How to Care for Baby Chicks

by admin

How to care for baby chicks is an important question when first starting out as a chicken owner. Embarking on the journey of raising chicks not only brings the joy of cute companionship, but also opens the door to a more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle. Welcoming a batch of adorable baby chicks into your home is an exciting and rewarding experience. Whether you’re a novice or just starting out on your backyard poultry journey, this beginner’s guide is here to walk you through the basics of chick care.

Choosing your Chickens

  • Purpose: If your primary goal is a steady supply of eggs, focus on breeds known for high egg production, such as Leghorns, Sussex, or Rhode Island Reds. For meat production, consider broiler breeds like Cornish Cross or heritage breeds known for their meat quality, such as Orpingtons or Plymouth Rocks. If you want a balance between eggs and meat, dual-purpose breeds like Barred Plymouth Rocks, Australorps, or Wyandottes are good choices.
  • Climate: If you live in a colder climate, choose breeds with good cold tolerance, such as Wyandottes or Chanteclers. In hot climates, opt for breeds that handle heat well, like Leghorns or Rhode Island Reds.
  • Temperament: Some breeds are known for being calm and friendly, making them suitable for families and backyard settings. Examples include Orpingtons and Sussex. Other breeds might be more energetic, flighty, or overly broody, so choose based on your preferences and the environment.
  • Egg Color and Size: If you have a preference for egg color, note that different breeds lay eggs of various colors, including white, brown, blue, and green. Some breeds produce larger eggs than others, so consider your egg size preferences.

Setting Up the Brooder

Before your chicks arrive, it’s essential to set up a cozy and warm brooder – a safe haven for your chicks during their early weeks. Your brooder can be as simple as a large plastic storage container or as fancy as a custom wooden box, depending on your budget and desire. Either way, a heat lamp or heat tray is necessary to maintain a toasty temperature of around 95°F (35°C) initially. Line the floor with soft bedding material, such as pine shavings or straw, to ensure a comfortable environment. Another thing to keep in mind is chicks love to roost when they’re resting. Provide roosting poles or stacks of wood so chicks have a place to perch a few inches off the ground to keep them from roosting on the waterer and feeder.

Choosing the Right Feed

Selecting the proper feed is crucial for the healthy development of your chicks. Opt for a chick starter feed, which is basically a powdered food, with around 18-20% protein. This specially formulated feed provides essential nutrients to support their rapid growth and feather development. Once the chick reach about 8-10 weeks old, switch them to 18-19% chick grower feed.

Warmth and Temperature Regulation

Keep a watchful eye on their behavior – if they huddle together under the heat lamp, they might be cold, and if they stay on the outskirts of the brooder, they might be too warm. Gradually reduce the temperature by 5°F each week until they are fully feathered, usually around 6-8 weeks.


Ensure a constant supply of clean, fresh water. Use chick waterers to prevent any accidental drowning. I like to put marbles in the bottom of the water tray for an added precaution. I like to add ACV ( approximately 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered ACV) to their water a couple times a week. This helps with electrolytes, digestion and immunity. Hydration is key to their well-being, and a happy chick is a well-hydrated one.

Socialization and Handling

Spend time observing and gently handling your chicks. This helps them get used to human interaction, making them friendlier and more comfortable as they grow. Of course, always be sure to wash hands thoroughly after handling chicks.

Health Check

Regularly inspect your chicks for signs of illness or distress. Isolate any sick chicks immediately to prevent the spread of disease. Keep an eye out for pasty butt! “Pasty butt” is where droppings accumulate and stick to the feathers around a chick’s vent, creating a blockage. If you notice one of your chicks has poop stuck to their butt, simply using a paper towel moistened with warm water, carefully clean the pasted droppings from the chick’s vent. Be gentle to avoid causing stress or injury. A healthy diet, proper temperature, and a clean environment go a long way in preventing health issues.

Transition to the Coop

As your chicks feather out and grow, it’s time to prepare them for the transition to the coop, generally around 6-8 weeks. Make sure the coop is secure, well-ventilated, and equipped with suitable nesting areas. Introduce a chick-sized perch to encourage natural roosting behavior. Check out our Chicken Coop Here

Dust Baths and Playtime

Chicks love to dust bathe! Provide a shallow container with sand or fine soil for them to roll around in. Wood ash and diatomaceous earth are great additions as well. It helps keep their feathers clean and provides entertainment for these curious little creatures.


So there you have it – a friendly guide of how to care for baby chicks, you can create your own slice of sustainable homestead heaven. Raising baby chicks is a delightful adventure filled with joy. As a beginner, taking the time to learn and provide the right care will set the stage for happy and healthy chickens. With the proper attention, your fluffy companions will grow into productive egg layers or charming backyard buddies, making your chick-raising journey a truly rewarding experience. Enjoy the journey into the wonderful world of poultry parenting!

Oh, and this is your warning that chicken math is a real problem. So when you are ready to add to your flock again, come see us!


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