Do you know what you need to keep baby chicks? These 7 things will keep your chicks healthy and safe.
So, you’re thinking about getting chicks, but don’t know where to start? I want to share with you the top 7 things you need before you bring home chicks. I started with chickens three years ago, and the following items are a MUST if you want to keep your chicks healthy and safe.
Before we dig in, I want to congratulate your choice of keeping chickens. Chicks can be a lot of fun, and when they grow into hens, they offer backyard companionship and beautiful eggs. Just like a baby nursery, chicks need a special set-up for their infantile needs.
However, they do require some daily upkeep to ensure they are warm, fed, and have a fresh water source. One should not just leap into chicken keeping without considering that they will require your time, attention, and at times may need special care for injury and sickness. They may not need walking or daily attention like a dog, but they do come with their unique set of requirements and needs. That said, there are essential things you need before you bring home chicks.
Here are the Top 7 Things You Need Before You Bring Your Chicks Home
1.) A Chick Brooder
A brooder is a term used for a heated container that is used to raise chicks, with the ability to adjust the temperature. Baby chicks need to be kept at a toasty 95 degrees their first week, and for each week they age, reduced by 5 degrees. That said, the ability to adjust the temperature is required. The container can be a number of things. I use an extra large clear storage bin without the cover, and have also used a kiddie pool with a chicken wire surround. Some people use small puppy crates. Of course, you can also buy brooder kits made especially for chicks, but there are cheaper options like I just suggested.
2.) Chick Feeder
Chicks will need a small feeder for their brooder. One should refrain from using a small dish, because the chicks will inevitably kick it over. A feeder ensures the feed is in ample supply and won’t knock over. This is one of the most important things you need before you bring home chicks, just because it is their primary source of food.
3.) Chick Waterer
Chicks will need a small waterer in their brooder. Just like with feed, it is important to use a waterer and not a dish or bowl. For one, your chicks will drown in a bowl of water, and two, they’ll knock it over as well. Again, this is another extremely important thing you need before you bring home chicks, especially if you plan to leave them alone for any period of time. I get nervous leaving chicks alone for any length of time, but feel better knowing that they have the right equipment to keep them safe, hydrated, and fed. You will, too,
A thermometer is necessary when raising chicks in order to gauge the heat in the brooder. It’s especially critical to keep the tiny chicks from getting too cold by monitoring the heat. Once they are older and do not require as much heat, it is necessary to monitor so they don’t get overheated. Chicks will start panting just like our canine companions, which can lead to chicken heat stroke. Not good!
5.) Chick Heater
Speaking of heat, your chicks will need a source of heat. Many people use chick brooder heaters, which are very reliable and easy to use. The thing I like about chick brooder heaters are that they are suspended on four legs which enables it to free stand over your brooder. Other chicken keepers use heat lamps. Heat lamps will be cheaper and will work well, but should be used with extreme caution. Heat lamps also require a clamp and somewhere to clamp the heat lamp onto, and can create a fire hazard if knocked down. Let’s just put it this way, although heat lamps are used a lot in chicken keeping, they are pretty much a four-letter word in the chicken world. They are best to avoid, but if you do use them safely, can be a cheaper alternative.
6.) Chick Starter Feed
Very young chicks require a different type of food from a young hen or a full-grown hen. The feed consists of small granules enriched with vitamins and protein which is easy and safe for the chick to eat. The chicks need the extra vitamins, minerals, and protein to grow healthy and strong, and eventually can be switched to a grower feed after three weeks.
An important thing to note is that Chick Starter Feed comes in medicated and non-medicated. The medicated feed has added Amprolium, which helps prevent Coccidiosis, which is a disease that can kill your chicks. However, Amprolium also comes with it’s other side effects, such as inhibiting the absorption of vitamin B1 by a small percentage. If you purchased your chicks from a reputable source, there is a likelihood that they have already been inoculated for this disease. Generally speaking, the medicated feed is usually overkill for chicks who have already been inoculated, but that choice is ultimately up to you.
7.) Newspaper and Poultry Bedding
Chicks will require a form of bedding in their brooder. For the first two weeks, newspaper is best to use as it’s the safest option for your tiny chicks. Other bedding, such as wood shavings, should not be used because the chicks might eat it. The newspaper should be changed daily to keep a clean brooder. After two weeks, you can introduce poultry bedding (wood shavings), which you’ll find has to be changed less as it absorbs chick waste and excess water nicely.
Getting Ready to Bring Chicks Home
Now that you are aware of the basics, you should be prepared to bring your baby chicks home. The adventure is just beginning! Enjoy your baby chicks while they last, they grow fast, and before you know it, you’ll have egg-laying hens.
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