It’s fun to see a hen hatch chicks or buy chicks from the feed store. But before you buy chicks, you need to have a place to raise them. Here is what you’ll need:
- A waterer. The chick ones with the thin rim are best, or else you can fill a normal-sized rim with clean rocks. This will prevent the chicks from drowning.
This is a bigger waterer suitable for older chicks. If you used this for younger chicks, you would need to put rocks in the rim.
- A food dish. The round chick feeders with holes around the edge prevent chicks from spilling the food. The plastic ones are easier to refill than the metal ones, and you have less risk of getting cut on them. Also, the plastic doesn’t rust and can be used longer.
This is a good food dish for chicks.
- A clean bin. You will put the chicks in this. It should be large, with high sides, and be at least one foot by two feet.
- White pine shavings. Don’t use cedar shavings—the oils in these are bad for chicks. Don’t use hay, either, for the stems are too big. Put the white pine shavings in the bottom of the bin. Spread them about 1 inch thick.
- Get a brooder light and a bulb. Red bulbs are supposed to prevent the chicks from picking on each other, but we have found that white works well, too.
Brooder light and bulb.
- Find something solid to attach the light to. Make sure the light is secure. The light gets hot, so make sure it is not near anything flammable. If it falls, it could start a fire.
- Put all this in a secure coop with no chickens or other animals in it. Plug in the light.
Raise your chicks in a secure coop free from drafts.
- Get food and fill the food dish.
- Fill up the waterer.
- Now you’re ready to get chicks! Food and water will have to be refilled every day. If it’s not warm enough, you may need a second light. Occasionally give the chicks grit. Scratch is not necessary, but chicks like to eat chick scratch. Once the chicks are a few weeks old, take them outside for a little while! For tame chickens, handle them regularly. If you have a hen to raise the chicks, you can skip the light and tub, but make sure they have food and water at all times.
Hen and chicks.
Chicks raised in a brooder playing outside.