Are you interested in raising baby chicks? Check out this guide for everything you need to know when learning how to raise chicks.
Raising Chicks: Bringing Chicks Home
A common concern when learning how to raise chicks is how to transport them home. As long as you live within an hour of the store where the chicks are coming from, there is no need to worry about giving them a heat source during travel.
If you are going to be traveling for long periods of time, I recommend bringing a heating pad with you or setting them on the floor under the heater vent. Keeping them warm is important over long periods of time.
Raising Chicks: Brooder Setup
When you arrive home with your chicks, you’ll need to have a place ready for them to live. This is often called a brooder. That simply means it’s a small, heated area for the chickens to live until they grow out their feathers.
Once chicks grow out their feathers, they are able to regulate their own body temperature and won’t need a heat source anymore.
Check out the recommended products section for suggestions on heat sources. If you don’t have too many chicks, you can make an easy and inexpensive DIY Chick Brooder out of a large plastic tote (tutorial here!).
Raising Chicks: Feed
When raising chicks, it’s important to feed them the correct kind of food. Chicks need a specifically formulated feed based on their growth requirements.
This kind of feed is called Chick Starter (it usually comes in a crumble) and is readily available at your local feed store.
This kind of feed can be medicated or unmedicated. The medicated feed helps protect the chicks against coccidiosis, which is a naturally occurring soil bacteria but can be harmful to chicks in large exposures.
I always opt to feed a medicated chick starter. That way I know that I’ve done everything in my power to set my chicks up for a healthy start in life.
Raising Chicks: Moving to the Coop
Once your chicks are all feathered and adn ready to move into the big coop, the transition can be tricky if you already have chickens.
If you don’t already have chickens, simply move them to the coop and make sure they sleep on the roosts – not in the nesting boxes. You may have to move them onto the roosts each night for about a week until they get the hang of roosting at night.
If you already have chickens, I recommend moving them into the coop with a space they can escape too if necessary. Often the establishment of the pecking order is a violent ordeal and chicks will benefit from being fed and watered in a separate area.
I also like to keep the chicks enclosed in their own area for a few days before letting them actually mix with the rest of the flock. This keeps everyone safe while still allowing the chickens to get to know each other.