You Bought Chicks — Now What

Baby chicks are wonderful, cute fuzz balls.  Unfortunately that fuzz does nothing to keep your chicks warm.  They will depend on you to keep them warm until they “grow up” and get feathers.  So those of you who have been wanting to get chicks need to get a “set up” for your baby chicks until they grow up.   In farm terms this is a brooder.

A brooder is a warm draft free place.    Brooders come in all shapes and styles.  I have see big plastic storage containers, fancy wooden ones and yes even professional ones.  You can Google it online and see lots of ideas.   Find one that works for you.

My favorite brooder is a dog crate with beach towels around it, with a heat lamp on top.  It works for me because the chicks  can stay in this from the beginning until they are fully feathered if you have just a few.   I like the dog crate because I already own it, and the heat lamp can be hooked to the top of the metal hence reducing that inherent fire risk.  You do need to be smart about the heat lamp that you are going to run for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   Another reason I like the dog crate is I can clothes pin beach towels around the perimeter to keep the drafts out, and lower it as they become a little more sturdy (feathered) to allow more daylight in.  Daylight can help hasten feather production.

The biggest challenge is keeping the temperatures right.  New born chicks need to start out with temps between 95 and 90 degrees, just like under mother hen.   Each week you need to lower the temps 5 degrees until you get to 70 or the ambient temps.  Professionals raise the heat lamp each week to do that.  Folks with home brooding situations can’t do that as easily.   I use a home-made rheostat to do that.   I  mounted a dimmer switch and an plug-in outlet in an electrical box.   I plug the heat lamp into the outlet and turn down the dimmer a little each week watching the thermometer in the dog crate.   It means that my set up never changes, but I can turn down the heat each week.

Hopefully this will help inspire you and get you started with your chicks.


One comment on “You Bought Chicks — Now What

  1. Swear, you should do an E-book on grass roots chicken-raising, the technical and not so technical aspects of raising chickens!! You are the chicken and weed queen… I don’t think you have enough room on your head for all those crowns!

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