WE got 3 week old chicks. Now what?


12 Years
Aug 14, 2011
My Humble Manor
We got 3 week old chicks from the feed store.

I was told I really don't need a light if I keep them in the shed or the garage where it is warmer. I have them in a dog crate in the garage. But I am wondering if they should be in a box with a light because I just went out to the garage and it's about 75-80 currently. And it will probably be cooler as the weather cools.

And, they are really skittish. How can I get them used to humans and not afraid?

Congrats! They need 95deg. for the first week and decrease by 5deg. each week after. If they are stressed or huddling together they may need a light otherwise 80 deg should be fine. At night it will drop so you may want to light them to keep the temp steady.

They will get friendlier as time goes by just handle them alot.
Handle them. give them good grower feed and see how they do with bread crumb treats.... they'll take a shine to ya with those.

Temp should be fine at 3 weeks.
Our White Leghorns were far more skittish from hatch until about a month old - now they're getting "warmed" up to us. They come running to the gate when I approach b/c they know I'll give them some tasty mealyworms. Treats are the way we got ours to let us come close. I touch them all the time - as they rush by me. They aren't snugglers - yet.
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Hand feed them, pick them up and cuddle them. They'll catch on. Ours have been handled daily since the beginning and run to us when we approach their yard from any direction. Today when I squatted down to give them fresh water, two jumped up onto my shoulders (when they were little, all three would, but they can't now). You might have a lamp on at night until they get their feathers. May the flock be with you.
Just keep picking them up and talk to them and sing to them....anything for them to get used to your voice. I read on this site about blowing on them gently when you pick them up. My chicks liked it.....not sure why it works. You have to spend alot of time with them in the beginning....llno problem cause they are soooo cute and so much fun!
Sounds like the temperature is just about right, and they will keep feathering out as they age and it's gets cooler. Just watch for any drastic changes (as can happen in fall) and monitor their behavior, i.e., huddling means their cold, panting means their hot. I kid, but it's super hot where I am now and my adult hens are actually panting.

Like everybody else mentioned, handling them is key, and now that they are old enough, you can try introducing appropriate treats when you do so. (I'm a total weirdo and make my own chicken treats). I always pick them up from the undersides as opposed to hovering over them (like winged prey) and I even coo to them which I swear totally works (did I mention I'm a chicken geek?). Consistency is important as well, so try to hang out with them at least once a day every day (twice is better, IMO) and before you know it, you'll have friendly pet chickens that want to follow you around everywhere. I used to run from my chicks just for giggles, cuz sure enough, they would run right after me.
The critical thing to remember when approaching a chick is to always bring your hands in straight from the side and not dive down at them from above. They react with fear to anything coming at them from above. And no abrupt motions.

For this reason, I construct my brooders with a side access and put them on a table instead of the floor.

If you've been picking them up by reaching down for them, start coming at them from the side so they can see who is behind the Big Hand. You will notice a big difference in how they react to you.

If you encourage them to step onto your hand or arm, they will gain trust even more quickly. Do this by placing the edge of your hand against the front of their toes. They often will automatically step onto your hand. Pretty soon they'll be perching all over you.
I am a firm believer in the heat lamp/bulb...and for my first chicks I did just as I was supposed to...but then I got 3 EE pullets in June...it was so warm, I never used the lamp...ever...they did great and now are gorgeous 11 week olds...watch them and see how they behave. If they are not huddled together, they are fine without the heat.

Hold them, talk to them, see if you can get them to eat treats (like cut up grapes etc) from your hand...some are skittish always, some love you right away...I mix water with my starter/grower, they go CRAZY for it...talk quietly to them also so they get used to you.

It takes time...and sometimes it just doesn't work...out of my 3 EE babes, only 2 let me hold them...out of the rest of my flock, only 2...but as they get older and start to lay eggs, the girls are more friendly.

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