There’s just something about Springtime. Everything starts to awaken. The grass and trees come back to life. It’s also a great time to raise baby chicks. All of the big hatcheries start shipping them in the Spring. We are blessed here in the South and can get new baby chicks pretty much year round.
I bought my new flock in September of 2022. It had been six years since I had raised chickens from my old house. I wanted to focus on building the house and not become overwhelmed with taking care of something. So, I waited until we were settled in the home before adding anything else to my plate.
Selecting Baby Chicks
This is where the term “chicken math” got started lol. Have you started looking online or searching through different magazines for the breeds that you are wanting? Do you want cold or hot weather chicks? How about the colors of the eggs? There’s white, brown, colored and dark eggs. It can get overwhelming, so here’s some tips to get you started.
Where to Buy
Online – There are different sources you can check online to purchase them. Some have a minimum quantity that you have to order. You can always go in with a few people and share the order. Most for what I was looking for, they couldn’t ship to me until end of March and I needed mine last September.
Local Farm Store – This might be a big box store or a small family owned store. Either way, they are taking the burden off of you and are ordering in large quantities. This way, you can select different breeds and just buy one or two of each kind, if you like. Select the ones that are running around so fast you can hardly catch them. That’s a good sign that they are healthy and thriving.
Local Hatchery – Most of these are local small farms in your town. They raise their own chickens and hatch them right on their farm. Some specialize in just certain breeds but their website should state that prior to you placing your order. This is a good way to support your local farmer.
So, now you need to select the type of breeds you are wanting in your flock. Being docile, heat tolerant, egg color mixture and a good layers were all my deciding factors when I selected my baby chicks. You will have other needs, I’m sure. I researched online and read reviews and studied prior to purchasing my chicks.
I bought mine at a local farm store and researched the hatchery that they bought from and got friendly with the “chicken lady”. Lavender and Chocolate Orpington’s along with other breeds were on my list. It was hard to find everyone of my requests, but I am happy with my selection. There were some new breeds I wasn’t familiar with, so that’s when I went and did my own research.
Prepare Your Chicken Coop
Now that you have decided on your breeds, it’s time to start thinking about what your coop is going to be. When you bring the baby chicks home, they won’t necessarily go out to your coop unless it’s enclosed like mine is. I built my chicken coop almost completely by myself (with help on a few things). See how I built mine HERE.
Think about how many chicks you want. You will need to build your chicken coop large enough to accommodate them. You will want roughly 4-5 square feet per chicken. Mine will hold 15-16. I have 13 chickens and they all fit fine in my coop.
Most people keep the baby chicks in their garage in a tote or trough. You have about 6 weeks until they start flapping around and you might need to increase their size of the container until you are ready to take them outside.
Here’s some tips on what I learned as I was building my Chicken Coop:
- Make sure your coop is secure.
- Roosting bars need to be much higher than their nesting boxes.
- I allowed 12 inches for spacing for each chicken so they could roost properly at night.
- I built a storage room in the front of my coop to house all the food and supplies.
- Keep a supply of medicines on hands. Baby chicks are fragile when you just bring them home and may become sick.
- Cover your chicken run with a roof. It is so important to keep them away from the rain and any outdoor elements when they get older.
- Use hardware cloth on the chicken run and not poultry netting. It is so much more sturdier and you are less likely to have predators come in.
- Proper ventilation is key. I made a dutch door and leave the top part open when I’m out in the garden. I also have two windows on the side that are open all day.
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Taking Care of Your Baby Chicks
Now that your babies have their brooder all set up, it’s important to watch their behavior. Baby chicks are like human babies. They like to be warm. I’m not a fan of the heat lamps. They are good in a pinch and if you can keep your eye on them. I used this really cool HEATING TABLE when I raised mine. They are very safe and effective. All the chicks would huddle underneath and keep each other warm.
Make sure you have shavings down in your container. You’ll be changing their water frequently, just because of all the mess the shavings and the chicks make. Purchase the chicken starter feed. That will assist the babies in developing their bodies and allowing them good nutrition. I did add the electrolytes packet to their water for about a week. You might read that it’s not necessary, but follow your heart.
You can find most of your supplies online or at local farm stores. Baby chicks are easy to raise but you just need to watch them in case one might become lethargic or start acting funny. There’s something called pasty butt. That’s when the shavings and poop my get clogged in their butt. You can pick up the chicken and get a warm washcloth and wipe it off. Don’t pull too hard but use a gentle wipe. Just keep an eye on each of the babies for this so they don’t develop clogged ducts.
Baby chicks eat, poop and sleep a lot. Their water and food need changed constantly because they are in a very small confined space and they pretty much are pooping in their water.
By six weeks, they shouldn’t need the heating source anymore. I put mine in my coop at four weeks. I closed off the access to the run because they were still too little to be out there. It was nice and toasty in my coop and at that time, I bought a bigger waterer and feeder.
Supplies You May Need
I hope this finds you encouragement to start your new flock. Baby chicks grow fast so enjoy them while they are little! Feel free to dm me on Instagram or email me at [email protected] and I’d be happy to answer any questions. Good luck and tag me in your photos. I love seeing baby chicks!
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