Raising Baby Chicks

Happy Spring!

Its that time of year, when everyone is greeted by the Cheep! Cheep! of those fuzzy irresistible baby chicks at the farm store.   

The first year of living on our farm my husband and I thought it would be a good idea to purchase a few of these chicks and bring them home. We knew nothing about raising baby chicks and had no idea what we needed to consider. As a result of  impulse buying, freezing temperatures and lack of preparation an assortment of chicks and ducklings ended up in an old bathtub in our basement. (They made it look so easy at the store in those galvanized tubs).  

After that first experience, we learned there are things that should be taken into consideration and others that should be done before buying those fuzzy little chicks. To help others avoid making our mistake I am sharing what things I now take in to consideration before ordering or buying chicks.

Raising Baby Chick Basics

Resist the Impulse Buy!

When in the farm store and you hear the cheep! cheep! and see the assortment of cute, fuzzy chicks resist making an impulsive decision. Don’t decide to buy random chicks and hope you will figure the rest out as you go. In my experience the farm store has chicks for a limited amount of time, but they have them long enough for you to make an informed decision about bringing some home. Learn about raising a baby chick first and all you will need.

Research Raising Baby Chicks First

Terms You Will See
  • Broilers – A meat chicken processed at the age of 7-12 weeks when reaches  2½ to 3½ pounds live weight.
  • Cockerel – A male chicken less than 1 year old
  • Pullet – A female chicken less than 1 year old
  • Layers – Mature female chickens kept for egg production. Also known as laying hens.
  • Straight Run– A term used to describe chicks for sale where the gender is unknown.

    What to Research about Raising a Baby Chick

  • Instead of just randomly picking chicks offered at the feed store, research about the different breeds. This will help you decide which ones are best suited for your current situation. 
  • Consider what type of chicken you are looking for – layers, broilers, or dual purpose. If you are looking for layers consider the amount of eggs laid per year, for broilers look at the rate of growth and for dual purpose chickens consider both. 
  • The Climate should be taken into consideration when making your decision. You want to make sure you choose a breed that can live in your climate area. We live in Michigan so we had to look at breeds that would do well in winter and would be less likely to get frost bite.
  • The last think I like to look at is the breeds temperament. At our farm we like to have docile, not easily scared chickens to have around our kids. 
TIP– When we made the decision to add more chickens to our farm the research we did led us to the Barred Rock Chicken BreedThese are docile, dual purpose chickens that can withstand the cold Michigan winters. I would recommend this breed of chicken to any beginner.
Raising Baby Chick Basics

Supplies Needed to Raise Baby Chicks

You have done research and have decided what chick is best for your home. Now it is time to get the things that your chick will need to grow.  Here is a list of basic, but much needed supplies.

Must Have Supplies:
  • Brooder – A temperature controlled, heated box used for raising newly hatched chicks.
  • Fine Wood Shavings
  • Feeder
  • Water Dish
  • Heat Lamp
  • Heat Lamp Bulb
  • Chick Starter (Non-medicated if possible)
Optional:
  • Meal Worms (We like to buy these treats for our chicks to help them adjust to us).

Everything on the supply list can usually be found at a local farm store or Tractor Supply.

Set-up Your Baby Chicks New Home

Now that you have your basic chick raising supplies it is time to use them to set up your chick brooder. 

  • Spread an inch of fine wood shavings in the bottom of the brooder.
  • Clear an area for the feeder and water dish. This is to help prevent wood shavings from building up in them. TIP- I sometimes will find something to raise them up just off the ground.( A small block of wood works well.)
  • Fill the feeder with chick starter and the water dish with water.
  • Put the bulb in the heat lamp. Secure the lamp to the edge of the brooder using the clip on the heat lamp.

Once you have your brooder set-up, you are finally ready to bring your new baby chicks home.

When you see cute chicks at the farm store and consider taking some home, Don’t!  Learn from my experience and follow the steps that are listed. Do some research, decide what breed is best for your situation. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies and your brooder is setup. When you have done all of these things you will be prepared and know what to do when your new chicks arrive.

Chick Growth

Tip to Go -Next Stage – As the chicks grow you will start to notice their cute baby fuzz begin to change. When their feathers start to appear the chicks usually start escaping from the brooder. At this point they are ready for a larger pen and can go outside. If your chicks are going to be an addition to existing flock now would be the time to start the introduction process

Raising Baby Chick Basics
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