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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

    Brooders
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    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.


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    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.


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    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.

Comments

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  1. jldrigge
    When is it OK to put my chicks in with with my other hen. They are about 5 to 6 week old now.
  2. gotpotbellypig
    that helps sooooo much! we are gettin baby chicks this spring so this article was just what i needed.
  3. Pollock Hill 20
    Well this is March 23, 2012, and we now have 20 hens, and 2- Roosters, when the babies are old enough we will put 10-hens in one pen, with the game ROOSTER, (Clayton), then the other 10 hens will go in a seprate pen with that Americana Rooster, whose name is Budwiser, Not sure at this time who goes where do to we got 4-new babbies today that will a week old tomorrow, We have 4-that we don't know there birthday, but we got them the last weekend in January, and was told they were 14 to 17 weeks old, then the 8- that we know was born Feb.1,2012, then we got 4 new babies,March 7th, and then today we got 4 more that was born March 17, ten days later, it's been interesting to see the different breeds, and watch the babies grow, and how much they change, and how they go thru the picking order,each one of my 20 hens are name, thx for the information for a new BYC owners, Tony and Polly
  4. Ritag
    Love is....cleaning the pasty butt of chick gently for 10 minutes! And then carefully snipping off the turd still attached to the furry down. You would think I was performing brain surgery the way my four year old was watching over my shoulder. I shouldn't be surprised though...he calls them his chicks! :)
  5. therisingers
    I'm curious about the water bottle idea, too. The water is SO dirty all the time and I have rabbits and fill those all the time and they are MUCH cleaner. Good idea it sounds like to ME. Thanks!
  6. Jordi36
    This was very helpful! My lil baby chicks follow me wherever I go! They also love to go outside and play on a warm spring day!
  7. mates5
    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.
  8. graphicgranny
    Great idea! Last year I was forever changieing the water because of the poop. I'm going to try this!
  9. pikeechickee
    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?
  10. tinamommy727
    I have unmedicated feed because I have two pekin ducks in the brooder with the baby chicks, is this okay?

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