I have gotten several questions about the requirements of raising baby chickens so I thought I would post what I use to successfully raise my new biddies.
- The Brooder–the brooder does not have to be something fancy. It can be as simple as a rubbermaid container to a cardboard box, or the wooden store bought kind. Just make sure you have enough room to raise them until they are ready to move out or you will have to get a larger container in the meantime.
- Bedding–I use pine straw for bedding as it is very abundant where I live but I have heard other recommendations of old newspapers, straw, hay, etc. One type of bedding to stay away from is cedar shavings. These are toxic to small animals.
- Heat–new biddies or chicks require heat to stay warm. Starting out they require temps of 95 degrees for the first week. Each week you can lower it by 5 degrees until it reaches the temperature outside.
- Food–Chick starter crumbles have the protein necessary for new baby chicks. I usually start mine out in a tray so they are able to get in it and reach it. There are other types of feeders as they grow that are available.
- Water–I utilize a water dispenser and have it next to the feed. I introduce the water to the chicks by dipping their beaks in it. Before long they find their way back. Because chicks are messy you will need to clean out and refill frequently. I have read that people put marbles in the water to ensure the chicks do not drown. I personally have not done this and never had a problem but if your waterer is large it may be necessary
Chicks are so adorable. They are entertaining but grow so fast. It won’t be any time until they are running with your flock.
This is my first year to have two hens brooding at once so we have two sets of baby chicks. In this picture you will see my RIR with her three baby chicks (on the left side) and also my black sex link hen and her one baby chick in the pet carrier. I do not like the pet carrier due to limited accessibility to the hen and her chick, so it is temporary accommodations until I can get a more open cage for her.
These babies are being raised with their mother so it is different than raising them in a brooder. They still need food and water but the mother takes care of the temperature fluctuations by keeping them under her wing when necessary. If you live in an area where it gets cold at night, you may want to give an additional heat source to help her maintain the temperatures. Being from Florida this is not necessary for me.
If you are new or just starting raising your own flock of chickens, these are some of the essentials for raising baby chickens.