The next challenge lies in actually raising your chicks into full-grown birds. You may, for instance, raise a few chicks inside a box when young, but once they get older they’ll need their own coop.
If the weather is warm a small crate surrounded with fine chicken mesh would work for a while. This will prevent the chicks from being attacked by nearby predators while providing them with enough fresh air to breathe while keeping them from running all over the place. The size of the chicken coop would be completely dependent upon the number of chickens that you have.
Tiny chicks have to be kept really warm. This cannot be overstated or repeated too often. The heat source should be good enough to keep them warm but not roast them alive. This is a thinner line than you might think, so be careful.
A heat lamp with a 100-watt bulb is usually good for approximately 25 small chicks. Usually, the temperature should be set at 90 degree F or 32-degree C. To ensure that the temperature is constantly maintained, you would also need to have a thermometer inside the chicken coop. This temperature should be gradually decreased over the coming weeks. Make sure to check your thermometer in the interim, as well, making sure that it reads properly.
More often than not, the chickens themselves will tell you whether the temperature is too hot or too cold for them. If they are really peeping loudly and are huddled in a group under the lamp, it means that they are cold. In this case, you’ll want to decrease the distance between the lamp and the chickens. If they are trying to get as far away from the lamp as possible, then it means that they are feeling extremely hot. Move away the lamp further away and the chicks will feel better.
Now that the coop and lamp are in place, the coop also needs to be lined with sand and grit. Don’t line the coop with newspapers, the chickens have a natural tendency to scratch and tear up all the newspapers. The grit in the coop will help them digest food more easily. If you aren’t sure about the amount of grit you should use for the coop, ask the store from where you bought the grit and the chicken starter feed.
A waterer is an immensely important tool to have as the chicks are extremely thirsty after they are born. Place the waterer in such a way that it can’t be knocked over when the chicks are running around in their coop. The temperature of the water should also be maintained at 90-degree F. for aforementioned health reasons.
Feed for the day old chickens should be chicken starter or chicken crumbles. These foods will come in medicated as well as in un-medicated varieties. Which variety to buy is completely up to you and influenced by several factors.
If you have bought the chicks from a hatchery,
then you could try a bag of medicated feed and then switch over to non-medicated feed. If you have hatched the chickens in your own incubator, the option is completely up to you. When the chicks are just a day old, use small feeders, but ensure that they aren’t made from out of Styrofoam. Chicks have a tendency to peck at everything and can both swallow and digest the Styrofoam, which is bad for them.
When you first introduce the chicks to their coop or pen, keep an eye on them and allow them to get familiar with their surroundings. The day old chicks need to be taught how to drink water. Dip their beaks into the waterer gently, while making sure that the remainder of their body remains dry. When their bodies get wet, they can get the chills and die very easily.
Keep watch over them and ensure that any other pets you may have are coming nowhere near them. Also, make sure to alert any children that might be around how to handle the chicks properly.