How to Raise Baby Chickens after Hatching
Once your baby chicks have hatched from their shells they can be removed from the incubator and transferred to their brooder. A brooder is essentially where they’re going to stay until they grow and get some feathers. This can be as simple as a box that is well ventilated but protected from drafts. You will need to supply a heat source, such as a 250-watt heat lamp to keep your chicks warm.
For the first week, the brooder needs to be kept at around 27 – 30 degrees Celcius. For every following week, drop the temperature by one to two degrees. A thermometer will help gauge the temperature, but the behaviour of your chicks will also be an excellent guide to understanding if the temperature is too hot or cold. If they’re all crowded together directly under the heat source, they’re cold. Therefore lower the heat lamp or add another heat lamp. If they’re around the edges of the brooder, they’re too hot, so the heat lamp will need to be raised. Happy chicks will be content exploring all around the brooder.
A layer of bedding should go down inside the brooder. A good choice is pine shavings or pea straw as they provide a cushioned surface that is easy to walk on and is absorbent for the mess your chicks will make. Avoid using newspaper as this can become quite slippery when wet and can lead to ‘splayed leg’.
Feed and Water
Feed is relatively inexpensive for young chicks. Chicks will need starter feed for the first few weeks. We recommend using Lauke Mills Chick Starter. Resist the temptation to use a dish or bowl for feeding your chicks. They’re messy little creatures, and will jump in and kick the feed all over the place as well as do their business in it. Spend a few extra dollars and buy a baby chick feeder. We have a range of feeders here in stock including small ones for chicks.
Not sure how much food you should give to your birds? The answer is ‘as much as they want! ‘ There is no reason to ration your birds feed. Give them 24/7 access to all the food they can eat.
Water is particularly important, as little chicks will drink a lot. Be prepared to change the water at least two or three times a day. Just a with their food dish you will find they make a mess easily. A water dish also presents a potential hazard to baby chicks, which is drowning. One way to avoid this is to place marbles in the dish so they can still drink, but can’t submerge themselves in the water.
Also, a little parental instruction may be needed to teach the little ones where their food and water is. Take one or two chicks and (gently) dip their beaks in the water. Before you know it, the rest will follow and will know exactly what to do.
After the chicks are 2-3 weeks old feel free to let them have a little time outside if it’s warm and sunny. Put them in a wire cage or erect some other temporary housing and place it in the sun, making sure they have access to water and shade if they need it. They will love digging around in the grass and dirt. However don’t leave them unattended! At this age they’re very good at flying and very susceptible to predators. Plus, if it’s windy they’ll get cold.
By 4-5 weeks of age your chickens are ready to move outside full-time.
Where to Buy Baby Chickens in Adelaide
Chickens are great pets and will provide you with lovely fresh eggs for years. If you’re looking to buy some chickens for your backyard we have them here most of the year round. Our baby chickens aged 1 – 4 weeks are priced at $6.50 each and 4 – 8 weeks old are priced at $8.00 each. If you’re looking for big chooks who we have them too! Simply give us a call and we’ll let you know what we have. If we don’t have any at the time you ring we can make sure we put them on hold for you when they arrive.