I’ve had backyard chickens now for about 4 years, and I still love having chickens. There are a lot of different breeds, but the needs of chicks are the same.
When you bring your chicks home, you need to provide a safe, clean dry place for them to live. Here is a list of what you need when bringing home baby chicks:
Box – Whether it is a wood box made for chickens, or an empty plastic bin, you need a place large enough for food, water and their heat lamp. Chicks will stay in this box until they are about 8 weeks old. Backyard chickens begin laying eggs at about 4 months.
Food – Most farm stores will sell chick feed with extra nutrients and vitamins for your growing brood. They sell feeders as well. I prefer the feeders that the chicks cannot tip over, and that they can’t poop in. Nothing ruins dinner like poop.
Water – There is a fantastic new invention for water that help keep water clean and fresh; a nipple waterer. Click the link below for more info. Like above, nothing ruins water like poop. I hate cleaning poopy water and you have to do it a lot throughout the day if your chicks can turn their bottoms over the water. Instead of buying an on the ground waterer, buy a nipple water feeder. These are tiny typically red and silver plastic pieces that you can screw into the bottom of a bucket, or the bottom of an unused water bottle. They keep water clean and fresh all day. Change the water each night so chicks have access to sparkly, fresh water. Here is a link to show you How To Make Your Own Water Bucket. (I use these in the backyard chicken coop too when the chickens are ready to go outside).
Shavings – Pine shavings spread across the bottom of the box will make it easier to clean and keep the chicks clean, dry, and warm. I also use these same shavings in the backyard chicken coop when the chickens are ready to go outside.
Heat lamp – A red heat lamp will let the chicks stay warm. Keeping warm without mama is a challenge for these tiny birds. Buy more than one so they can cuddle, and have a good lamp. Keep it on 24/7. Watch the chicks, if they still huddle together they are too cold. If they lay on the shavings with wings out, they may be too hot. Move the lamp either closer or further away until you see the chicks moving freely around the box. Never use the heat lamp in the backyard chicken coop. It’s a great tool when they are little, but not necessary when they are big.
Love – If you don’t want angry backyard chickens, love your chicks. My kids have chick chores that include, feed, water, and hold. Each chick gets held a lot when their little so they won’t peck the kids when they’re big. Our grown chickens will follow the kids around the yard, and let the kids come in the coop without pecking.
Those are the basic needs for the chicks. Keep them fed, watered, and warm and you’ll be on your way to having a wonderful experience with your backyard chickens.