When I started my flock almost 5 years ago, I made the decision to start with 2-3 day old chicks, and I’m so glad I did. Since then, I’ve gotten two more batches of chicks and much prefer them over buying larger hens. In my last post, I briefly talked about the benefits of getting chicks, but to sum it up: they really get to know you, can be socialized with people very easily and they are just too stinking adorable to pass up.

My very first flock of chicks!

If you’re leaning towards getting chicks or have already decided to start your flock with chicks, here is what you need to know:

Where To Buy

There are several places to purchase chicks, depending on where you live and what breeds you want

  • Local hardware store or garden center: I always purchase mine from Rooster Hardware in Dallas.
  • Breeders in your area: you can google to find out where these are, or search to see if there is a local Facebook group you can purchase on.
  • Mypetchicken.com: this sounds a little sketch, but works great if you want rare breeds or don’t have any local places to buy from. If you are going to be shipping your chicks in, you have to order at least 3. They will ship the chicks just after they are born and will express ship them to your nearby post office!

What You Need

Chicks will have to stay in your house for 4-6 weeks (longer if it is extremely hot or cold outside).

  • Brooder (container)

    • This can be a cardboard box, plastic box, trunk, large water trough, really anything!
    • You’ll want it to have high walls though so that once they start developing their wings, they can’t fly out.
    • It will also need to be big enough for them to move around as they get older, so keep that in mind when selecting the size.
    • I recommend cleaning this out every week. It will start to smell after that!
  • Heat lamp
    • They will need to have a heat lamp on them until they are 4-5 weeks old.
    • Place the heat lamp on one side of the brooder, away from their food and water. If the chicks are huddling under the heat lamp, then they are too cold and you need to position it closer to them. If the chicks are frequently on the opposite side of the brooder, they are too hot and you need to move the heat lamp further away from them.
  • Shaving
    • Pine straw or wood chips
    • Try to make sure whatever you use is large enough so that they can’t try to eat it! Think just like you would for a child.
  • Food
  • Water
    • Keep a clean water source at all times! Usually we have to change ours out twice a day
    • You can put electrolytes in their water also for the first few weeks to ensure they are staying hydrated and healthy.

General Care

  • Pasty Butt
    • For the first several weeks, you will need to DAILY check their little butts to make sure they don’t have pasty butt. This is a condition when the poop builds up on their vent and dries onto it, essentially clogging them up. This can kill your chicks and is very serious!
    • In order to rid the chick of this, get a warm, wet paper towel and gently clean off the butt until the vent is clean again.
  • Sleeping
    • Just like babies, little chicks sleep A LOT. Many times they will simply fall asleep right where they are and collapse over. It looks like they just died, but never fear, they usually pop right back up after a little cat nap.
    • If you’re worried about them, you can simply rub on their side or their head while they are down, just to make sure they are in fact, alive. After a few days, you’ll be able to tell when they are just sleeping!
  • Handling
    • Handle your chicks every day! Cuddle them, pet them, just let them sit in your lap.
    • The more you handle them when they are young, the more friendly they will be when they are older.
    • I promise you, this will be worth it! You don’t want hens that just run away from you whenever you walk into the back yard!
    • BONUS: Holding baby chicks is extremely precious and why wouldn’t you want to do that?!

Enjoy those little baby chicks. They grow up so fast!