Learn how to care for chickens after they’ve hatched with our baby chicken care guide, in this post you’ll learn everything you need to prepare for and take care of your baby chicks after they’ve hatched!
What do you do with baby chicks after they hatch? This is the most exciting part of raising chickens. If you’ve incubated chicken eggs or have bought day old chicks then the following information is golden to taking good quality care of your chicks.
I can’t believe how many times I’ve had customers show up to buy my day old chicks completely unprepared with a brooder and clueless about how to care for them after they’ve hatched.
Honestly, there isn’t enough information out there to help people prepare. So to share with my customers and readers I’ve written this post to help you and your chicks survive the “newborn stage” of raising chickens.
When we started raising chickens on our ranch, we were given a flock of beautiful heritage hens as a gift. When I got my HOVA BATOR incubator for my birthday- the perfect gift for a spring birthday!- I was ready to start hatching my own chicks.
This is the incubator that I have, It’s the Genesis Hova Bator. I personally love the huge window option with this particular one.
I’ve learned a lot of things about how to best care for chicks after they’ve hatched, and I’ve had a lot of my homesteading and teacher friends ask me for tips.
So here we go with the ultimate baby chicken care guide to help you all out! It’s my way of showing my love for chickens with the world 😉
BABY CHICKEN CARE GUIDE
I usually hatch about 5 rounds of chicks each season to refresh my flocks, raise point a lay hens and sell day old chicks. I sell heritage breed fertilized eggs to other farmers and share with them the following tips for success. These are just some of the ways you can earn an income from your homestead.
INCUBATOR TO BROODER
Eggs take around 21 days to hatch. I’ve had chicks hatch on day 19 and as late as day 23. This is a good test of patience!
Listen for peeping as a first sign of the hatch. They usually hatch around the same time of day that they went into incubator. Remember that your eggs are on lock down, that includes the chicks as well.
Chicks will survive off their yolk sacs for up to 3 days. I always give my eggs this long to hatch. The late eggs to hatch usually have more of a struggle as the temp and humidity changes with the hatching process and the activity of the hatched chicks.
My advice is to resist the urge to help chicks hatch if they get stuck in the shell. Opening the incubator will cause the egg to almost seal them in making it harder . From my experience, any chick that I have had to help hasn’t survived or has had major problems like a broken neck or splayed legs.
Now is the time to make sure you have your brooder ready to go with adequate bedding, feed and water. Something similar to the set up below. Click on the image for more details regarding this specific brooder available on Amazon.
HOW TO PREPARE A BROODER
There are a lot of options for a chicken brooder. Buy items separately, as a kit, or use what you have and get creative.
We’ve used a large rubbermaid tote and cut a large rectangular hole out of the lid and attached chicken wire. Hose it out and stored all the materials in it and stored it in the barn until the following spring.
I have seen some people use an old playpen for their baby chickens as well. The options are endless and there is a lot of room for creativity. Make sure that your brood box will maintain the right temperature, provide adequate shelter and protection for predators, including toddlers.
You’ll need to make sure that you have the right about of space required for the amount of chicks you have as well.
Here is a general shopping list of supplies.
A heat lamp is a necessity for new chicks. You need to start them out in a brooder that’s about 95 degrees.
A digital thermometer is helpful for knowing the temperature of the brooder.
The chicks will provide a good indication of how they are finding the temperature in the brooder.
If they are in all 4 corners and panting away from the light then they are too hot. If they are clumped together under the lamp, they are too cold.
And if they are moving around as you’d expect them too, then the temperature is just right!
The chicks will always need access to nice clean water to keep up their good health. This waterer seen above is an example of the style that we use in our brooders.
I love this feeder when I have a small hatch of birds. I have a few that I just and screw a mason jar feeder to. The chicks could have a larger feeder too, but I find if I don’t have to check their food as often then I don’t go and check the chicks as often as a should be in the first 6 weeks.
MOVE BABY CHICKEN FROM THE INCUBATOR TO THE BROODER
Once the chicks have all finished hatching, or you’ve reached three days since your first chick hatched it’s time to remove the chicks from the incubator and place them in their new home.
Chicks that have been hatched artificially in an incubator by yourself, or by a farmer, are going to need the TLC that a mother hen would provide for the first 6 weeks or so of life.
This starts by kindly placing them in the brooder with access to food, water, heat and some comfort. You might place feathers or a feather duster in the brooder to mimic a hen.
When you place them in the brooder, you’ll want to show them where the water is by dipping their beaks in the water dish and the food dish.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT BABY CHICKEN FEED
It’s best to start chicks on a medicated chick crumble. Depending on your beliefs you may or may not choose to use a medicated feed. For my laying hens I’ll use a medicated crumble to ensure they get the best start. Especially if I’ve hatched them in the early spring and it’s still wet and damp weather.
When you purchase your feed, by clicking the bag below, or from your farm supplier there are a few things to consider. Make sure you only get enough for the first 6 weeks or so. Don’t buy too much and think you can use it next year or later on, because the protein content will go down and your bag of feed won’t be as nutrient dense unless it’s fresh.
HOW TO MONITOR BABY CHICKEN HEALTH
There are three things you’ll want to monitor and check when it comes to your baby chickens health. Check on your chicks at least twice a day and ensure they have the following.
There shouldn’t be any chicken poop in the water, feed or bedding. Place your waterers on risers so that the water is still reachable but stuff won’t end up in it. A simple 2×4 will work just fine.
Remember to check the thermometer and raise the heat lamp slightly or lower it to adjust the temperature. Do a quick check on the chicks behaviour to see if they are to hot (against the perimeter) or too cold (huddling under the light).
CLEAN & DRY CHICKS
The last thing you want to check is that the chicks are clean and dry. If it’s too hot in the brooder chicks will have the poop stick to their little fluffy bottoms. Make sure that you clean it up before it hardens and possibly blocks off their vent (the hole )
I reccommend sticking the chicks rump in warm water and massage off with paper towel when this happens.
Caring for baby chickens is super exciting and requires some knowledge and attention. But it doesn’t need to get out of hand stressful, just simply check on your chicks and make sure they have the neccesary things to survive and aren’t getting into trouble.
You got this! Enjoy your baby chicks and have fun with them! The more you visit and care for them and handle them the friendlier your hens and roosters will be. (Yes, some may just be Roosters! )
ARE YOU LOOKING TO RAISE CHICKENS FOR EGGS?
More than ever, every homestead should have a set of backyard chickens in their yard. In this post I’ll show you just how to get started raising backyard chickens for the absolute beginner. In just a month, you’ll be collecting eggs daily!
Save time and quickly get your chicken business started! LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO LET THE “TIME THIEF” STEAL YOUR SUCCESS OF RAISING CHICKENS TO MATURITY THAT ARE NOT ONLY HEALTHY AND FRIENDLY BUT ALSO HELPING YOU PAY YOUR BILLS (AND THEIRS!)