If this is your first time raising baby chicks, it may seem like a pretty scary thing to do. But I promise you that it really isn’t that difficult if you know what to do. Not only is this such an awesome, rewarding experience, but you will want to do it again and again!
Whether it’s your first time hatching or have done it many times, there is always something new to learn with each experience. With many hatches under my belt, I have had good experiences and bad, but most of all I have learned how to raise healthy baby chicks.
Brooder Supplies Needed to Raise Baby Chicks Weeks 1-6
- Heat Lamp
- Food Containers
- Chick Starter Crumbles
What is a Brooder?
A brooder is a safe and warm place that you will keep your baby chicks. It takes the place of a mama hen. Chicks usually stay in a brooder for their first 6 weeks of life or until they are fully feathered.
How Big Should My Chicks Brooder Be?
“A brooder box should give enough room for about 1/2 square foot per chick from 1-4 weeks old. When they get a little bigger, 4-8 weeks, you should increase the space to 1 square foot per chick.”10 Simple Brooder Box Supplies You Need for Thriving Chicks
How Long Do Baby Chicks Need to be Under a Heat Lamp?
If a chick does not have a mama to keep it warm, it needs to have a heat lamp to provide the heat for it. Baby chicks need to have a heat lamp until they are 6 weeks old or until they are fully feathered. Depending upon the outside temperatures, chicks may be ok without a heat lamp sooner.
What Temperature Should Baby Chicks be Kept at?
Just hatched baby chicks need to be kept at a temperature of 95 degrees. As each week passes, they are gradually growing in more and more feathers to keep them warm. Each week, you should decrease the temperature by 5 degrees, until they are fully feathered and can keep themselves warm.
What are the Best Chick Feeders and Waterers for Baby Chicks?
I have used all of these feeders and waterers and you can get them for a good price at Amazon. When the baby chicks are less than 3 weeks old, I add marbles to their water. Young chicks can easily drown in their drinking water!
I start my chicks off with the small, round feed and waterers and at about 3 weeks I switch over to the long flip top feeders. If you don’t have very many chicks, (less than 6) you can stick with the small round one’s for the full 6 weeks.
What Bedding Should I Use in a Brooder?
The best bedding for baby chicks is by far pine shavings. It doesn’t smell, absorbs chick poop, is easy to clean. Avoid using newspapers because when it gets wet, it smells, chicks slip and slide all around and it doesn’t absorb their chick poop.
What Can I Feed Baby Chicks?
Chicks need to be fed either regular chick crumbles or medicated chick crumbles. I usually start my chicks off on 2 bags of medicated chick crumbles before switching them over to the non medicated.
Medicated Chick Starter contains Amprolium which helps to prevent Coccidiosis. Coccidiosis is a common protozoal gastrointestinal (GI) disease. Chicks that get this will have mucus or blood in their diarrhea, they become listless, dehydrated and anemic due to fluid loss and eventually can die.
I also like to give dried oatmeal to baby chicks. They will eat it up nicely if you blend it up a little before serving it. I find that it helps prevent them from developing “pasty butt,” when their poop is watery and sticks to their butt, blocking them from being able to poop again.
What Kind of Perches Should I Use for Baby Chicks?
Even chicks as young as a couple days old will jump up on a perch and rest. They like to get up as high as they can, even as young chicks. When they are really little, you can use either make them a perch out of a 1″ x 2″ little piece of wood or check out Amazon. They have a lot of really nice one’s there at reasonable prices.
How to Regulate Temperature With Baby Chicks
It is vital to regulate the temperature in the chick brooder until the chicks are fully feathered, which is around 6 weeks of age. This can be done with the use of a heat lamp.
A heat lamp should be securely fastened at least 18″ above the chick bedding. A 125 watt bulb should be sufficient. For a large amount of chicks you may have to hang two 125 watt bulbs. Don’t place the water directly over the chicks food or water, but off to the side.
The chicks are too cold if they are directly under the heat lamp all huddled together. A cold chick will huddle with others and shiver.
The chicks are too hot if they are all moved far away from the heat source. A hot chick will open their mouth and pant.
You know that the your are providing the appropriate amount of heat if the chicks are scattered around the the heat source, not panting and not huddled together.
|CHICK IS TOO HOT||CHICK IS TOO COLD||CHICK IS JUST RIGHT|
|CHICKS MOUTH OPEN, PANTING||SHIVERING||EATING AND DRINKING|
|NONE OF THE CHICKS ARE UNDER THE HEAT SOURCE||ALL THE CHICKS ARE HUDDLED RIGHT IN THE CENTER OF THE HEAT SOURCE||CHICKS SCATTERED AROUND THE HEAT SOURCE|
|QUIET||LOUD CHIRPING||WALKS AROUND|
|HEAD DROOPED||“PUFFED UP”||CURIOUS ABOUT SURROUNDINGS|
1st Week: How to Raise Healthy Baby Chicks
Chicks should be kept at a temperature of 95 degrees for the first week of their life. The first week of a chicks life they are just a little fluff balls and are going to begin growing in their wing and tail feathers.
The first couple days, if you look at the top of their beak, you can see a little “egg tooth.” This is what they use to peck out of their shell when they hatch.
When first placing your chicks in the brooder, gently dip their beaks into the water and set them next to it. This will show them that “this is where your water is!”
Chicks sleep quite a bit the first few days. They are adorable to watch!! Don’t be alarmed if the do not eat much the first few days. Prior to hatching, they absorbed the yolk which gives them enough energy to survive their first 3 days! This is why it is ok to ship newly hatched chicks in the mail.
It’s a good idea to add some electrolytes to your chicks water. This will give them a good jump start and prevent them from becoming dehydrated.
2nd Week: How to Raise Healthy Baby Chicks
Chicks should be kept at a temperature of 90 degrees for the second week of their life. By the second week you will see more feather growth on the wings and tail.
By now, the chicks are a lot more active, running all around the brooder! It’s ok to hold them, in fact you should. Especially if you want them to get used to you. Just make sure that they are kept warm and not taken away from their food and water too long.
3rd Week: How to Raise Healthy Baby Chicks
Chicks should be kept at a temperature of 85 degrees for the third week of their life. You will notice that the chicks have grown a lot since you first got them! Wings, tail and back feathers are filling in. By 3 weeks they are beginning to fly a little across their cage. They can easily get out of their cage if it isn’t covered. Make sure that you have a secure top on your cage, especially if you have a cat or dog.
If you notice that you have an adventurous chick that likes to perch up on top of your feeders and waterers, you can place a funnel upside down on top of it. It works great to deter them from perching here and pooping into their food and water.
You will also notice by now that you are constantly having to change and clean their food and water because they kick up pine shavings and walk in their food and water.
Try placing their food and water up a little higher at this time, to decrease the amount of pine shavings getting into them.
4th Week: How to Raise Healthy Baby Chicks
Chicks should be kept at a temperature of 80 degrees for the fourth week of their life. By the fourth week your chick will have almost all of its, feathers. Still some bald spots though. If it is warm enough outdoors, this is a good time to introduce them to a nice grassy area to explore a little. Just make sure you keep a close eye on them and watch for signs of cold. If they shiver or chirp really loud, they are probably too cold.
5th Week: How to Raise Healthy Baby Chicks
Chicks should be kept at a temperature of 75 degrees for the fifth week of their life. By five weeks your chicks are getting quite large and are almost completely feathered now. By week 5, chicks require 1 square foot of brooder space. If your brooder doesn’t provide this, you will need to get a larger enclosure.
You will notice that the chicks are a lot messier and their poop is beginning to smell a lot more. If they are still in your house, this might be a good time to move them out into a shed or your garage. This is a good transition for them. It will not be long before they will be fully feathered and ok to survive the night without a heat lamp.
6th Week: How to Raise Healthy Baby Chicks
Chicks should be kept at a temperature of 70 degrees for the sixth week of their life. Can you believe a whole 6 weeks has gone by since your chicks hatched? They are growing up!
Many chicks are fully feathered by this time. If your chicks are fully feathered, it is ok to bring them out to their big girl coop.
Keep a close eye on the chicks when you first transition them to their outdoor coop. If they seem fine, it’s time to wash out and put the brooder away.
Conclusion – 6 Weeks of Raising Healthy Baby Chicks
Raising healthy baby chicks is such a rewarding experience, especially if you know you are providing what is best for them. Chicks develop and change so much in their first 6 weeks of life. Having a 6 week guide that shows you how to raise healthy baby chicks makes the process go a lot smoother. I learn something new each time I raise chicks. What types of things have you found useful when you raised your chicks?