Raising Baby Chicks

Are you thinking that all you have to do is decide you want to raise baby chicks and everything will be hunky-dory?  I mean really, no planning, no making sure you have everything you will need on hand?

For starters, how many chicks do you plan on raising or what breeds do you want to raise.  I hope this article will be humorous as well as informative.  You see, many, many years ago this is how my first experience at raising baby chicks started!

Even though I had grown up on a farm, all I remembered was gathered eggs and feeding them.  After I married I decided I had to have chickens.

Since my husband had never raised any he took my word for what was needed – four walls – a roof – a roost –nesting boxes – a floor and a brooder – with a door to shut the coop up.  Of course we needed a fenced pen with a wire top to keep all the critters out also.

So I got out my hatchery catalog and started deciding on which chickens I wanted.  So many to choose from – from tiny bantams (whose eggs are not much bigger than bird eggs) to huge ones – exotic breeds and yes some that even laid blue and green eggs!

I should have done my research but a chicken is a chicken, right? Wrong! Some are passive and some are very aggressive.  I should have paid closer attention.  I lost many of the smaller chicks to the larger ones.

With the next batch I was a little smarter but still had a lot to learn.  Chickens are a lot like people and have as many different personalities. You will learn that as time goes by.  You have your bullies and the passives.

All babies are cute but some more than others.  There is just something about a cute little ball of fluff running around depending on you for everything.  Make no mistake about it though.  They are work and take a lot of time not only when you first get them home but up to laying stage and beyond.

Have everything ready for them the minute you bring them home.  You’ll need plenty of chick starter, a brooder which can be made from anything from a metal tub to a plastic trough to a cardboard box.  Have a couple of inches of wood shavings in the bottom for sanitary purposes.  Very important is having a 250 watt infrared light that can be lowered or raised to keep a constant 90 – 95 degrees.

An oven thermometer will help you keep track of this. After small feathers have started to form you can lower the temp by 5 degrees a week until they are almost feathered out. Or you get the temperature down around 70 degrees.

Then you can change them to chick grow until they are about 20 weeks old and are ready to change to lay crumbles or pellets.  Always have fresh food and water available summer and winter.  I guess one thing I forgot to mention is a condition called pasting in baby chicks.

It’s caused from poop drying around the vent and prevents them from having a bowl movement.  Eventually this will kill the chick.  There is only one way around it.  Check each chick daily and wash their little bottoms with warm water and a soft cloth.  This usually clears up with-in a week.

As cute as they are handle chicks as little as possible.  Children seem to squeeze too hard, dogs scare the daylights out of them and we don’t need to go into the cats!!

Try to be more prepared than I was.  Either draw up your own plans for your chicken coop or buy a good set. You will get much more information on pens than I ever thought of.

You can find plans for a basic coop, a two story unit and even a chicken mansion.  Whichever you decide, I’m sure it won’t be your last time raising baby chicks!