First Time Chick Owner...Help!!


11 Years
Mar 8, 2008
I am a first time chick owner that needs some help. I have wanted chickens all my life and decided that now was a good time. I have been reading about them, building a coop, and preparing for months. I bought two Rode Island Red pullets and could not be happier....But I am one nervous mama.

Peg, my little one was fine yesterday and is laying down everytime I go to check on them today.

Lulu, my big girl chirps really loudly when I something is wrong. (I have been loving on them quite a bit and know when they are chirping and when they are screaming)(I think)

I have them both in an old rabbit cage with newspaper over the wire floor. A big bowl of food and water. Books lining the outside of the cage. (we thought the wire was small enough but they can squeeze through) A lamp on top of the cage and the cage sitting on top of the vent for the warm air.

Does anyone know what could be wrong with Peg or why Lulu keeps screaming like something is wrong?

Or, should I do something different with my brooder set up?
The lamp is for heat? One heat source is plenty.

If they are over a vent even if the air is warm it is a draft. Probably too much air blowing over them. Move them off the vent.

They need a warm, draft free place. Week 1 temps at 95. Week 2 at 90. Week 3 at 85. Etc.

They may be experiencing environmental stress.
You also don't want them walking on newspaper when they are that little because they can get sprattle legs. I mean their legs are not stong and can slip easily on newspaper. Go to Walmart and get you a piece of burlap from the fabric dept. for cheap and put that on the bottom. It also help to keep the cage warm.
I'm confused... You say chick then pullet? Are these birds feathered out yet? If not quite, then they may be cold. Do they have plenty of water and feed easily accessable? Their legs may develop problems from the slippery paper flooring.

As they said... warmth, comfort and companionship will help them greatly!
This is what I would do....
First, take out the news paper, and get some PINE shaveing in there. Do not use redwood/ceder...its toxic to them. Take the cage away from the vent. Too drafty. The lamp is for heat...and should be all you need. Set a thermometer in the brooder..the temp should be 95 for one week olds....then 5 degrees less every week. Make sure the lamp is on one end, and they can get away from the heat source, if they need to. Have fun with your little one...oh, and Welcome to BYC..we like LOTS of pics! ( hint hint)
Ok...I am getting dressed right now to go to the store.

1. Move them off the vent

2. Get them off the newspaper.
(I did this to keep it sanitary. I am changing it twice a day)

Should I just start over and get a container with sides and some pine shavings instead of the rabbit cage?

If I get shavings or often should it be changed?

And my light does give off some heat but it is just a drop light...not a "warming light"

Everyone...thanks so much!!
I hope I catch ya before you go to the store.
While there....ask around, for a large cardboard box. Say....3x3ft or larger. This will be a good size for your babies and will cut down on the drafts. When you put in the shaveings...just about 1 inch deep. They love to scratch around, and "dust bath" in it!
As for the light, maybe get a brooder you can out a heat lamp in. They are not too expencive, maybe $9 for the fixture, and $5 for the bulb. Just watch you dont get it too hot in there for them. Dont forget the thermometer. Just a little one, like you can get from wal big deal. Set it under the light check for warmth. If too warm, raise the light.
As for changeing the litter...I just change it when it "looks" dirty. With 6 babies in my brooder, about 2x a week.
I think you may want to get a few more chicks. If you got your chicks a day or more old , the one that's crying may have already bonded with another chick that you don't have. Sadly, most bonded chicks don't 'get over it', some do but I''ve seen too many cry themselves to death two or three days later. If possible, walk around with your selected chicks before you purchase them for at least 5, preferrably 10, mins., if you think you may have a crier, put it back and make another selection......
Best of luck with the new babies, you're gonna love having them around.

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