How to raise baby chicks? This question may arise if you raise chickens by buying chicks from a hatchery or if the hen has left her chicks after hatching.
Raising young chickens is difficult if you don’t know how to do it. This guide will help you care for your newborn chicks from when they hatch to 3 weeks old.
However, the temperature control and brooding days differ for free-range chickens and broilers, like Cornish chickens. The process of caring for both types is the same.
Below, you will learn how to raise baby chicks into coop chickens. Let’s start.
Things To Know About Raising Baby Chickens
Raising newborn chickens is a critical process. Due to inadequate care, many chicken raisers face early chick mortality.
This leads to death in 50-60% of baby chicks. If you are raising chicks without hens, you will need to take care of the chicks. Newborn chickens are very sensitive.
They must have proper heating, ventilation, feed, and water for optimal internal growth.
A small mistake at the beginning may increase the chick’s early death rate, which may cause a heavy loss in the poultry business.
You have to understand what they eat and what they don’t. Feeding your baby chicks the wrong thing can make them sick.
It may cause diarrhea and pasty butt like fatal problems. You must also check out their feeding, drinking, pooping, and behavior.
Every step is important, from getting chicks from the hatchery to selling off the chickens. So, good practices for raising chicks lead to successful chicken farming.
Things to Consider Before Buying Baby Chicks
There are some significant things to consider when buying a baby chick:
Dos Before Buying Baby Chicks
Before you order baby chicks, please ensure that you have done the following:
- You should only buy baby chicks from the nearest hatchery. Therefore, it is significant that chickens reach your poultry farm as soon as possible after hatching. Cackle Hatchery, California Hatchery, Chickens for Backyards, Freedom Ranger Hatchery, and Hoovers Hatchery are some top hatcheries in the USA that supply chicks.
- Always purchase high-quality chicks. You can also buy pullets if you want to avoid raising baby chicks. If you buy cheap, low-quality chicks, you will lose money.
- You can check the quality of chicks by visiting the hatchery and their websites.
- Always ensure the baby chicks have been treated with the Newcastle disease vaccine. Ask the hatchery about additional immunization information.
- Ask the hatchery to deliver your chicks in the late morning or daytime in the winter. In summer, try to take delivery of chicks in the morning and at night. It will be easy for you to receive them in the correct climate condition.
- Transfer them to the brooding house as soon as possible.
Also read: Complete Guide on Brooding Chickens
Don’t When Buying Chicks
Avoid doing these things when receiving chicks:
- Never buy chicks from a hatchery that is far away. It may lead to dehydration and higher mortality in chicks.
- Do not buy chicks from a small hatchery, even if they are cheaper. Low-quality chicks may have growth problems.
- Do not accept chicks that appear weak or dehydrated. Always make sure they are healthy before keeping them in your brooding coop.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Brooding House For Newborn Chickens
Prepare your chicken coop before the arrival of the chicks within a week. Below are some tips for preparing a brooding house for raising baby chicks:
- It is always best to have a separate coop for brooding baby chicks. Do not grow chickens and chickens that are young together.
- It is beneficial to raise adult chickens in different coops to prevent infection-causing. The chicken coop should be cleaned properly.
- Clean all equipment, feeders, and drinkers with 140 ppm chlorine water.
- Then you should clean all spider webs, dust, and insect nests inside the coop. Use insecticides and disinfectants to eliminate all bacteria, viruses, and insects.
- Spotless the floor and corners of the coop using the detergent spray.
- Before one week of the chick’s arrival, all poultry droppings should be removed from the floor. Use some best chicken coop cleaners and deodorizers to remove poop, pathogens, and bad smells.
- Then consider doing formalin fumigation inside the brooding house by trained personnel. The coop must be sealed for 24 hours after it has been fumigated.
- You need to ventilate to get the formalin levels down to 2 ppm.
- Then spread fresh coop bedding on the floor. We recommend rice hull and pine shavings for use in chick bedding.
- Now set up your heating equipment to maintain the temperature inside the brooder guard. Baby chicks are provided a warm temperature using heating lamps and various heaters.
Also read: How to clean a chicken coop in 3 easy steps?
Various Setup Inside The Brooding Coop For Baby Chicks
Before the newborn chicken’s delivery day, you must do some important things:
- Before your baby chicks arrive, you must read the brooding area. Its average diameter must be 3 meters for every 250 chicks.
- Use ½ foot of poultry bedding in the brooding area and put two layers of clean paper on top of it. Pine shavings and rice hulls can be used in poultry bedding.
- To keep a warm temperature, you should close the poly tarp covers.
- Put the feeder and waterer inside the brooder. Spread starter chick feed on the paper inside the brooding area and add electrolytes to the water.
- Before the chicks’ arrival, please switch on the brooding lights and keep the temperature at 75° Fahrenheit.
- After the arrival of the chicks, first check their condition and then count them.
- After opening the boxes, put the chick inside the brooder as soon as possible.
- Add poultry probiotic powder to the feed and water if you see watery diarrhea.
- Keep the weaker or smaller chicks in another brooder to give them time to recover.
- If you notice any additional health issues in your chicks, speak to your vet as soon as possible or refuse to accept the chicks from the hatchery.
- Before touching the baby chick, wear gloves and a mask.
- You should also wear rubber waterproof shoes (farm shoes) whenever you enter a poultry coop. Only use those shoes inside your farm.
- Never let chicks deliver people into your chicken farm because it might get contaminated with pathogens.
- The delivery vehicle should be stopped outside the farm or far from the chicken house. Try to carry the packed chicks boxes from the carrier vehicle to your brooding coop.
Best Tips for Caring and Raising Baby Chicks
The initial weeks are very crucial in a baby chicken’s life. They need special care during the first 2-3 weeks because they need special feed, water, and temperature.
The chick hatched after getting its yolk nutrition from an egg. But after they hatch, they must adapt to the new environment and learn to eat and drink.
In industrial farming, there is no hen to teach them how to feed and care for themselves. You are their first parents, so everything they will learn will come from your given brooding space.
Your job is to help them deal with all these problems. This will help them stay healthy for the rest of their lives.
There should be care needed for the following conditions:
- It is important to maintain the right temperature inside the brooder.
- An environment that encourages the chicks to be curious about eating and drinking.
- Nutrition is crucial for newly hatched chicks through good feed and water.
- Clean water is important for keeping chicks hydrated.
- Use some probiotics required for gut health.
- Emergency vitamin and nutritional supplements were provided to strengthen the weaker chickens.
- The newly hatched chicks need a pleasantly warm environment, starting at 75 to 95° Fahrenheit for the first week, then 4 degrees Fahrenheit decreasing each week until the chicks are fully feathered.
- The brooder should have a temperature range that is comfortable and healthy for the chicks.
- Each brooder should contain an area for heating, usually the area closest to the heat source.
- Chicks should also have an area of brooding where they can escape the heat if it is too much for them. Keep the brooding area drafts free.
- Placing a heat source in the middle of the brooding area allows the chick to move away from the source as needed.
Watch the Raising of Your Baby Chicks And Their Various Activities
Understand whether the environment is helping them or not. The chicks will not eat and come closer to the brooder if they feel too cold.
If the brooder is not powered on, they will move closer to each other. In this kind of situation, you should try to provide them with more warmth so that they will feel comfortable.
Baby chicks will run away from the brooder light when they feel too hot. Sometimes, too much heat makes baby chicks sick with diarrhea and dehydration. Lower the temperature as soon as possible to make the situation more comfortable.
Chicks live best in groups of over 250 in one brooder. Just as it is tempting to keep baby chicks together, there are reasons more babies mean they learn faster. Baby chicks encourage each other to eat and drink since they energize each other.
It makes them curious when they see others eating and drinking. If chicks sleep or appear disinterested, their peers will wake them up.
However, care should be taken to ensure that all the chick babies eat and drink well and that the smaller, milder chicks grow.
If you notice that some are not gaining weight, dividing them into two groups – one containing leading chicks – can help everyone get their share.
What Do Baby Chicks Eat?
The first food that baby chicks eat is the most important for their health. All chicks must receive a starter feed and have a high-quality brooding environment.
It is significant for chicks to be kept in a well-closed and predator-proof coop. Because they are very sensitive, a bobcat could easily kill more than 100 chicks at once.
The chicks grow fast and soon flap their wings and fly; they do not escape their safe habitat.
To avoid this issue, most of the chicken farmers set up their brooding equipment inside a closed chicken coop. It makes it easy to raise baby chicks.
Basic Equipment Used to Raise Baby Chicks
Brooding Heat Lamps or Infrared Bulbs
Using is good quality heat lamp for brooding is recommended. However, infrared bulbs are preferred for use in most brooding lighting. You can purchase them either at a local store or online.
The infrared bulb is better because white bulbs can dazzle and distract the young chick trying to sleep. The lamp has a clamp attached. You can directly attach it to a constructed container.
Thermometer for Chicken Coop
You can buy it at a local hardware store. It should have thermometers that are specific to poultry brooders. Using them will help keep the brooder at the right temperature.
You can use the base of the eggs cartoon as a feeder, but remember that the chicks will move and jump, probably making a mess.
Chick feeders are cheap, so always use them because chicks eat well in those feeders. The chick starter feed should be used.
Chicken feed enriched with vitamins and minerals should be used to support growth and development.
Make sure you always have feed for the chicks inside the brooder. The instructions for feeding time are mentioned on the bag. You can see them.
Keep an eye on the food and its container and clean them often.
Always use a small-size waterer suitable for baby chicks. Keep the waterer on its stand, or keep them 1 inch above.
Food and water should be kept away from the heating lamp and at the opposite ends of the brooder.
Chicks Floor Bedding
You can use many things for chick’s bedding – rice hulls, newspapers, paper towels, and pine shavings are common.
The newborn chickens will eat, drink, and sleep in the same place, so it is essential to keep them clean.
A Place to Keep Brooder and Chicks
Keep the chicks under a heating lamp for the first 5-6 weeks before they become coop chickens.
The brooding container should be placed in a spot free of drafts and unreachable from chicken predators. A separate closed coop with small fan ventilation is always recommended for brooding houses.
Baby chicks mostly don’t scratch; they only peck on feed in their initial days. So, putting paper bedding over the main pine shaving is important.
Offer yogurt once a week, or add a teaspoon of probiotic powder to their food. Mixing in the feed helps improve the health of the chicks’ intestines.
Clean Drinking Water
One of the most essential requirements for raising a chick is clean water, which most people don’t see.
The baby chickens are clumsy. While they learn to control these long legs, they often walk in the stern, followed by feed and water.
It’s important to ensure their water is always clean and fresh. Raise the chick waterer by 1 inch above the floor to prevent chicks from entering the water.
Pure freshwater encourages chickens to drink more frequently and increase their volume. Healthy, hydrated chicks are likely to become healthy chickens.
Essential Medicine and Vitamins for Weak Chicks
Anyone who raises chickens should have a product such as Save-A-Chick, Poultry Nutri-Drench in their kit box. These are c life-saving products for chickens used in emergencies.
Both products contain vitamins for raising chickens and for baby chicks who lose their vitality or are stressed.
Vitamin B will not only make chicks feel more energetic, it will also make them feel hungry, which is a real lifesaver for chick that may not be able to eat normally.
These products in the cupboard will also help adult chickens if they ever get sick or stop eating or drinking.
Raising Baby Chicks 101: Week 1 to Week 20
The chick is believed to survive on the yolk sac for up to 72 hours after hatch. The hatcheries will be able to send their day-old chicks because of this.
After 72 hours, they need food and water. Newborn baby chicks require extra care for their survival.
Small chicks under one week of age must be kept at 90° F. When you take the chicks for the first time, dip the beaks in the waterer to “teach” them to drink.
Do the same with food. They are highly addictive creatures and will learn this life skill quickly by watching the other flocks.
Keep the bedding clean from moisture and poop. In the first week of life, the baby chicks sleep a little.
In the first week, baby chicks are given the LaSota vaccine for New Castle or Doyle’s disease. The route of the dose is intranasal or intraocular.
Lower the brooder’s temperature by 5° F and keep it at 85° F. Raising the discharge lamp by a few centimeters will help achieve this.
The chick should always have access to adequate food and water. It allows them to eat and drink whenever they want, which helps them grow into healthy coop chickens. Keep food free from moisture.
Clean and replace the bedding material with new ones. Remove the paper bedding from the top of the pine shavings.
The feathers will start replacing “fluff” on the growing baby chicks. As they grow, they have a natural craving for scratching.
There is a small perch in the chick’s brooding area. It can easily make one with three small branches, placing them in the “H” shape.
They will learn to trust and become familiar with you, so keep interacting with them.
Further, reduce the brooder’s temperature by 5°, which should now be about 80° F. Keep access to extensive clean food and fresh water. Replace the bedding by cleaning the floor.
The space inside the brooding area must be increased in the third week of raising baby chicks. You need to double the brooder guard diameter because chicks are now double-sized.
Chicks are given the IBD (Infectious Bursal Disease) vaccine in the third week. The route of vaccination is intraocular or intranasal.
How high should you raise the heat lamp for baby chicks? Reduce the temperature by 5° F, which is at 75° F. To get this, raise the heat lamp by a few inches.
Chickens need food and water all the time. Make sure that the chicken feed is clean and dry. Replace water if necessary. If necessary, clean or change the bedding.
In the fourth week, the LaSota vaccine booster dose is given to the baby chicks. The route of the dose is intranasal or intraocular in drinking water.
The R2B strain vaccine must be given in the intramuscular route below their arm joints. Ask your vet or poultry expert for immunization.
You can take the heat lamp away if the temperature exceeds 60° F. This is one of the best times to release your chickens to the backyard or open area for a short time. Remove the brooder guard.
Adult feathers begin to appear on chicks. After the starter feed ends, start mixing it with some finishing dishes.
Continue to provide them with adequate food and water to help them grow. It is necessary to clean or change the bedding regularly. Add another perch inside their coop.
When can chicks go outside? In the sixth week, it is best to let the chickens outside.
If the weather is good, you can move the baby chicks outside. It is recommended that they be kept in a fenced area.
Make sure they will enter their chicken coop in the evening. Close the chicken coop door properly to avoid any predator attack.
Make sure that they enter the cage at night. Close the door at night to protect it from predators.
Chickens are addictive creatures. They will know what to do in the evening with a routine.
Once they acquire this habit, you can allow them to free-range during the day. And they will return to the coop every night at the same time.
Kitchen scrap is one of the best treats for 6-7th weak chickens. Want to know more about what chicken can eat? Here is our complete list of chicken treats.
Week 7th to 15th:
When the chickens are outside, they eat plenty of things, such as worms, insects, and grass. Feeding them twice a day is important to ensure they get enough food for growth and development.
Let nature go in the way, and be happy that your chicken flocks are becoming self-dependent.
In week seven, give a booster dose of LaSota in cold drinking water, and in week eight, give the R2B vaccine by intramuscular route.
16th to 19th week:
Now it is time to encourage your pullets to lay eggs. Try to add some chicken nesting boxes inside your coop.
Just put a ceramic nest egg inside the nesting coop, and they will start filling the box with eggs. Most of the hens start laying after 18-19 weeks of age.
Provide them with finisher feed during this age. Feed them twice a day (morning and afternoon). Change water daily or make sure that you always have access to water.
Most of your pullets start laying eggs in their nesting coop during this time. Getting our first egg is exciting because it is the first step in raising chickens.
You will also hear the roosters crow in your backyards. You will awaken to the lovely sound of your rooster’s crow.
The first time you see the result of your work is when you get eggs from your hens.
In this definitive guide, we have explained all about raising baby chicks. It’s a great journey from hatching to crowing and egg-laying.
It is essential to raise newborn chickens correctly. Raising them involves receiving them from hatcheries, brooding, feeding, watering, and caring.
This guide is best for those who want to avoid the breeding process in chicken farming. So, next time you wish to raise baby chicks from day one, this guide will greatly help you.