Making the decision to get started with raising baby chicks is pretty simple. But it does take a bit of planning and preparation.
It’s not super complicated to get your new chicks off to a happy and healthy life. With a few basic steps, you can easily start raising your own backyard chickens.
Raising Baby Chicks at Home
How do you get started with raising baby chicks? What supplies do you actually need?
How long do baby chicks need to be kept in a brooder?
There’s so many questions many people face when getting started with raising chickens for the first time.
One of the very first animal purchases that led me into this homesteading lifestyle was new baby chicks.
You guys, I’m telling you, they are the gateway.
How does one actually resist walking out of the feed store during “chick days” empty handed? If my husband isn’t with me, I literally can’t do it.
Choosing the Right Breed
If you are brand new to raising baby chicks, determining which breed is right for you and your needs may take a bit of research.
But again, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
First thing… are you purchasing from an online source? Or maybe from a feed store or a local farm?
When purchasing online, be sure to make sure you find a breed that suits your needs best.
For example, if you live in a colder climate, choose a chicken breed that can tolerate the cold weather.
Usually the local feed stores will have varieties available that will do well in your area.
A few other things to consider are:
- what the breed’s personality traits are
- if they make great egg layers
- or if you’re keeping them as pets, etc.
Hatching vs Purchasing Chicks
I have done both over the years, but lately I am more of a fan of purchasing baby chickens. Mostly for the convenience.
There are pros and cons to both. Hatching your own chicks is the more frugal choice. If you have a broody mama, you don’t have to worry about things like a heat lamp.
But hatching chicks using an incubator is time consuming and hatch rates aren’t always 100%.
Hatching your own chicken eggs does make a great science experiment for the children! My little ones love it…and its also a great lesson in patience for them.
What Supplies Do You Need?
When purchasing your new chicks, you’ll need to make sure you have a few supplies. I’ll have links to what I recommend using at the end of this post.
Here’s what you’ll need…
A simple DIY brooder will do. And a big storage tote will work for most. Or something that we have done in the past, is to use an old mineral tub. just be sure to clean it out really well first.
This year, my husband built this simple brooder pictured below.
- feeder & waterer
- chick starter
- fresh “ bedding” – although not the most frugal option, I like potty training pads. They help keep the moisture away and make it easy to clean up after the chicks.
- heat lamp
Brooder Temperature Guide
When raising baby chicks, its important to make sure their temperature is well regulated and they’re staying warm for the first six weeks.
If you don’t have a broody hen or mama chick to keep the babies warm, a brooder will be sufficient. How big the brooder should be will depend on how many chicks you’re starting out with.
The next most important thing for the brooder is a heat lamp.
There seems to be controversy in choosing between a red infrared bulb and a standard white heat bulb.
In nearly 10 years, our preference has always been the standard white bulbs because that’s what our feed store has available and recommended.
We have used both options, but always go back to the white.
And we’ve never had any issues with our baby chicks. But I will suggest researching it a bit and making the best option that works for you.
Here’s a handy guide on what temperatures to keep in your brooder:
Moving to the Coop
If you have an established flock, ensuring your new chicks safety by slowly introducing the chicks with the other hens.
Raising new chickens doesn’t have to be super complicated. But ensuring that you take a few steps will help keep your new flock healthy and happy.
If you’re new to raising chickens in general, here’s more information on getting started with raising chickens for beginners.