If you have baby chicks you may be wondering what to feed baby chickens after hatching.
Caring for newborn kids is fun and risky—so is caring for newly hatched chicks.
We’ve all been there—studied the cycle of eggs before they hatch.
But, what happens when they hatch? How do you take care of them?
Below is a quick run-through of how you can tend after baby chickens after they’ve come out of their shell.
For more chicken posts, check out:
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- Heritage chicken breeds
What To Feed Baby Chickens After Hatching
As I mentioned earlier, taking care of newly hatched chicks feels like taking care of kids, but this time, kids can do it.
In light of this, the first thing you want to do is to prepare for their arrival.
So, a great way to start is to prepare a brooder.
Used to the heat from a broody hen, the young chicks might be too cold out in the real world.
This is why you should start your journey with a brooder.
Setting up a brooder
A brooder is best set 48 hours before the chicks hatch.
To know this, you can observe the temperature of the eggs.
When the eggs register a temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it is expected to hatch within a week—a perfect time for you to start preparing the brooder.
The ideal brooder should keep these young birds dry and warm.
The usual things you will expect to see in a brooder would include a heat lamp, a surface filled with shavings, a cover, food, and water.
Every bird should be allocated 3 to 4 square feet in the brooder.
Heat source is important in a brooder.
For the best results, you should place it in the middle.
Be sure to keep track of the movement of the chicks. If you find them always spending time around the lamp, that’s a sign that they are cold.
If they opt to get away from the lamp, it means that the temperature is too hot.
You can always move the heat source a little bit to make sure they get the perfect heat that they need.
The perfect heat for newly hatched chicks should be around 95 degrees F in the first week.
You can lower this temperature by 5 degrees every week.
Once you get to a temperature of 55 degrees F, you can stop.
To keep the chicks dry and warm, add some wood shavings that go 3 to 4 inches deep to the floor of your brooder.
Be careful in choosing which kind of shavings you use.
Some wood shavings like cedar or the like tend to have a strong smell.
This could lead to other problems for the chicks.
Since the shavings are on the floor, they are expected to be wet by the end of the day.
Make it a habit to change the shavings every day, since the shavings might be the fastest way to spread diseases.
The first layer of the shaving can be made of paper towels, too to avoid them from slipping.
Feeders and Water
There are a lot of beautifully made feeders out there.
But, the thing is, you can skip all these costs and make one on your own—saving you some bucks.
Making your own feeder is quite simple, actually. Y
ou just go get an old box and do some crafty activities, and ta-da!
You just made your own feeder.
It is best to have both low-lying chick feeders and trough feeders—one for when they are young, and one for when they grow a bit.
Keeping a water holder and a water dish in the brooder is important, too.
Just like feeders, you can buy them from your local feed store or make one of your own.
I and most of my friends like to go DIY.
It might not look the best, but it’s cost-effective.
Place 1 quart of room temperature clean water to your water source.
This should be good for 25 chicks.
With your brooder up and running, it’s time to get acquainted with how you can introduce food to your chicks.
It’s no question that chicks need water.
On their first few days, teach them how to drink water.
This way, they will learn how to do it, and eventually, they will be able to do it on their own.
Chickens, even adult chickens need water. They probably even consume more water than they do with feed.
For this reason, it is a good idea to keep fresh water always available in the brooder.
To avoid little chicks from getting ill, it is always encouraged to have enough water supply for them.
While we may think warm water is ideal for the chicks, the best water temperature for them should be room temperature.
You can do this by placing your water source away from your lamp to avoid it getting warm.
Before you go on with introducing feeds to the chicks, you should be sure that they have learned to drink water for themselves.
Drinking water is more important for them than consuming feeds.
The beauty of it is that once healthy chicks learn how to drink water, they would be the ones to teach the other chicks—maybe a weak chick.
Feeds are important for chicks.
You could hit the road to your local feed store or you could make your own feed.
There are a lot of good options for commercially-made feeds.
Whatever choice you make, the important thing here is that they get the essential nutrients they need.
Chicks below 8 or 9 weeks of age need starter feed.
A chick starter feed is usually packed with the nutrients they need to grow healthy.
We don’t want a sick chick, right?
Once the chicks turn 18 weeks old, you can start feeding them with chick crumbs or pellets.
This is in order to keep up with their growing nutrient needs.
Grit and Oyster Shells
Feeding baby chicks grit isn’t necessary when they are already being fed with starter feed.
However, feeding older chicks grit might be necessary when they start consuming other stuff such as chicken scraps.
This is a great way to add grit to their digestive system.
The great thing about chicks who free range is that they can naturally get grit wherever they go.
People have usually mistaken grit and oyster shells for each other.
Unlike what most people think, oyster shells are only needed for mother hens to add more calcium to their diet.
Giving oyster shells to chicks or chickens who do not need it might actually cause more harm to their health than good.
Preparing for the hatching of chicks can be a really great time!
Get the kids to take part in taking care of them, too.
There are a lot of things to learn about chickens.
It is best to read ahead in order for you to have an idea of what kind of life to expect when they hatch.