Chicks make good pets or can be raised for food, and just like any other young animal, will require some attention to raise it to adulthood. Before you buy a chick and decide to raise it yourself, read the following information to help you get started. Here’s how to raise baby chicks.
- Prepare your brooder. This is where the chicks will be placed so they don’t wander off. It can be a cardboard box or a tub where you can place a heat lamp over it. Young chicks must be kept near the heat lamp when they are young so they don’t get cold and die. There should be ample space for the chicks to move around. Allow about two square feet per chick.
- When you bring home the chicks, dip their beaks in the water to help them acclimate to their new environment. You may stroke them then gently place in the brooder.
- Check the temperature. Keeping the chicks warm is critical in the first few weeks. The heat lamp must be a 250watt lamp. Use a red bulb. The chicks need to live in the brooder up until they are about six weeks old. However, each week, lower the temperature so that they can slowly get acclimated to the outside temperatures. If you notice all the chicks gathered directly under the lamp, it means they are cold so lower it. If they try to move away from the lamp, it means they are too warm so raise it a bit.
- Get a chick sized feeder and water container. Larger ones won’t contain spills and the chicks may get in it and leave droppings in their food and water supply.
- Use pine shavings for the bedding of the chicks. Pieces of hay may be too big for them when they are still small.
- Keep the environment clean. You want to avoid “pasting up”, a condition wherein the feces of the chicks pile up and can block any air vents. Don’t let the chicks wallow in their own feces so keep its container clean.
- Get the best quality grain you can afford. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions before purchasing the feed. The type of feed you buy will depend on the age of the chicks.
- Consider if you will give the chicks vitamins or other supplements.
- Keep other animals away from your brooder, especially dogs and cats.
- When the chicks are at least four to six weeks old, you may transfer them to the coop. Keep them inside the coop for a few days so they get used to their new environment. However, you may let them roam freely outside so they are free range. Let them enjoy the outdoors and warm up in the sunshine.
Give your chicks proper care. In a few weeks, you will notice that they grow fast. You may decide to keep them as pets or as egg hens.