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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. iceym pets
  2. GabbysGarden
    To clarify, please. The silkie, which I understand is great at brooding, just hatched a chick. She is capable of giving the chick all that it needs and we will not need to provide a different food/water source for the chick. Chick is in a raised nesting box, food is suspended from the ceiling in main coop, as well as water. There are 11 other chickens in the coop. Thanks for any help, this is our first chick hatched by it momma.
  3. dunkeldog
    Any suggestions- my silkie just hatched 3 babies. I am totally clueless on how to care for them. I plan on leaving them with her- she is a great mom. What do I need to feed them? Will chick starter be fine? Is it ok for the hen to eat the starter also?
  4. lizthenewbie
    This is where we are right now: we have two in an incubator, we've three in a brooder box but of these 3 only one is 5 days old. The other two are 2 wks old. We got the two older ones to help the baby to socialize with other chickens. It's not working real great. The older ones, even though they're small, can't take the heat that the little one needs are therefore, they are on one end of the box and little baby is once again all by himself. We lined the bottom of the brooder box with newspaper topped with papertowels. I change out the papertowels every day. We put marbles in the waterer so the little baby won't accidently drown. They drink between the marbles. This works well. I'm going to start introducing the two older ones to the outside this Saturday, for a little while. Then its back to the brooder box. Not sure this helped one single person but you never know - maybe. Thanks!
  5. craftydrae
    when can they eat regular paultry feed??
  6. AndreaDavis
    My baby chick, (days old isnt chirping. Opens his mouth like he' is but nothing! And dropping its head! Help!
  7. Carol.in.WV
    I've raised chicks by the method in the article and now am raising them by silkie hens. I really recommend letting a hen raise them if at all possible. Soon after hatching I transfer the hen and chicks to a pet kennel (locks up very tight at night against predadors) that has a bottom of play sand. I provide them with water either in a shallow dish or chick waterer with jar and with chick food. Within a day or 2 the momma has them out eating and drinking and at about 3 to 5 days old she will have them running all over the yard. The four Silkie roosters help her finding food for the babies and sheltering them under their wings when they are tired or cold. The mommas do not tolerate other hens or older chicks but there is no problem with the roosters, so they are fully intergrated into the flock practically from day one. Before I kept them separated and getting them together with the flock wasn't so easy. Also with this method the babies seem very healthy and cold tolerant. Yesterday was around 60 degrees and raining yet the babies were out in it and fine. I have an incubator but from now on will just use the silkie hens as long as I can
  8. ChickenGurl101
    Can you get a shot for your chicks to help prevent the diseases?
  9. blue feather
    hi my hen cotton eye joe is hatching we baught 13 eggs from a chicken breeder she is due to hatch them on monday 9/7/12 i was just wondering if when she is ready to return to the rest of the flock [we have 3 roosters] would the other hens and roosters hurt them
  10. countrygirl57
    I picked up my chicks last week, from the co-op country store. I have 8 Barred Rocks & 4 Rhode Island reds. The co-op thought they were only a day or 2 old. I think they may be older. Their wings have feathered out & Their little tails also. They are very active & constantly try to fly out when I play with them. Any suggestions re age?

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