How to raise baby chickens
Baby chicks are adorable, but can be a hassle to take care of if you don’t know what to do. Sometimes, just finding chicks in your area can be a challenge! I’ll walk you through how and when to feed your chicks, where to get them, what kind of house/bedding they will need, and more.
Your first challenge if finding the chicks! There are a lot of websites that will send you chickens. Yeah, you read that right; they will MAIL YOU BABY CHICKS! Unless you already have a big setup for you chickens, and you know what you’re doing, you will want to buy from a store; in person. The reason being, there is a minimum amount of chicks you are required to buy if you choose to buy from a website; usually 25-50. That’s a lot if you are just starting out. Most towns have a ‘Feed Store’. This is your best bet, because they specialize in livestock supplies. And, it’s pretty smart if you think about it. “if we sell chickens, they will need to come back to buy our chicken food.” Genius! There are many benefits that come with buying from the store in person. For starters, you can pick which one you want, what color, make sure they aren’t sick, what kind of personality it has, etc. Another benefit is that you can choose how many chicks you want! I WOULD NOT suggest buying only one chicken. Not only will it get extremely lonely, but it will also get much colder. Chicks need body heat to survive, so it’s best to get 5-8 chicks to start off with.
While you’re at the store, don’t forget to get your new little guys some food and basic supplies. You will need chick food, a food dispenser, and a water dispenser. Next, and probably the most important to your chicks survival, a red heat light. Heat for the chicks not to freeze to death, red to ward off predators; most predators will be scared off by the red light. Also, if you don’t have materials to build a coupe, purchase these at this time as well. (But, the coupe should be complete before you take them home!) Although, a big box with some bedding in the bottom will do until you can build your coupe.
The ride home with your baby chicks can be hazardous, so it’s best to take somebody with you to hold the container or whatever you are transporting your chicks home in. If you let the box roll around or get jerked by bumps in the road, your chicks could get seriously hurt; broken legs, or worse, dead chicks. Make sure to toss some bedding in the bottom of the box, so that it won’t be as slippery for your chicks. This will help ensure they won’t be slipping and sliding all around the place.
Next, after you get your baby chicks home, if you haven’t already, choose where you want them at. When they are still small, it might be best to keep them in a spare bedroom, a garage, or a shed that is ‘varmint proof.’ After you have a spot chosen for your chicks, set up their food and water, and DON’T FORGET your red light.
The amount of space your coupe/box needs is dependent on how many chicks you decided to get. If you only got 5, a 24 inch by 24 inch box will do for a few weeks. But, a coupe will be necessary very soon.
Always keep plenty of water for the chicks; you will be surprised at how much they drink! It is best to keep food on the ground at all times. Chickens like to ‘graze’ all day, so they do eat a lot. Chickens can be a joy, but also a lot of work. Make sure you can handle it before taking on the responsibility of raising chicks.
I wish you luck with your chicks!