Use these care tips for baby chicks from Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
As with any baby, chicks require the proper nurturing and care to grow up healthy and strong. With the help of Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can learn about what your backyard chicks will need for food, water and shelter. Whether you’re raising baby chicks for egg-laying, FFA or 4H, here are some simple tips for getting started.
Use Chick Starter for the First 8 Weeks
Feed your chicks chick starter/grower for the first 8 weeks. Sprinkle feed on a piece of cardboard in the area where the chicks will be. This way the chicks find the feed more easily from the start. Continue this routine for a few days. Then put the feed in troughs low enough so the chicks can see and reach the feed easily. Use a 2-foot feeder for every 50 chicks.
For the first ten weeks, each chick will eat about one pound of food per week. Chicks should stay on a full feed ration of chick starter/grower until they are 4 1/2 – 5 months of age. Read through our article, “Selecting the Right Chicken Feed,” to learn more about feeding your baby chicks.
Use a Chick Waterer
Have a gallon chick waterer for each 50 chicks. Do not medicate first water. For the first 2 days, add 3 tablespoons of table sugar to each quart of lukewarm water for extra energy. Use plain water after that. Dip the beak of the chick in the water before you turn it loose. Your chicks will be thirsty when you get them. A taste of water right away helps them to find more water sooner.
Use a Warming Light
Use a brooder lamp with a 250-watt infrared heat lamp to keep the birds warm and comfortable. Hang the light no closer than 18”-24” from the floor. If it’s too warm, raise the light higher. The temperature should be 90-95 degrees for the first week. The temperature may need to be slightly higher for Bantams and other small-bodied birds. A thermometer will help to ensure that you have the proper comfort level for the birds.
Reduce the temperature 5 degrees per week until you reach 70 degrees. They shouldn’t need much heat after that. Start with 1 bulb per 50 chicks in cold weather. Then watch how the birds act. The birds will need a small light at night to keep them from piling up even after they don’t need it for warmth. Be sure to watch the Cornish Cross as they grow faster than other birds and will over heat more quickly.
Give the Baby Chicks Enough Space
Try to provide 1/2 square foot per chick at the start. For starting 50 chicks, use a draft shield. This is a cardboard circle about 12 inches high around the chicks. This helps cut down drafts on the floor. Be sure the circle is large enough to allow the chick to get away from the heat if it wants to. Shavings make a good litter to place to the bottom of the space. Layer the litter at least 1-2 inches thick or 3-5 inches over concrete floors.
At Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you’ll find all the poultry equipment and poultry housing you need to raise your own backyard chickens. You can even buy baby chicks right at your local store during Chick Days. For more tips on raising chickens, visit our Hobby Farming blog.