Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Starting Baby Chicks
The baby chicks have hit the feed stores! I hope you are ready! If you are not, I have just the primer for you! I have used this simple set up numerous times. First you will need a box. The sides need to be about 24-36 inches tall. You want something small that is suitable for the number of chicks you have purchased with out forcing them to walk in their food or water sources. Do not choose a box that is too big as you need to be able to regulate the heat in the box with an incandescent light bulb. I like a rubber tub for ease of cleaning but a cardboard box will do. In this photo we used wood shavings. I actually prefer many layers of newspaper. Once the paper is soiled, about every other day, you can just remove the top two layers with out having to change the whole box.
Food and water dispensers that fit on mason jars can be purchased in plastic or steel. I do not have a preference here.
Regular tap water is fine. You can purchase a medicated powder for the chicks. I have not done so for the past 3 years and prefer not to. In small numbers and clean cages, I don't think it is necessary. If you do, you will need to change the water bottle daily and wash often as the jar will become slimy. For food, you will need to purchase a granulated chick starter.
Your chicks will eat this for the first ten to 15 weeks of age. Once they have most of their feathers, you can begin to mix in some other grains such as ground corn.
Regulating heat in the box is going to be one of the most important things you do. Generally an incandescent bulb in a hooded fixture is suitable. The idea is to create a warm enough space that the chicks do not pile on one another for warmth. In piling up, they will easily suffocate one another when cold. If too warm, they can dehydrate. Be sure to cover the box if you have predators in your house i.e. dogs or cats that might find them to be a tasty treat!
Cheep! Cheep! Your baby chicks will sleep a lot in the beginning so don't be alarmed. Let me know if you have questions!