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Raising baby chicks is a right of passage for any homesteader or self-sufficiency folks. But when you’re a beginner raising baby chicks, you want to make sure you’re caring for your animals correctly, after all, this is your egg and meat production.
These tips on raising baby chicks pertain to chicks purchased from a hatchery, feed store, or in the mail, when they haven’t been hatched out with a Mama hen. It’s much easier when we let nature do her thing, but many people don’t have the luxury of an already established flock or broody hen and need to begin their flock with baby chicks.
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So glad you asked. For the first two weeks baby chicks should be kept at 95 degrees Fahrenheit. After that, you can raise the heat lamp by a few inches to lower the temperature by about 5 degrees for each week until the chicks have their full feathers.
Usually, chicks will be under the heat lamp for about 6 to 8 weeks. At 6 weeks chicks are fully feathered, but if your outdoor temperatures are below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, slowly acclimate them.
Our chicks start living outside after about 2 to 3 weeks of age, but still with the aid of a heat lamp. We’ll turn off the heat lamp during the day if it’s warm out, but turn it back on for chilly nights for a few weeks, until they’re about 8 weeks old, depending upon the weather.
You are the most important, and biggest factor, when it comes to raising your baby chicks and their health
Using the above 6 tips will help give your baby chicks their best start, but nothing can take the place of daily care and attention.
Make sure you check their water twice a day. Having clean and fresh water is very important. If the watering container springs a leak, you don’t want your chicks standing in water or getting drenched.
You’ll want to make sure they’re at the right temperature throughout the day. If they get too hot or cold, it can be critical.
This is especially important during the first 24 hours of setting up your baby chicks.
If they’re panting and at the corners of the brooder box (away from the heat lamp), it’s a sign the baby chicks are too hot and the heat lamp needs to be raised up a few inches.
If they’re all huddled together tightly under the heat lamp, they’re too cold and you need to lower it an inch or two to warm them up.
Keep their brooder box clean. You don’t want them eating, lying, or breathing in an excess amount of poop. Chickens don’t urinate separately, it all comes out in their poop, which makes excellent fertilizer, high in nitrates, when it’s had a chance too cool.
There you have it, our complete guide for raising baby chicks for the first 6 weeks. Have you ever raised baby chicks?
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.