Prepare a chicken brooder and a lamp.,
Use the correct flooring.,
Monitor the temperature carefully.,
Make sure they have food and water.,
Share play time with them.
The chicks’ first home is called a “brooder”. For one-time or once-in-a-while use, a cardboard box or plastic storage box works just fine. A cage suitable for a rabbit or guinea pig is another good option and is also easy to clean. Brooders can also be purchased in farm supply stores or you can build your own.
The brooder should be placed indoors or in a garage – somewhere that is free from drafts. Keeping the chicks warm is essential.
The size of the brooder is not overly important, as long as the chicks are not overcrowded and there is enough space for a feeder and water. The walls also need to be high enough to prevent them from hopping out once they get a bit bigger.
, The floor of the brooder should be covered in a layer of clean litter, made from pine shavings or something similar. Newspaper can also be used, but it is not the best option as it is slippery and the print ink can rub off on the chicks. This litter should be changed every couple of days and should never be allowed to remain damp.
Cleanliness is very important at this stage of the chicks’ development as baby chicks are prone to a number of diseases, most of which can be avoided with proper sanitation.
, A lamp should be placed in the brooder to keep the baby chicks warm. Use a light bulb with a reflector, which can be purchased in any hardware store. A regular 100-watt bulb will also work, though some people use an actual heat lamp. Place a thermometer in the brooder so you can monitor the temperature exactly. The temperature should be 90–100 °F (32–38 °C) for the first week or so, then can be reduced by 5 degrees each week thereafter, until the chicks have developed their feathers around 5-8 weeks old.
Alternatively, you can tell if the brooder is warm enough by how the chicks behave. If they are panting and/or huddling in corners farthest from the light, they are too hot. If they huddle together in a ball under the light, they are too cold.
You can adjust the temperature by altering the distance of the light or changing the wattage of the light bulb until it’s just right.
, Chicks start out eating special food called “crumbles”, available at farm supply or pet stores. It is specially formulated for their dietary needs and comes in both medicated and non-medicated versions. If you choose the non-medicated versions, be particularly aware of cleanliness. This feed is a complete food and no other food will be necessary. You will also need to ensure that your chicks always have fresh, clean water as it is imperative that the chicks stay hydrated. You should change the water once or twice a day to prevent it from becoming contaminated.
Special waterers are available at farm supply stores, they are inexpensive, light-weight and can’t be overturned by the chicks. Any shallow bowl will also work, but you need to watch that it remains upright and free of poop.
Even baby chicks will naturally scratch at their food, so a feeder that keeps all of the food in one place is helpful. Special feeders made of galvanized steel are available in farm supply stores, though any shallow bowl will do.
, Baby chicks are playful and curious creatures. It is important that you spend time with them, handling them frequently and talking to them until they learn to love and trust you. After a week or two, the baby chicks can be brought outside to explore for short periods of time, provided the weather is warm. Just watch out for predators – that includes the cat!
Although the baby chicks get all the sustenance they need from their feed, it can be fun to feed them treats. After the first week or two, you can give them a worm or a bug or two from your garden to play with and eat. However, greens are not recommended just yet, as they can cause diarrhea-like symptoms which can be dangerous to small chicks.You should also wipe the chicks’ butts, because they’re poop can become crusty and cause infection, use a napkin with lukewarm water on it.
Once the baby chicks are about a month old, you can place a low perch in the brooder. The chicks will jump on it and may even begin to sleep there. Just don’t put the perch directly under the light as it will be too hot.