If you are planning to raise chickens, you might be wondering how to take care of day old chicks. Chicks are delicate and need special attention to survive and thrive. Here are some tips on how to care for your new feathered friends.
1. Prepare a brooder. A brooder is a warm and safe enclosure where the chicks will stay for the first few weeks of their lives. You can use a cardboard box, a plastic tub, or a metal cage as a brooder. Make sure it is large enough for the number of chicks you have and has a secure lid to prevent predators or pets from getting in. You will also need to line the bottom of the brooder with absorbent bedding, such as wood shavings, straw, or paper towels. Change the bedding regularly to keep it clean and dry.
2. Provide heat and light. Chicks need a constant source of heat to keep them warm and comfortable. You can use a heat lamp, a heating pad, or a brooder plate to provide heat. The ideal temperature for chicks is 95°F (35°C) for the first week, then reduced by 5°F (3°C) each week until they are fully feathered. You can use a thermometer to check the temperature inside the brooder and adjust the heat source accordingly. You should also provide some cooler areas in the brooder where the chicks can escape if they feel too hot. Chicks also need 12 to 16 hours of light per day to stimulate their growth and development. You can use a timer to turn on and off the light source.
3. Feed and water them. Chicks need fresh and clean water and food at all times. You can use a chick waterer and a chick feeder to provide them with water and food. Make sure they are shallow enough for the chicks to reach and have no sharp edges that could hurt them. You should also clean them daily to prevent bacteria growth and contamination. The best food for chicks is a starter feed that is specially formulated for their nutritional needs. You can find it at most feed stores or online. You can also offer some treats, such as boiled eggs, mealworms, or fresh greens, but only in moderation and after they are one week old.
4. Monitor their health and behavior. Chicks are prone to various diseases and injuries, so you should check on them regularly and look for any signs of illness or distress. Some common problems include pasty butt, coccidiosis, respiratory infections, parasites, and injuries from pecking or predators. If you notice any symptoms, such as diarrhea, lethargy, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, loss of appetite, weight loss, or blood on their feathers, you should consult a veterinarian or an experienced chicken keeper for advice and treatment. You should also observe their behavior and make sure they are active, curious, and social. If they are huddled together, shivering, panting, or peeping loudly, they might be too cold or too hot and need adjustment in their temperature.
5. Enjoy your chicks! Raising chicks can be a rewarding and fun experience for you and your family. You will get to watch them grow from cute and fluffy balls of feathers to beautiful and productive chickens. You will also get to enjoy their eggs, meat, manure, pest control, companionship, and entertainment. Chicks are amazing creatures that will bring joy and happiness to your life.