the ground and not be able to warm the brooder, potentially chilling & killing the chicks. The trapped heat from the lamp to the brooder floor, may also light fire to the bedding and lead to the whole brooder ablaze. So hang the heat lamp by a chain, or clip it securely to the brooder, so it won't fall and kill everybody.                                                       


       It is also advised to use a infrared bulb for the heat lamp. This will produce a nice red and warm glow, that will give the chicks enough light for them to see, and not blinding them with a bright white light. White light, may also overstimulate the birds, causing them to become restless and noisy. It can also lead them to start picking each other, then eventually cannibalism. The nice, calm red glow of an infrared bulb does not overstimulate the chicks, it's not too dark for them to see, and it's not too light for them to be rowdy, it's just right, and is used by many breeders to help prevent pecking and cannibalism in their newly hatched flock. 

Feeders and Waterers 

       When placing the feeders and waterers in the brooder, it is best to distribute them around so the chicks have to exercise a bit to get what they need, but it should still be fairly close to the heat lamp. The waterers should be nearer to the heat lamp, because the chicks will not want to drink it cold, and cold water also discourages drinking. If the waterers are too close, or right beneath the heat lamp, the water will start to get slimy because of all the dust and litter that gets into it, and the chicks will not want to drink it. The feeders can pretty much go wherever, as long as they are not to far from where the heat lamp is.

 Additional tips on setup

    It is best to block of any corners in the brooder with a piece of cardboard, because chicks like to huddle together, and can suffocate each other if the can get into tight corners. It is also advised to put pebbles or marbles in the chick waterer. This is to prevent the chicks from drowning. Sawdust should not be used as bedding, for at least the first week, because young chicks cannot tell the difference between it, and food, and will eat it causing them to have things like pasty but etc.

Step #2:Having Chicks in the Brooder

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Teaching Them to Eat/Drink

      Once the baby chicks have dried, and are completely fluffy, you can then take them out of the incubator and place them in the brooder. Right before you set him down on the brooder floor, hold him in one hand, and take him to the waterer. With a finger on your other hand, dunk his little head in the water. This is to show him where the water is, and how to drink it. Do this with every chick before placing them in the brooder. With the food, take them to the feeder, and "peck" at the food with your fingers, and they will get curious, and peck it, and learn to eat. Remember, they should only be fed chick starter, or chick mash. If you ever run out, you can also feed them crumbled up hard boiled egg.

The Heat Lamp

     Right after you are done showing them how to eat/drink, place them directly under the heat lamp, so they know where the source of heat is. Make sure that you have left the heat lamp on a few hours before you put the chicks in, this is so the spot under the heat lamp has a chance to warm up, and the chicks can tell easily where the warm part of the brooder is.


      It is said, to higher the heat lamp so the temperature goes down 5 degrees per week, because, as the chicks grow, they will be needing less and less heat. But your best bet on how your chicks are doing temperature wise, is the chicks themselves. If you see the chicks huddled closely beneath the heat lamp cheeping loudly, it is too cold, and the heat lamp must be lowered closer to them. If the chicks are chicks make a circle around where the warm spot of the heat lamp is, like a doughnut, they are too hot. If they are all dispersed as far away from the heat lamp as they can go, and are pushing themselves against the wall of the brooder, panting, they are way too hot, and the heat lamp should be risen higher to lower the temperature immediately. If there are some chicks near to the heat lamp, and some wandering around, not piling on each other, and relatively quiet, the temperature is just right.

                         Too Cold                                       Too hot                                    Just right 2 cold.jpg 2hot.jpg  jus rite.jpg    


Step #3: Having The Chicks Outside

       Once the chicks are old enough, or at least fully feathered, it's time for you to move them outside. Some people like to have them in a tractor, until they are old enough to putt them with the older chickens. If you have a coop already built for them, put them in, but make sure that the chicken door that leads to the run is closed. They need to be locked in the coop for at least a week, so they know where to sleep and get used to the idea that the coop is their home, so when you do let them out, they will come into the coop at dusk to sleep without you having to herd them in.


Integrating them With the Older Flock


      If you want to mix them in with the older hens, have the chicks in a little chicken tractor(or separate pen)just outside the older flocks run, when they are old enough to be outside. You can put your chicks outside when they are about 3 or 4 weeks old, but they still might need a heat lamp.  So they will be in there, growing up beside your older flock, until they are two months old. The older flock will get used to the chicks presence there, and this will help them to get to know each other a little before you mix them in. Once the chicks are 2 months old, or stop making baby chick noises, you may put them in with the older flock at dusk by setting them on the roosts.


      Adding chickens to an already existing flock will trigger the reinstatement of the pecking order. The adolescent chicks will most likely not even put up a fight with the older chickens. Although the chicks will be very submissive, and run away when an older hen comes near, not being aggressive makes them easy to get along with the older hens over a period of time. Two months is kind of the sweet spot to integrate young chickens with the older flock. If the chicks are too small, the older chickens will kill them, and if the chicks are already full grown, the older chickens will kill them. They wont necessarily "kill" the full grown chicks, but they will fight allot, and this sometimes results in death of a younger chicken. At two months old, they are not too vulnerable, and they are not to feisty, so fighting or death should not be a problem. 

If you have any questions about any particular problem, just PM me and I'll be glad to help big_smile.png


Raising Baby Chicks Forum Section





Comments (47)

Very helpful!! I love this site. It has so many helpful people. Thank You!!
Thank you for this information, esp. the infrared light. I was told that I could use a regular light bulb instead of the infrared light. Last night was our first night with new chicks and boy were they noisy. Now, I know why.
At what age can you take the heat lamp away?
Once they are 2 months old, they don't need the heat lamp at all. But you can start turning it off during the day, and put it on at night, once they are a moth or so old. At the feed stores right now, the days are so hot they lamps aren't even on anymore in the brooders. So it also depends on the type of weather you have right now.
I have 3 baby chicks that will be 1 month old when I get 10 day old chicks. I have sectioned off part of the coup for the new arrivals, but How long should I wait until I can mix them together?
I have 13 coronation sussex chicks that are 4 days old. These are my first chicks ever. Got the brooder going well everyone looks happy active healthy... however , i have 1 that has a small black round scab just under her vent. she seems to be losing her hair just below that area and it is thin on her stomach and the skin looks slightly dark, where everyone else is white and fluffy. She is acting completely like everyone else as of now , but i don't know if i should be worried... please share your widom with me.
you could try supriving them now together ..i mixed some at that age ..even though there 4 weeks old there still in the chick stage and should be ok..i had some month old chicks and put 6 day old together ..had no problems at all ..but if you do ..make sure you can watch them for at least hour or so ..
This was very helpful. Getting my first ever chicks in May and am reading everything I get my hands on.
Thanks for this...getting my chicks in a few days and needed to be prepared.
why don't you have any info. on chicks that the mama hen has hatched out.................I have 8 little ones that just hatched today and plan on leaving them w. mama.
I am getting my 1st batch of chicks on may the 16th and this will definetly help me alot! Thank you!!!
I dont have any info about chicks with their mama on this article, but here's the other one that I wrote on broodies, It just didn't make the cut for the homepage that's all, hopefully it can be of some help to you. Have fun raising your chicks everybody!!
so i cacnt put my 2 day oldchick with others
Thank you for all of the info!
We have 3wk old Buff Orpingtons. Today we are going to pick up 2 more baby chicks, probably Dominiques. Will it be difficult to transition the new chicks in with the 3 week old chicks?
Great info! We have 12 chicks coming May 23rd...and I am reading & learning as much as I can!
Can I mix 5 month olds with 1 year olds?, even if their roosters?
Very helpful information! Thanks!
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