Just Grow It

How To Raise Chicks-Week 1

How To Raise Chicks-Week 1


A lot of people love and keep backyard chickens now.  It seems as if it one of the newest fads, similar to everyone eating organic.  Most people I see go down to the local farm store and buy whatever breed of laying hens they have available.  These birds can cost you anywhere from $12-$20 a piece! Those laying hens you buy from the feed store all start out like day old chicks.

People are unaware how relatively easy it is to raise day-old chicks in your brooder box.  When things go according to plans, Raising baby chicks is a fantastic experience that will help you to connect with nature.  But, when things go wrong well that can be devastating.  This guide will start assuming you have already determined the breed and the number of chicks you want.  I will assume you have your girls on hand whether from a feed store, hatchery or breeder.


  • Have the brooder assembled and prepared for the chicks. Have the light on to ensure the brooder is the ideal temperature.

  • Place chickens in the brooder, under the heat lamp as soon possible. Remember the chicks are not capable of regulating their body temperature yet.

  • Some people dip the chicks beak in the waterer so that they know where it is and to help them avoid dehydration. I do not; I believe the chickens if warm will explore and find everything out on their own.

  • Do not let the chicks get cold no matter what. Keep an eye on all the girls. If some of them cannot find the heat source, assist them.

  • Leave a light on all night. Chicks need to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings.

Day 2

  • Refill waterers and feeders. Chicks can easily dehydrate, so it is vital that the waterer is kept full. Feed is just as important. Running out of feed can cause the girls to rummage through the litter looking for food. Doing this the chicks will inevitably intake feces which can lead to an outbreak of coccidiosis. Avoid this epidemic by using medicated feed which I do not prefer to use.

  • Check in the brooder and remove sick and dead chicks immediately. The first 48 hours are the most stressful on the baby chicks, and you will find your highest mortality rate during this time.

  • Leave a light on all night. Chicks need to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings.

Day 3

  • Check on chicks at least two times a day

  • Discontinue use of night light

Day 4

  • Increase the amount of food available to the girls.

  • Increase the height of the waterer. Doing so will help keep the chickens from walking in the water and lowering their body temperature.

Day 5-7

  • Introduce large capacity feeders and waterers.

  • Adjust the height of the feeder so that the chickens are neither stretching up or bending down to eat.

  • By the end of the first week, you should no longer be dealing with dead chicks. If you are it is signs of another problem.

  • Raise the heat lamp a few inches or decrease the bulb wattage.

  • Be on the lookout for paste butt. Feces is dried and caked up on the butt of the chicken making it impossible for them to relieve themselves. If you notice this situation clean the butt of the chick with warm water and a paper towel.

I do not use the 250-watt heat lamps.  I live in Houston, TX it doesnt matter the season it is plenty warm all year long, so that is unnecessary for me.  What about the winter time? What winter?  A 125w incandescent light bulb is sufficient.  Every week I lower the wattage until I have a 60-watt bulb in there.  I have noticed that anything smaller does not provide adequate heat.  Well unless you are raising chicks in the summer in TX heat where it is 90 degrees at night time then at night time I have gotten away with something like a 25-watt bulb.I always place my brooder where it receives sunlight for a few hours a day.  Locating the brooder here helps lower my electricity consumption, light and heat from the sun are free.

I also do not switch the chicks to the bigger feeder or water until I am ready to move them out into the coop.  The smaller feeder and waterer forces me to stay on a schedule and check on my birds multiple times a day.  Doing this helps me catch any little problems as soon as they arise.

I have noticed it is most important to keep your chicks from getting cold.   Do not place brooder in a windy location, keeping your chicks draft free.    Take time when building or purchasing a brooder to ensure that it is draft proof.  The only opening should be at the top of the brooder, for ventilation.  If you are raising chickens in a brooder outside in the scorching weather, I recommend adding some ventilation holes around the floor.  More vents help with air circulation, which in turn helps to regulate the chicks body temperature avoiding overheating

Raising chicks in a brooder is a more straightforward process than people imagine.  Remember your chicks need four things, shelter, heat food, and water.  If you purchased your girls from a reputable source, ensure that they have heat, food, and water and you should be good to go.  For more information check out one of my favorite books, "Success with baby chicks”  written by Robert Plamondon.  A quick and easy read full of immense knowledge.

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