Raising baby chicks.

johnkian

Hatching
9 Years
Mar 8, 2010
3
0
7
Raising hens from baby chicks requires you to check on them often during the first few weeks. It's really fun to watch them turn from downy, fluffy little balls into feathered-out, gawky adolescent pullets. With some basic know-how, you can raise happy, healthy laying hens and, if you choose, roosters.

To start with, you need some chick-specific supplies:

* Brooder. A brooder is some kind of tub or container for them to live in. The brooder can be a galvanized metal feeding tub, a large plastic feeding trough, or even a circle of cardboard. The purpose is to keep the chicks confined under the lamp so they don't wander away, get chilled and die. It should provide 2 square feet of space per chick.

* Heat lamp. Purchase a 250-watt infrared heat lamp. Make sure it has a guard to prevent a fire if it falls. A red bulb is best as it decreases picking.

* Thermometer. In the first few weeks of their lives, you need to keep your chicks at a relatively constant temperature. You'll start them out at 95 degrees F and slowly lower the temp 5 degrees per week as they grow. When they reach outside temperatures and have their feathers (around 6 weeks), you can remove the lamp and brooder.

* Waterers and feeders. It's worth investing in special chick-sized feeders. For waterers, you might need smaller ones to fit in your brooder comfortably. I like the feeders with holes that they peck through. You'll save enough money in wasted feed with the chick feeders that it will pay for their cost. They're designed so that the chicks can't get into and poop in the feed or tip it over. Allow free access to feed at all times.

* Bedding. Baby chicks need bedding just like older hens. Pine shavings are best as straw or hay are the wrong scale for them.

* Feed. Use a high-quality chick starter feed. Different brands of feed will have you transition to grower at different ages - some at 6 weeks of age and some as late as 6 months of age. Follow the recommendations of your feed manufacturer.

* Supplements. Use a high-quality chick starter and consider an electrolyte powder in their water for the first few weeks to ensure good health. Farm-grade diatomaceous earth sprinkled in their food keeps pests away.
 

thespinningcottage

Songster
10 Years
Jun 24, 2009
598
9
164
Arcadia, Florida
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Thanks for the helpful advice!
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