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Baby Chick Care

All of our baby chicks are started on water that contains a vitamin and electrolyte supplement.  Adding colored marbles to the water trough for the first week reduces the risk of baby chicks drowning and can increase their interest in drinking.  We recommend feeding pullets (immature hens) a chick starter with 18% protein that is medicated to reduce coccidiosis, a stress-caused condition.  Broiler chicks should be fed a non-medicated starter/grower feed with 18-20% protein.  Grit is not required unless chicks are fed whole, rolled, or cracked grains.

A Few Things Your Baby Chicks Will Need:

  • Waterer
  • Feeder
  • Brood Lamp
  • Bedding
  • Starter Feed
  • Optional Vitamins/Electrolytes and Marbles

 

Baby chicks are tender and extremely sensitive to stress.  Keep them at about 95oF for the first week.  Watch your chicks; if they huddle together they’re too cold.  Too hot, and they’ll spread out to avoid the area directly under the brood lamp.  If they space themselves evenly, the temperature is right.  Using a red brood lamp bulb tends to minimize pecking.  Avoid sudden changes and limit their stress.  Decrease the temperature by about 5oF per week by gradually raising the brood lamp.  At about 5 to 6 weeks of age, the chicks should be feathered out sufficiently to withstand our typical spring climate.

 

Never start baby chicks on a slippery surface such as newspaper.  They’ll have difficulty getting their footing.  We use bedding made from recycled newspaper because it is absorbent, controls odor, and provides good footing.  Avoid overcrowding, as stronger chicks can accidentally smother the weaker ones.

 

If you’re raising laying hens, we recommend using medicated chick starter for the first few weeks, then switching to non-medicated grower feed until the chicks reach maturity.  Never give baby chicks calcium supplements such as oyster shell or laying formula, as this can cause bone development problems.  Once they start laying eggs, usually after about 20 weeks, you should switch to a laying formula.  Adding some cracked corn (and grit) to their diet at this time will brighten the yolks of their eggs.

 

Handle baby chicks gently and avoid sudden changes in their environment.  Stress is the most common reason for losing baby chicks.  If you plan to introduce your new chicks into an existing flock, be prepared for some pecking while they establish themselves.  Small chicks can seek shelter under a box or behind a fence if you provide an opening that is big enough for them to pass through but too small for the bigger chickens.

 

We offer only the healthiest chicks we can find to ensure you end up with a vital, productive flock for your efforts.  Remember that sexing baby chicks is an art and only about 90% accurate.  It is common to buy some pullets that turn out to be roosters.  That’s life.  If a chick you purchased from us as a pullet starts to crow when it matures, you may return it for a refund of the purchase price.

 

If you have questions, call us.

 

Always wash your hands after handling your chicks (or any animals) to avoid spreading disease.

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