For some, raising chicks may be a hobby. Others do it for sustenance. Whatever your reason, you would have to know how to raise them properly. Raising chicks at home may seem a low-maintenance task but it isn’t. The mortality rate is high, which means that you can end up losing all your investment. This is one more reason why you should know how to raise baby chicks.
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Purchasing Baby Chickens
Raising chickens starts with buying them from the right place. Many people go to the roadside shops for baby chickens, which is fine in most cases. However, the best way to get a strong and healthy chick is through local farmers or a friend or a relative who actively breeds them.
Farmers or someone who breeds chickens know which breed or a mixture of breeds you should get. For a person who is just starting out, the right breed and quantity can help. Another thing you might want to consider is the age of the baby chickens. Here are your options,
Freshly Hatched Chicks
These are a day or two old. At this stage, they require the most amount of care to survive. For this, you need to provide them with proper space, shelter, food, and water while keeping them warm and dry all the time. Chicks are cheaper to purchase but they have a high mortality rate so for a week or two you need to be extra cautious.
4-week old chickens
Chickens this old have developed immunity against many diseases. Their feathers grow to keep them warm. Now you don’t need any external heat source and no extra maintenance. Many people prefer to buy them at this stage because their chances of survival are a lot higher.
How to prepare your home for baby chickens
Now that you have bought them, don’t just put them away in an empty cardboard box. They might end up suffocating or hurting themselves. Here is what you should do instead. Get:
- A cardboard box
- Wood shavings or any absorbent bedding
- Heat lamp if you live in a cold environment
- Chick feed
- Waterers and Feeders
Step 1: Gather all of the above supplies and start by setting up a brooder. Brooder is the home for chickens which in this case is a cardboard box. Do not over crowd the brooder, every baby chicken should have 3 to 4 square feet of area.
Step 2: Set up beddings, it should be 3 to 4 inch deep so the brooder remains clean and odorless. Also it leaves enough space for chickens to scratch the bedding.
Step 3: Place water if you have one or use a solid dish having less surface area. Do the same with feeders or else chickens will waste the food.
Once you set up the waterer and feeder, take a few baby chickens by hand and dip their beaks in the water. After some time do the same with the food. These baby chickens will then teach the rest of the flock to drink and eat.
Step 4: If the weather is cold, maintaining the temperature in the brooder is necessary. Use a heat lamp and set the temperature to 37-degree celsius.
As the baby chickens grow, you need to lower the temperature every week for optimized growth. It’s advised to lower the temperature by 2.7 degree centigrade.
Once your chickens grow to a respectable size, make sure they are shifted to the main coop. This will help them grow and learn about their natural habitat. Even as chicks, make sure they have enough space to grow their muscles.
Things to consider when growing baby chickens:
- Don’t use cedar shavings as they can be toxic. Newspapers and magazines are slippery, chicks can fall off and damage themselves.
- The best temperature for baby chicks to grow is 37 degree celsius. Freshly hatched chicks cannot generate enough body heat to keep themselves warm.
- Don’t use pet dishes or deep bowls. It’s hard for baby chickens to feed on them and they might get wet.
- Don’t feed big chunks of hard food to baby chickens. Chickens don’t have teeth and they ground the food in a gizzard in their stomach. Use small chick food pieces so they can ingest them easily.
- It’s preferable to use baby chicken feed for the first 1-2 weeks.
- If you want to expand the brooder, don’t remove the previous water and feed source, until chicks get to know the new source.
- Don’t place water and feed sources more than 4-feet away from the baby chickens.
- The frequent positions of your baby chickens in the brooder tell a lot more about their mental and physical condition. Have a look at the chart below.
These were some of the Dos and Don’ts of raising chicks at home. Do you have more tips to share regarding baby chickens?
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