How to Care For Your Chicks
Chicks are fragile creatures that require a lot more work than one might expect. If you are the new, proud parent of chicks, be sure to bookmark this article from The Run Down, because for the next six weeks, these little hatchlings will require a lot of TLC. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the challenge of raising chicks, we’ve got some tips on how to take care of your new feathery friends!
Make A Safe Living Space For Them
Until chicks are old enough to live outside, which tends to be around six weeks, they will be your new roommates! The safe space you create for your chickens is known as a brooder. Chicks need to stay inside your house or garage because they need a safe, comfortable area that will not only foster growth but also protect them from the cold and predators. If this isn’t your first priority, sadly you may want to prepare for the loss of some chicks. Raccoons, weasels, dogs, and many other critters are always looking for a snack and if your chicks aren’t protected properly, they may fall victim! Once they hit around six weeks, you can move them outside into their henhouse.
Check On Your Chicks
Chicks should be checked-up on at least five times a day. Remember to clean their brooder at least four times a week, because chicks are prone to disease and injury. First off, make sure their food and water is always clean, especially from any droppings. Chicks need fresh water and a chicken fountain like this is the best way to ensure they never go thirsty. Other containers or saucers spill too easily or require a lot of attention to make sure the water is clean and filled.
When you go to check on your chicks, oftentimes you are doing so to protect them from each other. It is common for chicks to further peck the injured when they sense any sort of wound in another. If you notice any signs of injury or trauma on your chick, we advise separating it from the others immediately.
Provide Heating Lamps and Food
Generally, the chicks are only a few days old when you bring them home. They will need to be kept warm, and a blanket simply won’t do the trick. Chicks need to be kept in an area that ranges from 85-95 degrees, depending on their age. They will also need ample light and unless you would like your electric bill to skyrocket, your best option for keeping your new little ones warm and under light is by installing a heating lamp from your local Runnings. Make sure you have placed the lamp correctly in the brooder to ensure they have enough room to move about to regulate their body temperature so they don’t get too hot or too cold.
Chicks require different feeds as they grow, so it’s important to pick the right food for them. For the first 8-10 weeks, chicks should be fed 20% protein found in feed such as Nutrena® NatureSmart Organic Chick Starter Grower. To sustain and support growth as they mature, you can switch them to an 18% grower feed like Nutrena® Country Feeds® Chick Starter Poultry Feed. Remember to check their food to make sure it’s free of any droppings or other contaminants!
Fun In The Sun
When your little chicks are 2-3 weeks old, you can start taking them outside and watch them play. However, be careful to not let them get too far. Predators are everywhere and can range from hawks to cars, so it is imperative to keep a close eye on them while they are outside.
Your New Exterminators
A great thing about chicks and chickens is that they are great exterminators! They love to eat roaches, spiders, and all other types of creepy crawlies that come across their path. This is what we like to call a win-win situation- you are not a fan of roaches and your chicks consider them treats! The jury is still out on what chicks can do for pesky neighbors though, so you may need another solution like fencing you can find at Runnings.
Safe and Hygienic Handling
When working with chicks, it is extremely important to maintain a high level of cleanliness for yourself and family. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap after touching or working in and around the brooder or directly with the chicks. Disease and infections can spread easily amongst poultry so it’s very important that you and your chicks stay clean!
Raising chicks is a lot of work, but well worth it. The process of raising chicks is a labor of love and a bonding experience- not to mention a great learning experience for kids! It is more than investing in an egg-laying machine; you’re investing in future pets for your family members. Chick Days are back so head into your local Runnings store today to get everything you need to get started on raising your chicks! Don’t forget to sign-up for email alerts and stay in the loop on all special offers and promotions at Runnings.