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Do you want chicks but need to know the supplies required for raising baby chicks?
Raising baby chicks might be one of my favorite parts of spring homesteading. Each spring, we get more chicks, and I love to see my children fascinated with them.
Last year was the first year that my daughter, Jolene, got to see chicks and find some joy in them. Each morning, we excitedly ran to check them out and see how they faired each night.
Before we either buy our chicks from a local store, such as Rural King, or order them (check out Murray McMurray), we gather all the supplies we need for raising baby chicks.
The very first year that we raised chickens, I had NO idea what I was doing. I was born and raised a city girl; raising chicks was as foreign as speaking Japanese.
Do you feel the same way? Confused about what you need to get started raising baby chicks?
You aren’t alone, so here’s the deal.
I’m going to lead you through the things that you REALLY need to raise chicks. If I don’t think you NEED it, I won’t include it. You can raise chicks on a budget, I promise.
9 Supplies You Need for Raising Baby Chicks
1. Brooder Box
The first thing you need is a brooder, which is basically someplace to keep your chicks. You can be as creative as you want to be picking a box. If you buy your chicks from a store, you’ll notice they use large, galvanized steel feeders to store the chicks.
I’ve used Rubbermaid containers (the large, rectangle-shaped ones) to hold chicks, and I even adapted a dog crate to house chicks.
Here are the most important things to consider when picking a brooder for your chicks.
- It needs to stop the chicks from getting out and protects them from predators.
- You need to be able to hang a heat lamp from the top.
- When chicks are little, they need to be draft-free.
2. Heat Lamp
Perhaps even more important than a brooder box, chicks REALLY need a heat lamp. We have to replace the job of the mother hen.
In nature, a broody hen sits on her eggs until they hatch, and then the little chicks spend a lot of time under their mama, staying warm. Since we don’t have a broody hen right now, we need to keep the brooder at a consistently warm temperature to mimic the mother hen.
- The red bulb stops chicks from pecking at each other.
- The darker light encourages the chicks to sleep better.
Another option is a bit more expensive, and they are heaters for chick brooders that the chicks can lay under. However, for the price, these would be better if you planned to raise chicks each year.
The purpose of having a heat lamp is to keep your chicks warm, but how warm? At first, the brooder should be kept at 90-95 degrees F.
Keeping a thermometer in your brooder may not seem like a need, but I think it does. If your chicks get too hot or too cold, they can die, and I don’t want to lose any of my chicks.
Here’s my little trick to help figure out if my chicks are at a happy temperature.
If your chicks are moving around freely, chirping, and sleeping together, then your chickens are at a comfortable temperature. When your chickens are huddled together near the heat lamp, your chickens are too cold. Panting chickens indicate that they’re too hot. Sometimes, they’ll huddle as far away from the heat lamp as possible.
4. Chicken Waterer
As you might imagine, chicks need plenty of fresh water. You should get a chick waterer, which is a smaller version of the ones you can use for adult chickens. They don’t take up as much room in the brooder.
5. Chicken Feeder
You also need a chicken feeder. It holds the food for your chicks to eat. I suggest using a feeder rather than a dish or pail. Once, one of my chicks flipped a dish of food on top of itself. Thankfully, it was fine, but I would advise using a feeder designed for chicks.
Inside of the brooder, you need to lay down bedding. It keeps the smell of their poop down, absorbing the moisture.
You can find different types of bedding at most farm and fleet stores. We use cedar chips, and a bag at Rural King sells for $5. That will be sufficient for several weeks in a small brooder.
Good Bedding Choices
- Cedar Shavings
- Pine Shavings
- Hemp Bedding
Bad Bedding Choices
- Cat Litter
- Shredded Newspaper
- Paper Towel
7. Starter Feed
Chicks required chick feed. You cannot feed chicks adult chicken feed, which is one reason why they do need to stay separated for a while. Chick feed is typically medicated as well; chicks are susceptible to a variety of diseases.
Some people don’t want non-medicated feed; that’s perfectly fine! It’s a personal choice for each chicken keeper. There are plenty of options available for non-medicated chick feed.
You also want to include some chick grit. Grit helps the chicks eat other food besides feed. If you want to toss them scraps, be sure to add some grit to their feed.
8. Place to Roost
Chicks need a place to roost as they get bigger. You can make a DIY roost or buy one that is premade. Roosting is a skill that they need to develop. Chickens roost in their coop, which is off of the ground, as a protective measure and to keep warm together.
9. First Aid Supplies
It’s also a wise idea to keep first aid supplies on hand for your chick. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use these supplies, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared. You never know what might happen, and raising baby chicks can be a bit tricky. They are vulnerable.
Here are some supplies you might want to grab.
- Sav-A-Chick Probiotic: With this, you can mix probiotics into their drinking water. Probiotics help with digestion and can help with runny chicken poops.
- Sav-A-Chick: You add electrolytes and vitamins into your chicks’ water. Doing so helps them stay hydrated when they are stressed.
- Neosporin: Chances are you already have this on hand for your injuries, but it’s also helpful if animals have wounds. It will help to heal chicken wounds faster, preventing infections.
- Blu Kote: Every livestock owner needs to have Blu Kote on hand. It’s antiseptic and germicidal, preventing infections and healing wounds. It turns the wound blue, which stops the other chicks from pecking at the red injury.
Raising baby chicks doesn’t involve tons of supplies. You don’t need to invest a lot of money, but you do need to keep your chicks confined, healthy, fed, and watered.
Soon, they’ll be outside in their big coop, laying you plenty of eggs!