Carrying for Baby Chicks

Brooder - Your chick's first home is called a brooder.  Think of it as a substitute for their mom (Broody Hen).  A broody hen provides warmth, food and water.  If you are only going to have chicks once, a large cardboard box will do.  If you plan to raise chicks often, you can purchase a large rubber tote from your local Wal-Mart.  The bottom should be covered with clean litter (pine shavings or similar).  You can use paper towels, when they are real young, but they should be changed daily.  Shavings should be changed every few days.  Cleanliness is very important because chicks are prone to several diseases.  The size of the brooder will vary based on how many chicks you will have.  They need to be able to move around and lay down to sleep.  Also allow room for the waterer and feeder inside the brooder.

Water - Clean fresh drinking water must be available at all times.  Visit your local farm store or perhaps hardware store and purchase a waterer.  Make sure you use a waterer for chicks, a bowl of water will not work as the chicks will get in it, get wet, cold and die or they may drown.  Change their water daily even if they don't consume all of it.

Feed and Feeders - Visit your local farm store or perhaps a hardware store and purchase chick feeder and feed.  You need to purchase chick feed.  It comes in two varieties Medicated and Non-Mediated.  I recommend medicated.  If you do not feed medicated, you run the risk that Coccidiosis will infect and wipe out as much as 90% of your chicks. If you choose Non-Medicated, make sure your brooder is always clean.  The feed is complete, so no need to supplement.  It is what they need to grow and be healthy.

Heat - If you are keeping them inside, you can use a regular 100 watt light bulb with a reflector, available in any Hardware store.  If you are keeping them outside, you will most likely want to use a real heat bulb (250 Watts) and will need a special heat bulb holder.  The temperature in your brooder should be 90-100 degrees for the first week, then it can be 5 degrees less each week, until they are about 8 weeks old.  If they are panting and standing the farthest point from the heat, they are too hot.  If they are huddled under the light, they are too cold.  You can regulate by raising or lowering the lamp or changing the wattage of the light bulb.