General Information About Raising Chicks!


In the Brooder
Jan 5, 2016
Hey guys! I was thinking about getting my first batch of baby chicks sometime soon... any words of advice? What to avoid, a good size brooder for three chicks, best hatcheries (local not mail order) in the Pottstown PA area, best temperature, best food, how to handle them... just anything you know will be greatly appreciated!! Plus, feel free to post your questions too!


11 Years
Oct 16, 2010
The biggest mistake new chick owners do is overheat them in brooder. Not that a brooder needs to be huge as I've brooded 14 chicks in a small tote before. The key is not to think you absolutely need a heat lamp and purchase a 250 or 150W lamp. In very small brooders a 60 watt incandescent bulb is plenty and always leave your heat to one side of brooder so there is cooler side for them to self regulate temp. Heating pads are gaining attention by people here you could do a search for that if your interested.

Chickens are the easiest livestock to manage. They're self reliant and only needing water, feed and protection from predators. Basic chick starter feed to start them out with, mash or crumble form. If you choose to use medicated starter it can be stopped at 8 to 10 weeks then use non medicated starter/grower. Don't move on to a layer feed until they start to lay or combs are completely red and point of lay. Depending on bird that can be anywhere from 18 to 30 weeks but once combs are all red they will drop first egg in few weeks.


Jul 17, 2016
My experience was to keep them clean. Check them for pasty butt and wash them if needed (gently...don't pull at feathers). Be careful to buy an appropriate water dish so they don't drown and buy the starter feed. Once you start giving other treats, supply them with grit. Handle them and talk to them frequently so they grow to know and love you. Remember to practice good hygiene and wash your hands after touching anything in brooder or coop, and no matter how tempting don't kiss them. Also enjoy those little fuzzie creatures. They get big fast!


Jul 17, 2016
I just used tap water. Use a waterer designed for chicks. You can buy one or make one (Google diy ideas). Just don't use an open dish is all. Also. Pasty butt is when the bird's droppings stick to the feathers near the vent and harden. You need to wash it off, because it can be deadly (can paste over and seal the veal area shut). Check their butts when you check on them everyday. I only ever had one chick develop this. So I soaked her behind in warm water and gently cleaned it away. Get them dry and under the heat lamp as quickly as you can if this happens to you. My little one was just fine and rather enjoyed her bath I think. Haha


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
How to even approach these questions? You can write books on a whole lot of these things and people have. You might want to go to the Learning Center at the top of this page and just read any articles that strike your interest.

A lot of this is personal opinion and personal preference, not hard laws of nature. In my opinion cooking them in the brooder before they are butcher age is not the worst mistake people make, I think it is that many people expect them to be little programmable living emoticons where each and every one of them are identical, will always react the same way, and all require the exact same thing. Theyare not they are living animals, each with their own personality, preferences, and needs. Or maybe the worst mistake is that people think there is a “best” way for every chicken on the planet. We keep them in so many different circumstances for so many different reasons there is no best way for anything. It varies person to person, flock to flock, and it can change over time. There are just so many different ways to do about any of this stuff that work perfectly well that if anyone ever tells you that you have to do something a specific way, it’s usually a good idea to get a second opinion. I’ll give you some of my opinions.

There is no perfect temperature for chicks or a perfect size for a brooder. Just like different people, different chicks are more comfortable at different temperatures. I agree with Egghead. The best brooder is one that keeps one area warm enough and other areas cool enough. As long as you give them a choice they are great at self-regulating temperatures. Just watch your chicks. If they are all huddled near the heat source when they are awake, they need more heat. If they stay as far from the heat as they can get, they are too warm. The ideal is when they are scattered around. You can use a thermometer to help your self-confidence but take your instructions from your chicks.

A brooder needs to be big enough so you can provide food, water, and some room for them to get away from the heat. They need some room to play. They grow really fast. What age will you take them out, four weeks or sixteen weeks? There is a huge difference in space requirements at different ages. I don’t believe in any of this “square feet per chick” stuff even if it is tied to age. Make it bigger than you think you need and watch their behaviors. They will let you know if it is too crowded.

A huge danger to chicks in a brooder is wet. A wet brooder stinks, produces foul air for them to breathe, and can harbor diseases. If they stand in wet all day it can harm their feet. Keeping a brooder dry is extremely important, in my opinion.

I’m guessing you want females. I could be wrong, that is an assumption. You could join the Pennsylvania group in the “Where am I? Where are you!” section of this forum and chat with your neighbors. They may know of local hatcheries or may be able to work with you in getting the chicks you want, but it’s really hard for us to sex most chicks until they are older. Be aware of that if you decide to get chicks from an individual. Many hatcheries have minimum orders, even if you pick the chicks up yourself. Maybe someone could split an order with you. You can start a thread with the title “Pennsylvania Hatcheries” and hope someone in Pennsylvania sees it. You can call your county extension agent and ask them. That’s the kind of stuff they should be able to find for you.

Boy can you get some opinion on “best” food. We do so many different things, normally successfully, that this is pure personal opinion. An adequate way is to look on the bag of the chicken feed you are getting and see if they have a feeding chart on it, telling you which of their feeds to feed at various ages. That assumes their feed is all they eat. A lot of us don’t follow that, many feed higher protein feeds, some of us lower protein feeds. What treats we feed may make a higher or lower protein feed better. But in my opinion, unless you have certain goals where feeding is important like raising them to butcher, you have a lot of latitude in what you feed. Even raising them to butcher you have some choices depending on what age you butcher, whether you pasture them if keep them in a coop/run, and what kind of chickens you are raising. There are no hard and fast rules that apply to everyone.

I could go on but that’s enough typing this morning. Read in the Learning Center and read various threads on here. Go to a hatchery website and read how they say to take care of your chicks. Try to pick out stuff that applies to your unique situation and goals. Then just try something, it will probably work.


Mar 17, 2015
SW Ohio
When we first got chicks, I knew nothing about raising chickens. I had never even held a chicken!
I bought a book, joined this forum and started reading.

Chickens are very easy to raise. Give them an adequate, clean living space, fresh water, food, proper ventilation and keep them safe from predators.

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