What Baby Chicks Require
Chickens make great pets and are easier than most other pets to raise. However, new chicks are very fragile and need special care to survive. They are shipped from hatcheries just after hatching and the travels are hard on the new babies. It's not uncommon for some of the chicks to die during the trip or be "on the way out' when they arrive and in the days after you bring them home. They go without food or water for a day or longer during shipping and often go through weather they cannot handle. So it's important they get the attention they need immediately after arriving at your home or feed store.
Chicks need to be kept very warm, as they cannot regulate their body temperature at first. A heat lamp is necessary and their "brooder" must be kept at 95 degrees the first week. The temperature can be lowered by 5 degrees each week thereafter. This is done simply by moving the heat farther away. The chicks tell you how comfortable they are by moving closer or farther away from the light. They peep loudly and huddle together when they are too cold.
Water should always be available to the chicks. Special chick waterers are available at the feed store. The chicks may need to be shown where their water is. Do this by gently dipping the bird's beak into the water. It's important not to use a deep bowl the chicks could get wet in and get chilled. The first week electrolytes from the feed store may be added to the water to help the chicks along and recover after shipment (note our yellow water!). Watch to make sure the chicks are drinking.
Be sure to use chicken feed that is specially formulated for baby chicks.
Brooder aka "the baby chick house"
A large box (ventilation holes made if box is closed) or tub 12" high or taller works fine for a few chicks at first. The brooder should be somewhere free of drafts and predators. Shavings (not cedar - it's toxic to them), are great for their floor/bedding. News paper should never be used as it's too slick and causes leg deformities. We covered the shavings with paper towels the first few days so the chicks could learn where their food was and not eat the shavings instead. The chickens can go into an outdoor coop around 7 weeks when they have their adult feathers.
Baby chicks are very very delicate and squishable. Small children should not be holding the chicks at first. We have B (3.5) just put her hand into the brooder and let the chicks come to her. When picking up chicks, just cup them so that there is not any pressure on their bodies.
Not a glamorous subject at all, but important nonetheless, as it is fatal to baby chicks. The stress of shipping baby chicks can cause them to "paste up" or get poopy bottoms that plugs them up and eventually kills them. Chicks bottoms should be checked daily to be sure that area is clear of dried chicky poop. Gently wipe it away with a warm wet towel if there is anything there.
Thank you all who entered the
Tea Collection giveaway. It was a lot of fun and I plan on doing more
awesome giveaways in the future! The winner was picked randomly through
Random.org (multiple comments were not counted as multiple entries) and
is The Stone Family! Congratulations, I will be emailing you shortly.