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Healthy Living

Getting Ready For Spring Chicks

By: John Moody  |   April 25, 2024

It is almost here. Spring chick season! Few things are as fun around the home and homestead as the chirp chirp chirp of baby chicks! Both for new chicken owners and more experienced folks, here are a few ideas to help ensure you have the greatest possible success with your dear little friends!

Be very broody!

A proper brooder setup is crucial to avoiding poultry problems. Brooders without corners are ideal, to avoid piling and similar issues. There are two very easy setups that I like. The first is using a Rubbermaid or similarly waterer - rubber/plastic or metal both work well. The rounded, smooth sides mean there is no place for the poultry to pile up, and they are high sided so escape is difficult. These work well for 15-25 chicks, depending on the type. The second is cutting an IBC tote down to roughly half height. We have done up to 100 chicks in this setup, but realize that meat birds especially at that number quickly outgrow it. It is excellent for around sixty or so. Sufficient, appropriate bedding that is changed regularly. Quality feeders and waterers are a must. Dirty water is dangerous to any animal, but especially young ones!

Don’t skimp on feed

Young animals are not as resilient when it comes to feed as adults. A proper chick feed is a must - we have never used medicated feed in 15 years of raising chicks and never had issues. Don’t skimp and try to use your regular chicken or layer feeds on your baby chicks!

Poultry too hot, poultry too cold, poultry just right

Keeping animals at the right temperature is crucial. If birds are piling, they are cold. If they are pushing against the outside sides of the brooder and staying as far away from the heat source as possible, they are too warm. While being on the warmer side is less dangerous than being on the colder, it is best to have a way to keep temperatures as close to ideal for the poultry you are raising as possible. One way to do this is to use an inline thermostat controller, like an InkBird. This has a thermometer, and allows you to set the range when the heat will turn on and off in the brooder.

Acclimate them to real food as soon as possible

Another often skipped step with baby chicks? Getting them used to real food options! From the beginning, we bring our chicks all sorts of other treats - fresh greens like chickweed, clovers, and the like, worms and other bugs, and more. If your chickens are not exposed to real food until you finally move them outdoors, they will be far slower to eat and enjoy such fare. You are their mama chick, showing them what to eat by what you offer. So take advantage of when they are young to give them a healthy palette and preference for real food when available!