One of the favorite things for my family this time of year, is when our baby chicks arrive in the mail. It’s like Easter and Christmas, all tied into one.
Previously we spent time picking out different breeds to add color and class to our coop, and now they are here. This year we have beautiful reds, speckled, and black chicks. And, of course, they were all given names.
As with each year, we choose themes for our animals that are born. This year the theme is rock bands. So two of the baby chicks are named Guns and Roses. It is fun for the kids, and with themes, I remember their names a whole lot easier.
Because baby chicks bring so much joy to our family, I want to give you that same experience. Even if this is your first year buying chicks, there is no need to be stressed. As far as animals go, chicks/chickens are the easiest, in my opinion, to take care of.
With that being said, this post, along with my YouTube video, should set your mind at ease on what to do when your chicks arrive in the mail or if you get them from a store.
Buying Your Chicks
You can order your chicks online or from a local store. For years now we have ordered ours from Murray McMurray.
When Should You Order Your Baby Chicks?
We order ours in February, March, or April so that they will arrive by June or July. Since we live in the North, this allows them to come when our temperatures are a little warmer. But if you have a nice place with a heat lamp, you can order when it is best for you. If you buy them from a local store, I would ask when they expect their chicks in prior, so you are ready for them when they come. If ordering online, they will show you when to expect your shipment if you order on a certain date, so no guessing is necessary.
Getting Your Pen Ready
After you have ordered your baby chicks or found out from your local store when they will arrive, it is time to get your pen all set up.
Here is a list of what you need:
- Chick feed. There is medicated and non-medicated feed, which you can find at a Fleet Farm or local feed store. You can also make your own mixture. I would recommend buying two 25lb bags to start.
- Feed holder.
- Water Holder. You can also buy these at the same place as the feed or online.
- Heat Lamp. Depending on the number of chicks and temperature, you might need two.
- Some type of chick pen, or galvanized tank, homemade box, etc.
- Sawdust or straw. We use both.
Once you have all the items, set up your pen so that all you have left to do is add the water and feed when the chicks arrive.
We put a layer of sawdust down first and then a layer of straw. Trust me, this makes pen cleanup a lot simpler and also keeps the smell down. See the picture below.
The straw bales we use as a border to keep our large pen a tad smaller. This helps with heat and containment.
The Chicks Have Arrived!
It’s time, your chicks have just arrived in the mail, or you have brought them home from the store. The first thing you want to do is bring the box with the chicks into the pen. Be sure other animals like cats do not have access to this pen.
Now, open the lid carefully, and one by one, take the chicks out, dip their beaks in the water, and then set them by the feed. Do this until you have gone through all of the chicks, and then remove the box from the pen.
Turn on your heat lamp if the temp is below 65° and leave it on until the chicks are a couple of months old or the temperature has increased. Sometimes it can be a daily temperature check where your mornings are cool, so you turn it on, and then by afternoon, you turn it off.
A good way to tell if they still need the heat lamp is if they are huddled under it. If they start sleeping away from it, they are warm, and you can unplug the heat lamp.
Watching Your Chicks Grown
Once your chicks are running all over the pen, you now need to maintain and watch them grow.
Keep their feed and water-filled, letting them eat and drink as much as they need. Also, keep their pen clean. When the straw looks matted, and you can hardly see the gold strands, then it is time to change the bedding. Changing it often will keep the smell down also. There isn’t a lot else to it.
Remember, if you have kids and they would like to hold one, that’s okay. Just remember to hold one for a short time and then let it back down with the rest so the chick can keep warm.
Don’t forget to check on them each day and watch them run around and play. It’s good for the soul.
Note: You will have times when you lose a chick. It’s hard, but just remove and dispose of it as quickly as you can.
From here, simply watch them grow and expand their pen as needed. Once the chicks get to be around 5 months old, we turn them in with the last years’ chicks, now chickens.
To help with pecking orders, if you free-range, introduce them outside first so they can adapt, but be sure to lock them in at night to keep the predators away.
Enjoy your fresh eggs in about 20 weeks.
That’s it from the farm. Until next time, remember to stay healthy and free!