of Baby Chicks Being Raised for Layers or as Pets
Temperature: 90 to 95 degrees the
first week and then 5 degrees less each week, until
70 degrees and then they should not need heat anymore.
One 125 watt heat lamp in a utility reflector is sufficient.
Ventilation is important also.
Floor space: provide ½-1 square foot per bird
for first four weeks. Two square foot per bird after
fours week. Birds often pick at each other if they do
not have sufficient space, fresh air, food or water,
or are too hot. Fresh grass clippings and/or clumps
of sod with grass may keep them busy and help eliminate
Sometimes in the first few weeks chicks tend to paste
up on their rear ends. This needs to be removed regularly.
Use warm water and cloth. It should disappear as they
Litter/Bedding: do NOT use newspaper (alone) or anything
slick to raise chicks on because this may cause damage
to their legs. Shavings work well, particularly pine
and fir. Straw will work but can be slick for young
chicks and usually harder to clean. Be sure to clean
often and do not let chicks be on wet litter, it must
be kept dry.
Feed: use chick starter crumble (preferably with antibiotics)
for approximately 5 months from hatch or until pullets
begin to lay. Also, provide some grit, preferably in
a separate container. At 4 to 5 months switch to layer
food and/or provide oyster shells or some other form
of calcium to assist with egg shell development. Free
range chickens can get grit and some calcium from their
Water: always provide ample, fresh water to your birds.
Use appropriate waterers so that birds do not drown.
Do not use bowls or dishes. Raise waterers as the birds
grow. The lip of the waterer should be even with the
bird’s back. That way the waterers will stay cleaner
and it is easier for the birds to drink.
Feeders: like the waterers, raise the feeders as birds
grow. Hanging feeders and waterers reduce spoilage from
chickens stepping in the device.
Additional Info: be prepared before purchasing poultry.
More chicks are lost due to improper preparation such
as heat, litter, waterers, feeders and feed than from
disease. The area used for rearing should be free of
rodents, cats, dogs, etc. It is not suggested to raise
chicks together that are more than two or three weeks
apart in age. The older ones may pick the younger ones,
potentially to death. Use your good judgment if you are try this. It is often not
be a problem, though providing sufficient space and heat minimizes problems. After 8 weeks of age, chicks are old enough to be introduced to older chickens.
Buy a book on home chicken raising, attend one of our
workshops (or someone else's) and/or search the web
for information when needed.
Good luck, have fun, take pictures and email your questions
Cheers, your friends at Livingscape