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April 12, 2018
what to know
Before you bring your new chicks home, set up a brooder, which is a place for the chicks to live, grow, eat, and drink for the first three to five weeks of their lives. You will need an artificial heat source to replace the warmth they would normally get from a mother hen. A simple option for a brooder is to just use a sturdy cardboard box, like those used by moving companies, and a clamp lamp with a red heat bulb. It’s best to allow a 1/2 square foot per chick in any type of brooder. You don't want them to be overcrowded, and they’ll need room to get away from the heat lamp if they get too warm. Some folks have even been known to use their own bathtubs with a hanging heat lamp!
When it comes to food for newly hatched chicks, a good quality starter feed in the form of crumbled pellets with a protein of at least 18% will be all you need. Bags range in size from 5-50lb bags and are available in medicated, non-medicated & organic. Make sure the chicks also have access to fresh water. Use a very shallow container in case the chicks fall in, and use tepid water so as not to chill them. It's important to clean the chicks' water twice a day and their feed once a day. In order to do this chore easily it’s nice to have a spare box to put your chicks in for the few moments it takes to get the feed and water clean again. It's important to keep new chicks away from any grown hens you might already have as they may try to peck at them.
Chicks can be moved into a regular chicken coop at three to five weeks of age, depending on the temperature of the coop. If it's extremely cold or hot, give the chicks some extra time indoors. Once in the coop, chicks should be sectioned off from older birds. They can also start eating a grower feed at this point also known as Pullet Developer. At about 20 weeks of age, they’re ready to go on regulate layer rations and hens can begin laying eggs!