I was really trying to avoid Tractor Supply, but I needed basil seeds as my seeds were not germinating as planned. Tractor Supply started getting chicks in several weeks ago, and I managed to not peek, to plug my ears and get in and get out during my previous visits.
Every year I say to myself “no more chicks”. Every year my defenses fail. Today, I came home with two mystic marans and two americanas. I hurriedly got them home and pieced together their brooding area. Heat lamp-check, thermometer-check, feeder and waterer-check, big galvanized water tub-check. And there we were, happy as pigs in shit (or chicks in a warm tub).
So some things you need to know about raising chicks:
1. You need to keep your chicks warm. For the first week of their lives, chicks should be kept in a brooding area that is 95 degrees, with space to get out of the heat if they get too warm. A heat lamp does this nicely and easily attainable at the local box store. In order to ensure you have the temperature just right for the Goldilock chicks you also need to have a thermometer. The brooding area should have a cooler area and a warmer area. If the chicks are peeping all the time, they are too cold. If they are panting, they are too hot. The temperature can be decreased as the chicks get older, simulating more time away from their momma hen. Moving the heat lamp farther away each week accomplishes this temperature reduction. The follow schedule is what is recommended and what I adhere to. By week 6, they are ready to go outside —depending on your climate.
- Week 1: 95 degrees Fahrenheit
- Week 2: 90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Week 3: 85 degrees Fahrenheit
- Week 4: 80 degrees Fahrenheit
- Week 5: 75 degrees Fahrenheit
- Week 6: 70 degrees Fahrenheit
You can find the items to use for keeping you chicks warm and cozy here: Chick heating set up. This blog may contain links to affiliate websites, and I may receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you on the affiliate website using such links.
2. Like all living creatures chicks need clean drinking water. They also need to have that water in a container that they cannot drown in. Farm stores sell these drinking trays and all that is needed is a mason jar that screws in and is gravity fed. Day old chicks need some encouragement to drink during the first hour in their new digs. You must dip their beaks in the water when you get them home to teach them not only how to drink but also where the water is found. Normally the mother hen would teach them to drink, but you are their momma now.
3. Chicks need a specialized feed. They have tiny little beaks. So they need tiny little chick starter crumbles. Chick starter has 18% protein, along with vitamins and minerals that supports healthy chick growth. A chick’s natural instinct is to peck so just putting some on the floor near the feeder will show them where to fill their bellies.
4. The floor of their brooding area needs to NOT be slick. No newspaper, as this can cause a condition called splay leg. During the first couple of days I use an old towel which is nice and grippy and soft. After the first days, I use puppy pads with some covered with embossed paper towels.
As the chicks get older and bigger, they move through a couple of cages that give them more space; an enclosed dog kennel and then a large dog cage and finally outside to a sectioned off area in the fenced coop area with their own coop.
Although it is terribly tempting to just cuddle them the first couple of days because they are sooooo cute, try to restrain so they can get acclimated and settle in. Cooing and talking to them is highly encouraged though to help socialize them.
Happy chick days!