Baby Chicks 101
The very first thing to acknowledge when it comes to baby chicks, is that they're not toys or things you get on a whim. Baby chicks are not spontaneous Easter gifts for ones that do not have the means or area to care for them. Chicks are cute, but fragile little creatures, and most people cannot resist smiling and picking one up to hold when they seem them. There's nothing as cute as a peeping bunch of little chicks, but keep in mind, chicks grow up! And you have to have what's required to give them a safe and happy life.
If you have the proper set up to care for a chick, then more than likely, you have the area to take care of two or three or more. It's not the best living situation to have just a single chick; they enjoy companionship just like we do. And while you may be able to hold and cuddle a baby chick in the early stages, as they mature and grow into adult chickens, you probably won't be able to hold them as much. An adult chicken will be more interested in scurrying around the yard pecking for bugs, and hopefully doing so with a companion chicken.
So if you've thought it out, and you've made the decision to add some chicks to your household, the first thing you're going to need is a good, quality chick-starter-grower-feed. This specialty feed contains a precise blend of nutrients that's great for growth and development.
Secondly, your new chicks will require a chick waterer. They make specifically designed water containers for chicks that have only enough room for them to tip their beaks into and drink. In other words, these waterers are not big enough for all the chicks to trample through and get themselves and/or their area wet and their water dirty.
Also, you will need a safe and secure place for them to stay. You can construct and area yourself, or you can purchase a prefabricated chicken hut. Typically, the chicken huts will have a covered roof, small cubbies for them to sit in, and fresh, dry hay. And depending on the temperature and season, and the area in which you live, the chicks must stay warm. If the chicks are "little bitty", they're going to need a heat lamp, and as I mentioned earlier, it's better to get several chicks because they help to keep each other warm; they snuggle! However, when using a heat lamp, NEVER put the lamp too close to the chicks and have the area set up so that they have free choice to get out from under the lamp if they choose too. In the first few days of having new chicks, you can make them a temporary set up indoors in the spare bathtub or in a store bought Rubbermaid bucket until they mature and can keep their body heat regulated better on their own.
Chicks are very enjoyable to raise and being able to go outside and gather fresh eggs six months or so down the road, when then chicks mature, is the neatest thing, especially if you've never done it before! Fresh, free range chicken eggs are fun to find and gather, great to eat with a biscuit, and also help to keep the grocery bill down.
So, if you're thinking about getting into the rewarding past-time of having chickens, know that they are a responsibility, especially when they're young chicks, but it's all worth it if you have the time and interest.
- Tim Edwards Feed Admin