Raising baby chicks. What to do and what not to do.

By CherriesBrood · Apr 9, 2016 · Updated Apr 13, 2016 · ·
  1. CherriesBrood
    Raising baby chicks. What to do and what not to do.


    When it comes to raising baby chicks we know how hard that can be. I'm going to give you a few tips on how to make your experience more enjoyable and less regrettable.
    First let me tell you it can be very easy to take care of baby chicks, and then it can be hard. You need the right equipment in order for it to be easy.

    First the brooder~


    Remember the expression "Home sweet home?" Would we want to have an odd shaped home? For example an oval home? No, we wouldn't feel comfortable like in a regular home. Chick brooders are supposed to resemble mother hens or and make them feel safe and comfortable.

    What not to use-

    Don't use a cage on the ground, cages have no walls and they make chicks feel insecure, plus when you try to grab baby chicks they will run to the back afraid and it will be hard to catch them, if you have a cage that's up higher then that's okay because the chicks will feel more protected.
    Don't use a cheaply made brooder box that can be broken into. Even if you think you have the brooder in a secure place there's always a possibility something can get into it, whether it's your cat, dog, farm animal or wild animal, even if you think the animal won't attack the babies there's a possibility they can break or open it up leaving the chicks to escape.
    I suggest not using a brooder on the ground, or a brooder where you pick babies up from the top. I say this because when you go to pick the babies up they will be scared. They will view you as a hawk swooping down to snatch them up for dinner. Think about it. These are tiny little things and their instinct will tell them to run away if they see something coming from the top angle, well when you pick them up from that angle they will remember that so when they grow up they will still view you as that hawk and run away from you.

    What to use-

    Use a brooder that's sturdy. You can never go wrong there. I always say its better to be safe than sorry.
    Use a brooder that's up off the ground. This makes baby chicks feel safe and secure.
    Use a brooder that has an opening on the side, not on the top.
    Use a brooder where you can access the waterer and feeder easily, and that's easy to clean out. If you don't you will be regretting it, trust me!

    Other than that make it your own and have fun with it! :)



    Chicks that are 1-3 days old must not be handled a lot. Remember they are very tired from hatching out of their shell, that took a lot of work. They need time to recover and get used to their new home/brooder. If you handle them too much it can stress them out. This doesn't mean not to handle them all together, but just be careful with how much you do so, these are tiny babies.

    Ways to handle them-

    Remember once again these are tiny babies and they need to be held with care. Hold them with two hands, make sure your hands cover the wings of the babies and put the legs between your fingers so they hang. Doing this will prevent the baby chicks from being able to jump out of your hands.
    Never hold them upside down like a baby. The above picture is an example of how to NOT handle them.

    What to never do with baby chicks-

    You should never kiss baby chicks. No matter how tempting it may be or how cute they are, don't kiss them. They are dirty, and can give you some sort of sickness from doing so. Don't put them close to your face. And remember to always wash your hands after touching livestock.

    Raising baby chicks inside or outside-


    Raising baby chicks inside has lots of benefits, but then it has its disadvantages. Raising them outside has a lot of benefits too, and then it also has its disadvantages.
    Which one would you prefer?

    Advantages & disadvantages of raising baby chicks inside-

    Baby chicks are more protected inside from the elements of the outdoors.
    You can closely monitor them.
    Raising baby chicks inside will probably mean they will be more docile when they grow up because you might hold them more than you would if they were outside.
    But also keep in mind they will not be able to see the outdoors when they are raised inside. This is important as they will be living outside when they are older.

    Tip: If you raise baby chicks inside and if you can make sure to bring them outside once in awhile for fresh air, or better take them to their future home/coop so they can get used to were they will live when they are older.

    Advantages & disadvantages of raising baby chicks outside-

    Raising baby chicks outside can be fun for everyone!
    Baby chicks will get the chance to grow up in the environment that they will be living in when they are adults.
    It's a lot healthier for them too, because during their young age their immune systems are hard at work building up to sicknesses so when they become adults they won't have to face as much. Keeping baby chicks outside will introduce them to sickness bugs that their bodies can build up against so when they are adults their immune systems will be strong.
    One disadvantage of raising them outside if they are not protected well a predator can get them, or the elements.

    What to feed baby chicks and what to not-


    We all know chicks eat starter food and they can have some treats, but what are the best to feed them, and what is not?

    What to feed baby chicks-

    The best food for baby chicks is medicated chick starter. If they haven't had their vaccines this is a great second option. And if they have had their vaccines this is still very good feed to give them. It will give chicks vitamins and nutrients.
    As for treats baby chicks love red colored things. So berries and watermelon they will go crazy over, but do not feed chicks that are younger than a week these things, as they are too young to digest them and they can only handle their food. Also mealworms is a treat baby chicks will go crazy over, it's one of their top favorite treats!
    Another treat that's super good for them is parsley. Parsley gives chicks vitamins and helps with feather and bone development. It's a tasty treat that's super good for them! If you wish to feed these things to your babies when they are under a week old give them some chick grit so that they can digest it easily. Also do some research on what other herbs you can give your flock. This will boost their immune systems/laying production.
    This isn't all but look up online the chicken treat chart.

    What to not feed baby chicks-

    NEVER feed chicks, or full grown chickens,
    Banana peels
    Apple seeds

    (Only limited amounts of Citrus)
    Also look up online toxic foods for chickens more will pop up that you can read about.

    Tip: The best way to set up their waterer and feeder is to hang it, this way they can't jump on top of it to poop in it, plus they won't be able to knock it down or kick their bedding in it.

    Extra's to do and not do when raising baby chicks-


    So we have talked about their brooder, handling, raising them inside or outside, and what to feed them. There are some extras left over that I didn't mention.

    What not to do-

    Don't freak out when...
    They run around for a minute and then do the drop dead look. They're just sleeping! They take a nap for a few minutes wake up run around get all their energy out and then take a nap.

    What to do-

    Do research! You can never go wrong with the right knowledge. Baby chicks are super fun, but you have to do your research.
    If you're even 50% positive your baby chick is sick don't hesitate to call someone or research it.
    Most importantly have fun with your new additions, they love the attention and you'll love their cute little faces!


    Thanks so much for reading everyone. Comments are appreciated. :)

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    About Author

    My main goal is to help others learn more about chickens. I love writing, researching, learning and helping others wherever I can. :)


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  1. Chickamamma
    Great Tips, love the pics!
  2. CherriesBrood
    Ok, will do. Thank you.
  3. Magpie1
    You might want to clarify the part about which food to feed chicks. I feel like you were trying to say chicks should be fed medicated feed if they haven't been vaccinated for coccidiosis and non-medicated feed if they have been vaccinated. Otherwise, interesting article.
  4. CherriesBrood
    Thank you so much.
  5. ChickenLover200
    Out of ovations for today. Great article (even if that emoticon doesn't work here, still, "thumbsup" lol
  6. CherriesBrood
    Your right, thank you!
    And, don't forget the meal worms once the chicks are a few days old.
  8. CherriesBrood
    Thanks you Alex! c:
  9. CherriesBrood
    Very nice setup lilyput! I have my brooder in sorta of the same set up. My babies can see the hens 24/7 and they can see the babies. Doing this will help them to get better integrated into the flock when they no longer need their brooder.
  10. Alexandra33
    Very well-written and informative, Cherry! :)
  11. Lilyput
    I love raising baby chicks outside. I have a good set up. My coop is within a very large three sided "barn". The chicks go into a dog cage which has netting all around the sides on the bottom which sits on a table. I use a heater which radiates heat down from the top (no light) and the chicks run and huddle in it as much as they like and; of course, all night. They can hear and see the hens. I cover most of the cage at night until they feather in. I love this method. They are on natural light and no mess in the house. I also introduce them slowly to some of the hens' litter, which their mother's would do. I think the chicks are a lot healthier, happier, and safer outside using this method. When they become pullets, their cage is placed closer to the ground with added roosts; and when fully feathered go into a fenced yard with a small coop within the larger fenced yard to acclimate to the outside, and then allow hens and them together at 12 weeks old.
  12. CherriesBrood
    Your welcome, thanks for telling me. It's being featured? Do you know where? I was starting to wonder why I was getting so many views. lol
  13. Westmarch
    Thank you for adding the grit part! I just remembered that as a mistake I made when I was new to having baby chicks! This is a really great article, so I'm glad it was featured. (I somehow had NO idea that chicks could not have apple seeds.)
  14. CherriesBrood
    Hello westmarch,
    I understand what you mean I forgot that tiny babies cannot eat those sort of things, when I was writing this I was referring to older chicks. My apologies, I will edit that right now.
    I do not. I wasn't thinking about them not liking those brooders. I don't think I had that in my article but I will look. I have used a brooder like that before and your right mine seemed to love it. In my article I was just saying would we like to have an odd shaped home. I think there might be a misunderstanding there.
    Thank you for clearing these up.
  15. Westmarch
    This is a great starter article, but it does have a few things missing. You shouldn't feed young chicks berries, parsley or anything else without giving them chick grit, and it doesn't say anything about that here. Chicks cannot digest anything besides chick crumble - and very soft food like yogurt or mashed egg - without eating baby grit, and chicks in a brooder have no access to natural grit the way chicks raised on soil do.

    I am also curious if you have any source for chicks "not liking" hexagonal brooders - myself and many other BYCers utilize the cardboard panel brooders with extreme success, and they can be all sorts of shapes as you expand them for growing chicks.
  16. CherriesBrood
    Thank you. c:
  17. sunflour
    Very well done. I love the Intro pic.
  18. CherriesBrood
    Thank you. c: Your welcome.
  19. chicken4prez
    They have to put this on the BYC homepage! Thanks for doing this!
  20. CherriesBrood
    Thanks so much!
  21. chicken4prez
    I will be here a lot then:)
  22. chicken4prez
    Great article Cherry!

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