Sugar Water and new babies - Update! They are here!!


10 Years
Jun 19, 2009
North of Dallas, TX
I have ordered 10 babies - due home in 2 days and someone has told me to use sugar water for them the first few days. I have always had a broody mommy so never had to worry too much about babies learning to eat and drink. What would the water to sugar ratio be? I will also be leaving on a short vacation when they are 2 1/2 weeks old. Any advise? I am think of keeping them in the house instead of my broody coop so they will be easier for my house sitter to take care of.
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I wouldn't use sugar water, ever. If they are stressed out you could use an electolyte solution...otherwise just give them the same treatment and food they got with the broody. I'd probably not put them in the house either...who wants to clean that?
The sugar water thing falls in the category of things you can do but don't have to. When they arrive, they will have spent two or three days in the mail. Just like chicks that might hatch first in an incubator or with a broody if the hatch is extended and she waits a while to bring them off the nest, they will be OK because they absorbed the yolk.

The idea with the sugar water is that they were stressed during shipping and the sugar gives them extra energy. I don't do it with chicks I get in the mail, but I don't think it hurts anything. I don't know how much it helps. Maybe it does.

As to how much to use, I'm not sure it matters a lot. I would not go overboard to where you get a syrupy mess, just enough to sweeten the water. As far as that goes, if you have it you can use the syrup you put in a hummngbird feeder.

Just use it in the very first water only and be sure you clean the sugar out of the waterer so it doesn't go sour.

I don't know anything about your facilities or your sitter. I keep my brooder in the coop but my sitter and set-up are different from yours. I don't know what your weather is going to be like in 2-1/2 weeks either. I don't know if they will need supplemental heat or not. I've turned heat off for chicks before they hit 1 week old in the middle of summer. If you lose power in the brooder, they are less likely to have problems with the cold in your house. How comfortable are you with your heating method that you are not going to burn your house down if there is a problem in the brooder?

I never keep chicks in the house because of the dust and noise. I want to stay married to the same woman I currently am married to. But that is your call.
I do not know if I am doing right or not
. .

For my chicks, from when they are 2 days old to when they are 10 days old, I feed then a treat of eggs scrambled in lots of oil and with sugar added to give them more Calories.

There normal feed (all they want) is 18 to 20% starter food.

Your thoughts are welcome
The first couple days after receiving my chicks, I put Save A Chik in their water, from then on, I mix 3T of ACV with a gallon of water and use that.

I kept my babies in a huge brooder in my house for the first 7-8 weeks, however, I got mine the beginning of June, so it was still rather chilly to put them out.
They will be in a enclosed type pen in the house and it is really warm here today - 90 - but it can get cooler and at night sometimes it has dropped down into the 50's. My husband has set up the light so that it has a reostat type thing on it to come on when needed and the chicks will be able to move from end to the other if too warm or cold. It did go to Tractor supply and get the electolytes to use for a few days. So I hope all will be well and no worries! They will be about 2 1/2 weeks old before we leave so should give me time to make adjustments if needed. Thanks so much for all the replys!
They should be fine in the house. Just make sure the person staying knows how to care for th em as far as water and food. I would use just starter on them. Switch to grower when they are about 6 weeks old and then layer when they are ready to start laying.
Oh thank you! I had never thought about grower. I did pick up the starter and have gone thru and even typed everything up and going to do a dry run before we leave. Have had chickens for years and always hatched with a broody so this all seems so different. Just thought that I would like to have something different other than backyard flock. What does the grower do for them?
It's nice when a broody does it all for you, but you don't have to make it too complicated in a brooder.

Having the heat at one end is great. Don't worry about that 90 to 95 the first week and dropping it 5 degrees a week. Just keep one end warm and let the rest cool off as it will. They'll find their own comfort zone as long as the brooder is large enough and well enough ventilated it can cool down. You'll notice with a broody they'll be out playing in really cool temperatures and just go back to Mama to warm back up when they need to. Same principle.

You can put all kinds of stuff in the water if you want too, vinegar, sugar, electrolytes, hummingbird syrup, whatever. It won't hurt them but mine get what they get with a broody. Pure clean water. Nothing added. They don't need that other stuff.

The general recommended progression with feed is Starter the first 4 to 8 weeks, then Grower from whenever that bag of Starter runs out until you switch to Layer. There should be something like that on the bag of feed. But many of us do it a lot differently and the chicks do fine. You don't have to be exact or precise. The general idea is a higher protein feed the first month or two to get them off to a good start, then lower the protein so their growth rate slows down to stay in tune with how fast the skeleton grows and their internal organs mature. Starter is probably 20% or a little higher in protein, Grower is somewhere around 16% protein, same as Layer. The only significant difference in Grower amd Layer is that Layer is high in Calcium, which can harm growing chicks. The only significant difference in Starter and Grower is the percentage protein.

You can raise them from day 1 on Grower if you want to. They will do fine, just grow slower. You can raise them on a 20% Starter if you want until they are grown. They will do fine, just grow a little faster. I would not use a Starter higher than 20% protein after the first couple of months though. You don't want them maturing too fast.

If you have decent forage a broody will raise the chicks without you providing any feed. Chickens have been raised like that for thousands of years. A lot of us make this a lot more complicated than it has to be.

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