Sunday, November 05, 2017 by Michelle Simmons
Baby chicks are adorable, delicate, and are actually simple to raise. If you have an outdoor space and live in an area where raising chickens is allowed, you are one step closer to raising them. Here are some tips on how to raise baby chicks without spending so much money.
One of the few things you need in order to raise baby chicks is a brooder. A brooder is a man-made home for baby chicks that keeps them warm and protects them as they grow. The kind of brooder you need depends on whether you plan to raise chickens for meat multiple times a year or if you plan to raise laying hens. For the former, a permanent brooder is a good investment, but if you are on a budget you can build your own brooder.
Usually, baby chicks stay underneath their mother hen to stay warm. But since you will raise them, you need to provide them with heat. The cheapest way to do this is by using a standard heat lamp and a red bulb. A red bulb is better than a white one because they help chicks fall asleep faster and of better quality. However, extra caution is needed when using them as they are easily combustible. The heat source should also not be too near to the chicks and must be hanged in a way that the chicks can get away from it if it gets too warm for them.
A cheap digital thermometer is recommended. There are other ways to determine if the temperature is right. You can tell if the chicks are cold and distressed if they are huddled together and are noisy. They are too hot if they are spread far apart, are lethargic, and are panting. The temperature is right if they are active, randomly spread apart, and making happy little peeping noises.
The chicks also need bedding. You can use wood shavings, straw, or paper towels as long as they are not artificially scented. For food and water containers, there are relatively inexpensive ones that cost less than $5. Make sure to get a water container that is small enough for them to drink out of but not fall in and drown.
For feeding the baby chicks, make sure to use a GMO-free feed which is a combination of low-quality chicken feed and expensive organic feed. You can mix the feed with pellets and supplement the diet with fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, remember to give a them grit to help them with digestion. Freeing them from their brooder is another way to feed them. They will pick up bugs and weeds that are essential for their diet.
A great way to prevent illness in your chicks is to add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a gallon of water or add probiotics to their water. One of the health issues you may encounter with your chicks is coccidiosis which is a parasite that damages the gut wall of chickens. One symptom of coccidiosis is blood in their stool.
Another health issue is a pasty butt which can be seen when their vent gets sealed shut with feces. If their vent gets clogged, the waste goes back up in their system and they cannot pass their waste. You have to check every chick’s bottom twice a day during their first week or two in your home. You will need to carefully remove the clump from their bottoms; simply pulling on the clump can actually disembowel the chicks. (Related: How Many Chicks Do I Need to have Backyard Chickens?)
Find out more about raising chickens at Homesteading.news.