Hello! I've had more people asking me then I can count, "how do you take care of baby chicks?" And since its been such a frequent question, I decided to just make a page on how to care for them.
No matter how many times I tell people I cant seem to make them understand, there's no guide set in stone on how to do this, if something goes wrong, its not cause you didn't follow some sort of special hand book, things happen, there's no exact science to it. So with that in mind. Please use my guide as an idea of the basics to taking care of your baby chicks. No person does it exactly the same, everyone finds a way that works best for them.
Some things you need:
Red Heat Lamp
Dome Lamp with Clamp
Chick Feed (Starter / Grower)
Water container (No drown type)
Food container (Farm n Feed stores have these)
With that said, the most important thing when keeping a chick alive, is a brooder. Now a brooder can be anything, from a plastic storage container, to an entire shed. What a brooder is, is basically a holding pen with high walls, to block out cool drafts and keep the chicks inside, safe and warm. I personally have a shed I use for my brooder.
Lamp and Light photos below. Usually they must be bought separately and assembled.
The next thing you need is a heat lamp. This part is very important in its own way, use a new light every year, to make sure they do not catch fire, and make sure you use a splash proof light that's shaded red. Chicks will peck at each other if you don't use a red light. And some times the pecking can become deadly cause they will litterly eat each other. The light must have a lamp with a clamp (haha that rhymes), so that you can clamp it onto something, in order to keep it up off the ground and away from the chicks. Usually a foot or so from the brooder floor, will give you the right temps for your chicks. A lot of hatcheries will tell you to keep a certain temperature and then reduce it every week. I for one just allow the chicks to move away on their own, my brooder is big enough for them to do that. If they get too hot I will just move the light up some, if they huddle too much together, I will lower it for them. It's something you just have to determine for yourself. I wouldn't even bother trying to keep track of temps.
As you can see in this photo below, the chicks are under a red heat lamp, on pine shavings. Some sleeping, others alert.
The next thing you need is bedding. Chicks need a bedding that will be easy to clean up. Chickens poop a lot, and chicks is no exception. The bedding I like to use most is pine shavings. The shavings will not slide around, which can cause spraddle leg, which is basically caused by a chick's legs sliding apart due to a slippery surface. When this happens the chick's legs will become injured and they will not be able to walk, which can result in death and deformed legs. Pine shavings is also easy to clean, affordable, and has a nice smell that masks the smell of chick poop.
Food and water is very important as well. If you do not have food they will starve to death naturally. Most feed and garden stores will sell medicated chick food in large 50 lb bags. Make sure your chicks always have food inside its feed container, and fresh water in the water container.
And that's pretty much all there is to caring for chicks. Keep them dry, fed, with water, and warm. And before you know it you will have fat healthy chicks that have grown into adult birds.