Baby chicks are not just miniature adult chickens. They have special needs.
Chicks need water and a place to dust dust bathe just like grown chickens, but here are three things your chicks need that your biggies don’t.
1. Starter Crumbles
Babies of all species have different nutritional needs than adults, including chickens.
There are feeds designed especially for chicks. They are called starter crumbles (or starter grower).
Crumbles are just that, little giblets of dry food. But starter crumbles are not just crushed layer pellets (what you feed adults). Crumbles have the right mix of protein and other nutrients to help your babies grow.
Keep your chicks on crumbles for at least three months, usually about four.
We like the Nutrena brand.
PS – Give your babies ONLY their starter crumbles. No kitchen scraps until they are adults.
See the little crumbly food? That’s chick starter.
2. Heat Lamp
Especially when the nights are cool. Baby chicks, if left with their mother, stay cuddled in her down feathers most of the time.
They want to stifle. Ideally, they want to be about 95 degrees all the time.
Your babies need heat, so put a heat lamp in their nursery. A cheap 250 red bulb will do.
Heat lamp tip – If your chicks constantly huddle under the heat lamp, they are too cold. Get the temperature up. If they spread out, scratching and pecking naturally, they are just right.
If they huddle in a corner away from the heat lamp, they are too hot. Raise the lamp some to cool it down.
Give them the lamp until about three weeks old or the nights warm up.
You cannot throw your chicks into general population too soon. The older chickens will pick on the babies and can injure them.
Your chicks need their own space for the first few months, until they are big enough to fend for themselves. However, I recommend that you put your nursery close to where the older birds are so they can all hear each other and acclimate.
We usually transition ours into the larger flock between three and four months old.
Give ’em a Good Start
Chickens are super easy to raise. Babies have just a few more considerations. They are not hard to do but they are important.
If you have trouble, comment on this post of message me through my Facebook page.
Here are a few more articles I wrote about raising chicks:
- 4 Solid Reasons to Buy Chicks Instead of Hatching Them
- Got Spring Chickens? Here’s How to Care For Them
- Chicken Pickin’: How to Choose the Breed For You