How to Raise Baby Chicks

Have you ever been to a farm supply store and saw those cute, fluffy little baby chicks, and wanted to buy some? Maybe you even DID buy some? If so, you're going to need to know how to safely and properly raise them, because they won't stay that small and calm forever! In this article, I am going to discuss how to raise baby chicks, week by week. Let's get to it!


First, BEFORE you get any chicks, you are going to need to set up a brooder box. A brooder box is where your babies will live for the first few weeks of their life. Below, I am going to tell you how to set up a basic brooder box.


HOW TO MAKE A BASIC BROODER BOX FOR FRESHLY HATCHED TO 3 WEEK OLD CHICKS:


You will need:

  1. A plastic or wooden bin that gives each chick enough room to move around comfortably

  2. Pine flakes, not too fine

  3. A heat lamp and red heat bulb

  4. A chick feeder

  5. A chick waterer, MAKE SURE IT IS NOT DEEP ENOUGH FOR THEM TO DROWN

  6. Something to test temperature

  7. Something to mount the heat lamp on


Step 1:


Clean out the plastic or wooden bin thoroughly and place it in a room-temperature area, such as a bathroom or climate-controlled basement. You can also add holes in the sides of the bin to make sure they can breathe well (although as long as you keep the temperature right, and have plenty of room for the chicks to breathe, these are not 100% necessary.)


Step 2:


Cover the inside bottom of the bin with about 1 inch of pine flakes. These flakes should not be too fine, because if they are, then the chicks could inhale pine dust.


Step 3:


Mount the heat lamp above the bin, and adjust it as needed to make the temperature 95-100 degrees. Note: the temperature will be changed as the chicks grow older.


Step 4:


Add the chicks, feeder, and WARM water. The water MUST be warm, because if the chicks drink cold water while trying to warm up, then they will go into shock and die.


Once you have set up the brooder box and added the chicks, you're good to go! But you still don't know what KIND of food to get, or what breed of chicken is best for you! So, I'm going to go over all of those topics next.


BEST FOOD FOR BABY CHICKS



There are many different kinds of food that you can buy for baby chicks. Maybe you want the food to be medicated, or maybe you want it to be more natural. Either way, you need to find the best food that you can for your chicks. I personally recommend Purina Start & Grow medicated chick food, but if you are looking for something without medication, then I recommend the non-medicated version (although I also recommend getting medicated food, as it helps prevent coccidiosis.)


BEST BREED OF CHICKEN FOR YOU



There are HUNDREDS of chicken breeds to choose from, and you may be overwhelmed, so I have made top 5 lists for different reasons that you may choose a chicken breed, such as best egg layers or best meat birds:


Best Chicken Breeds and Crosses For High Egg Production:

  1. Red Sex-Link

  2. White Leghorn

  3. Rhode Island Red

  4. Ameraucana

  5. New Hampshire Red

Best Chicken Breeds and Crosses For Dual Purpose Eggs/Meat:

  1. Black Sex-Link

  2. Rhode Island Red

  3. Orpington

  4. Australorp

  5. Barred Rock

Best Chicken Breeds and Crosses For Meat:

  1. Cornish Cross

  2. Jersey Giant

  3. Orpington

  4. Barred Rock

  5. Australorp

Calmest and Most Friendly Chicken Breeds and Crosses:

  1. Orpington

  2. Wyandotte

  3. Easter Egger

  4. Red Sex-Link

  5. Polish

Hardiest Chicken Breeds and Crosses:

  1. Columbian Rock Cross

  2. Rhode Island Red

  3. New Hampshire Red

  4. Barred Rock

  5. Easter Egger

Once you choose 1 or even a few chicken breeds to buy, you have to know where to get them from!


WHERE TO BUY BABY CHICKS



I personally recommend getting chicks from your local feed store, as it is the cheapest and easiest option for most people. If you don't have a local feed store near you, or if you do but they don't have the breed you want, then you should probably buy from a hatchery. You can either pick up chicks directly from a hatchery or you can have the chicks shipped safely to you. Here is a list of 5 of the most popular hatcheries in the United States:


  1. Meyer Hatchery

  2. Murray McMurray Hatchery

  3. Cackle Hatchery

  4. Ideal Poultry

  5. Hoover's Hatchery

Once you have your chicks, and you have set up your brooder, it is finally time to start really raising chickens. Next, I will teach you how to raise the chicks, week by week.


THE FIRST FEW DAYS


The first few days of raising baby chicks is going to be exciting, but be prepared for some hard work! You must keep the temperature of the brooder at 95-100 degrees for the first 4 or so days. The chicks also will be very prone to getting coccidiosis, so make sure to keep some liquid or powder Corid on hand in case they get sick.


WEEK 1


After the first 4 or so days, you need to lower the brooder temperature five degrees each week (so the brooder temperature should be 95-90 degrees for the first week, 90-85 degrees for the second, 85-80 degrees for the third, and so on.) The chicks will still need to be watched carefully to make sure they don't have coccidiosis. Also, they will begin to grow wing feathers.

WEEK 2


In the second week, the chicks will keep growing their wing feathers. Until the 4th week or so, they are still prone to coccidiosis, but they are beginning to get stronger immune systems.


WEEK 3


In the 3rd week, they have almost gotten strong enough immune systems to pretty much fight off coccidiosis, and their wing feathers have fully grown in. They also can be moved to a larger brooder, if needed. Note: Adult chickens can still get coccidiosis, but after the 4th week, it becomes very unlikely.


WEEK 4


4 week old chickens are growing feathers all over. Once the chicks are fully feathered (at around 6-8 weeks of age), they can be moved outside to their coop.


WEEK 5


5 week old chickens are just starting to show differences in the males and females, in things such as their combs, wattles, and saddle feathers. They also do not need much, if any heat.


WEEK 6


At 6 weeks old, most chickens can be moved outside to a permanent coop (unless they are not fully feathered). Also, the males and females should act quite a bit different. The males, called cockerels, will have large combs, large wattles, the beginnings of saddle feathers, and will act more aggressive. The females, called pullets, will have small combs, wattles, no pointy saddle feathers, and will act more calm.

WEEK 7


At 7 weeks old, extra cockerels should be separated, otherwise the will most likely fight each other over the pullets.


WEEK 8


At week 8, all chickens should be moved outside. The cockerels and pullets will look very different, and like I said before, the cockerels need to be separated, preferably each with a flock of around 10 pullets.


WEEK 9


At week nine, the chickens will continue to rapidly grow. Cockerels will begin to look more like roosters.


WEEK 10


All chickens will continue to rapidly grow.


WEEK 11


(Same as week 10)

WEEK 12


(Same as week 11)


WEEK 13


(Same as week 12)


WEEK 14


(Same as week 13)


WEEK 15


(Same as week 14)


WEEK 16


At week 16, the cockerels are now considered roosters, and the pullets are now considered hens. Also, hens will have redder combs and wattles, and may even begin laying eggs. They are finally considered adult chickens!


WEEK 17


More hens will start laying eggs.


WEEK 18


At week 18, all hens should be laying eggs, and roosters should be crowing. Congratulations, you raised chickens from babies, all the way to adults!



I hope this article helps you, have fun raising chicks to chickens!


PHOTO CREDITS:


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