Living an organic, closer to the earth, more self sufficient lifestyle may lead you to start thinking about raising chickens. Here are a few tips on getting started with day old baby chicks.
It is recommended to begin with a commercial chick starter for the first 8 weeks.
In the beginning, cover floor with several layers of newspaper. This will allow the baby chicks to be able to find the food easier. Add fresh layers of newspaper or change it every day.
After three days, place a filled feeder or trough sized that the chicks can reach into for their food.
After the third day, grit can also be sprinkled on top of the feed as though you were sprinkling salt on food. This is to ensure the chicks are not filling up on grit rather than on food. Be sure to use chick sized grit, as regular grit may be too large.
In the beginning, a 1 gallon waterer will be sufficient for every 50 chicks.
Add 3 tablespoons of sugar to every quart of water the first few days to provide extra energy to the chicks.
Change water every day to keep clean fresh water available.
When you first receive your day old chicks, be sure to dip each beak in the water so thay can drink immediately. One of the dangers is dehydration.
As they get bigger, switch out the smaller waterer for a larger one, or add several waterers to be sure every chick has access.
The first week the chicks should be in an environment where the temperature is between 90 – 95 degrees F. Be sure to check, do not guess.
After 1 week, reduce temperature by 5 degrees, continuing to reduce temp by 5 degrees each additional week until reaching 70 degrees F.
A 250 watt heat bulb is ideal, about 18 inches off the floor. Be very observant. If they crowd under the heat lamp, they are cold and may trample each other. If they are trying to stay far away, it may be too warm.
Using a red light bulb will reduce the occurence of pecking at each other.