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Caring for New Chicks

If you are one of those folks that raises chicks continually as we do, the one thing that’s always the same is that there’s always something different. In that case the one thing you can always do is try to have as much ready as possible when they arrive.

When receiving chicks in the mail, always get the tracking number and keep up with where they are and be ready to pick them up at the post office. It is a good idea to call the post office with the instruction to call you as soon as they arrive and to hold them for you to pick up at the post office. This way you can pick them up a lot sooner and try to comfort them on the way to your home.

French Black Copper Maran chick photographed by Imogene Frazier

I always feel better starting them off somewhere in my home. Baby chicks don’t take much room, and they’re very vulnerable as day-old chicks. At this stage they only have fuzz on their body, and they’re very susceptible to become cold. Chicks that are cold for long periods of time can die from hypothermia. It’s a good idea to have the brooder box nice and warm ahead of time for their arrival. If you order your chicks by mail, the one thing you want to do for sure is to be ready when they get there.

Brooder partitions work well with day old chicks

A brooder box can be simple, and if you don’t plan to use it again it can be disposable. Simple partitions of cardboard set up on the floor in a circle is all it takes to make a brooder. Cover the floor with a sheet of cardboard and then layer with bedding and you have a brooder. A large storage container works well too for a couple of weeks depending on how many chicks you have. Try to provide ½ square foot per chick at the start.

Normally chicks will not start drinking or eating until their body has warmed. At floor level the temperature needs to be 100-degrees F directly under the heat source, but for the first few hours only. Then lower the temperature to 98-degrees F for the rest of the first day and then to 97-degrees the second day. Then take the temperature to 95-degrees for a week. The next week take temperature down to 90 degrees, which would be best monitored by a thermometer inside the brooder. There after take the temperature down 5 degrees e