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

You're the proud owner of a little "fuzz-butt"... now what do you do to keep it warm, happy, and healthy?
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    Raising Baby Chickens - The First 60 Days

    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.


    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.

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    CDA15, Haylea2495, Katrina89 and 3 others like this.


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  1. foghornleghorn9
    I use a large clear plastic storage bin so the babies can see me and see their surroundings. I attached some hardware cloth to some scrap lumber for a completely open air top. This allows me to use the heat lamp without worrying about melting the lid or possibly creating a fire. Inexpensive, effective and very, very easy to clean.
  2. HorseMadWhovian
    Can they imprint on each other?
  3. PiecesofAmber
    I just got my newest babies today! I got 3 Americaunas, 8 Red Rangers, 2 Cornish X, 1 Cuckoo Maran, 1 Pearl White Leghorn, 1 Brown Leghorn, and my freebie, a Turken! They arrived from McMurray healthy, active, and adorable!!!
  4. Nutcase
    Great article
  5. karlyla
    one of my chicks have hatched but i dont know how old...it is fluffy but i checks the day before and im shore there was no chicks. does anyone have any piccy's of 1 hour old chicks and 1 day old chicks? i found out in the morning, they were fluffy, would they be hours or day old?
    complicating i know. :)
  6. LoveNewChicks
    how high should the brooder wall be?
    ours (for our 1 weekers) is 1 foot, is that to short?
  7. tamdeva
    Just got my 4 new chicks today! 2 Ameracuanas and 2 Polish. So cute! Their brooder is a cardboard box, with a clamp on light 60 watts. It is in my office....lol. I put Hay in the bottom, so if they eat it, its OK, it will not hurt them. Shavings and newspaper or shredded paper could hurt them. The feed store gives it free, you just get the stuff on the ground that falls off the stack of hay! Recycle! I am thinking my box is to small already.......but it is only day one. But I am in love. All are named but one.....still searching for the perfect name. Ya, my DH thinks I have lost it!
  8. Seemsfamiliar
    Ducks will become ill if given medicated chicken feed. Grit is not a good idea and crushed oyster shells should be offered only when the hens are older.
    What kind of bedding do you reccomend the most?
  10. GreenGirlGrammy
    For lining the floor of the brooder, do not use straw or wood shavings at first. They get it down their throats. Just invest in a good roll of paper towels. It's not slippery like newspaper, which can cause leg injury. To change the paper towels I just start rolling at one end and the chicks just hop over to the bare bottom. Then I do the same thing to replace it. Just roll it out and they hop back over to the paper side. I change it at least twice a day .They love to jump in the water dish and then go make mud in the feed dish. The secret to keeping the floor dryer is to set the water up on a little block of wood to help keep them from running around in the water. Same goes for the feed.
      Lunalala likes this.

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