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Baby Chick Care: Week By Week Guide

Baby Chick Care: Week By Week Guide

Posted by Grange Co-op on 1st Feb 2021

It’s important to provide the best care possible when transitioning baby chicks from the store you purchased them at, such as your local Grange Co-op, to their new brooder at your homestead. Providing the appropriate care and nutrition will set your chicks up for a strong and healthy life. Looking for a proper guide for baby chick care? Ensure you’ve got everything covered by referencing our week by week guide below to help you care for your baby chicks.

Less than 1 Week Old

After baby chicks hatch, they ingest their yolk sac for almost 2-3 days. This gives them the nourishment and energy they need to survive.

After three days or 72 hours, the chicks will lose their yolk sac. This is when they will require nourishment through proper food and water. At this point, you can offer them Chick Starter.

baby chick care

Baby chick care is not just about providing the right food. It is also about providing the right environment. When they are less than one week old, keep them at a temperature of 90°F. During this phase, you can gently dip a few of your chick’s beaks into their waterer. This introduces your chicks to the water source – do so shortly after placing them in their new home but wait a couple hours before introducing feed and doing the same. You want your chicks well hydrated during this transition period before they begin eating. You should only need to dip the beaks of a few chicks into the water to help them locate it. These chicks will then teach the rest to drink. Showing them where the food and water is at such a young age will ensure that these creatures of habit get acquainted with this skill rather quickly, along with providing them the essential nutrients needed to survive.

When baby chicks are less than one week old, they tend to sleep quite a lot. It’s important to make sure their bedding remains clear of any moisture or feces. Add absorbent wood shaving bedding to the floor of the brooder. Place bedding 3 to 4 inches deep to keep the area dry and odor free. Clean regularly by removing wet bedding daily, especially around waterers. Do not use cedar shavings or other types of shavings that have a strong odor because the odor could affect the long-term health of the bird.

Week 2

When your baby chick enters its second week, you need to start lowering the temperature. Make sure that you drop down the brooder temperature by 5 degrees, bringing it to 85 degrees F. The best way to accomplish this is to raise the brooder lamp by a few inches.

baby chick care

During this time period, it is still essential to give your baby chick plenty of water and food all the time. Make sure you have a rather hefty food supply if you want your chick to thrive. Moreover, make sure to load their cage with food and water regularly. This will allow them to eat and drink whenever they please, which will help them sprout into healthy and well-grown chickens. Clean egg cartons filled with feed make excellent and easily accessible feeders for young chicks. Transition them to low-lying feeders, or trough feeders, once they are big enough. Along with cleaning the brooder daily, make sure your chick’s food and water remains free of moisture/debris and feces. To keep their food and water clean, place it on a small block or hang from above. Make sure the feeder/waterer is not too tall, making it difficult for the chicks to have access to, but is far enough above the ground level so they cannot kick their bedding into it or walk in and out of it freely.

At this point, the fluff on the baby chicks will begin to be replaced by feathers. After this stage, as your chicks continue to grow, they develop a natural desire to roost. For this purpose, don’t forget to add a perch for the chicks. You can do this by creating one with 3 small twigs or wooden dowels, lining them up to form the ‘H’ shape.

When it comes to baby chick care, another essential tip is to interact with them regularly. This way, they will be well acquainted with you and there will be a bond of trust as they continue to grow. This can be extremely helpful later when the chicken needs care or maintenance performed on it.

Week 3

Once your baby chick hits the three-week mark, bring down the brooder temperature by another 5 degrees. This means you will have to set the temperature at 80°F. Continue to provide considerable amounts of clean food and fresh water, along with cleaning or replacing their bedding material as they can only flourish in clean areas. During week 3, you will also begin to notice more feathers appearing on your baby chicks.

baby chick care

Week 4

Once your chick hits the 4-week mark, bring the brooder temperature down even further. You can lower it about another 5 degrees, bringing it down to 75°F. In order to achieve this, you can raise the heat lamp by another few inches. Don’t forget to maintain an adequate supply of food and water for your chicks. Once again, make sure the food remains free from moisture and feces. Moreover, keep a check on the baby chick’s water supply and change it as needed. Keep then entire brooder clean by replacing water, cleaning out feeders and adding/replacing the chick’s bedding regularly.

Week 5

When week 5 starts, you can get rid of the heat lamp from your chick’s cage. You just need to ensure the temperature doesn’t fall below 60°F. This is probably a great opportunity for you to move the brooder elsewhere. At this point, adult feathers will be evident on your baby chick. Now is when you can begin weaning your chicks of the starter feed and shifting to finishing food. A chick starter feed such as Rogue Nature's Harmony Organic Feed can be fed to your chicks until week 9 but you can begin incorporating an adult pellet or crumble into their feed around this time.

Week 6

Once your chick hits the 6-week mark, you can move it outside. We recommend keeping your chickens in a fenced area during the day and at night. Chickens are creatures of habit. So, once you establish their daily routine, they will get accustomed to it. If you have an existing flock, you’ll need to introduce your new chickens to them. This process can be found in an additional blog post here.

baby chick care

Baby Chick Care: Conclusion

After the 6 th week, your chicks will be large enough to survive on their own, fully integrated into their new flock and routine. Continue to provide them a clean environment and fresh food and water daily. Depending on the time of year you received your chicks, you can expect some to begin laying by week 20. Proper baby chick care is essential if you want your chicks to thrive and live a healthy life.

For more information on baby chicks, utilize our blog or one of our in-house Grange Co-op Chicken Experts. In search of baby chicks, or chicken supplies? Visit us in-store or on our website now!