In the Brooder
6 Years
Aug 30, 2013
Yakima, WA
So I was not expecting to have to raise baby chicks but a friend gave me some and I need some pointers all I have to keep them in is a cardboard box. What would be best to keep them in? How often do I need to check on them? should I be this worried about everything? If this would have been planned I would have had this all figured out but I was hoping to start out with older chickens until I got used to the idea of the chicks and had more time to research what to do. Help me please! I don't know what im doing here and I was to raise these chicks the best I can!

They can stay in the box for the first day or 2, but you will need to keep them in a brooder of some sort, with a non-slippery surface, preferably wood shavings, or some kitchen roll for now. Don't use newspaper, it's slippery underfoot and can cause foot and leg problems. Keep the chicks at a temperature of 90-95*F at the warmest end on the brooder for the first week and reduce it by around 5*F every weeks after that. Most people use a red heat lamp for this purpose, but an ordinary 100w bulb will work too, for now. Don't hang it too close to the chicks/their bedding and make sure it's secure, so it can't fall into the brooder. When you fit the heat source, check that there are cooler spots in the brooder where they can go if they feel too hot. Also watch their behaviour. If you see them panting and trying to get away from the heat source they are too warm, if they huddle together and dog pile they are too cold. Replace the bedding often and make sure the brooder stays as dry as possible. Here are the suggested space requirements for chicks:

Up to 2 weeks: 0.5 sq ft per chick
2-4 weeks: 1 sq ft per chick
4-8 weeks: 2.5 sq ft per chick
over 8 weeks: 4 sq ft per chick

You will find lots of brooder ideas here:

Food wise, give them chick starter crumbs, medicated or non-medicated, it's up to you. The medicated starter contains small amounts of Amprolium drugs to help prevent Coccidiosis. It's not a vaccine though, they can still get it, but the drugs may help prevent an outbreak. Don't give them treats for the first few days, after that you can give them small amounts of cooked rice, egg or pasta and some meal worms, chopped greens like spinach. If you give them treats, make sure you provide some form of grit to help them break it down. If you can't find chick size grit, sprinkle some coarse sand over their food, that will be sufficient at first. Provide water in a shallow dish to prevent accidental drowning (small chicks are clumsy) and don't put it under or near the heat source. I like to add a few drops of unfiltered ACV (apple cider vinegar) in their drink water to help prevent pasty butt, which is basically poop clogging up their vents, making it impossible for them to relieve themselves. Is fatal if undetected and untreated.

The chicks will stay in the brooder until they are fully feathered, which will take about 6-7 weeks from birth. After that they will not need the supplemented heat so much any more and can go live outside full time. In the meantime you can take them outside if it's warm and you have a secure, predator proof place to keep them in. Unfortunately lots of predators like chicks, so be careful when you put them outside.

Hope this helps!
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Yes it is normal to worry! I found that gets better as each week goes by. Mine our 4 weeks now and I'm pretty calm. LOL And don't forget to enjoy them! I love just sitting and watching them run around and peep. Very relaxing!
Sumi did give you good advice,some of us have it down by now. Rather than three brooders just get one large enough to start with. They will find the warm area if they are chilled and need to be able to move away if they get too warm. Don't use cedar shavings around them, they are toxic! Depending on the climate where you live they may be able to go outside earlier than 6-7 weeks. Mine got booted when they were only about 4 weeks old. And relax and enjoy your little ones, they don't stay that way long.

The babies are doing great :) still not used to me but im sure they will be soon enough. They are adorable! Just hoping they turn out to all be hens!
They will adjust to your presence although mine went through a teenager stage when they wanted nothing to do with me. Don't be suprised. Once they started laying they all calmed down again.

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