When you get your chicks home from the post office or feed store, they will need you to provide water, food, and warmth. Like a mother hen, you will care for each chick to make sure they are safe, well-fed, and warm so that they can grow up healthy and strong.
Your chicks will be thirsty! As you place chicks into the brooder, dip each chick’s beak into the water. Make sure they drink. They will tilt their little heads back and smack their beaks. This makes sure they know how to drink, where to drink, and to drink. For the first few days, you can use nutrients or electrolytes in the water if they have been stressed. You can also mix 3 tablespoons of sugar into a quart of water. Use a higher concentration of sugar or electrolytes if they are in particularly bad shape after shipping. After the first 2 or 3 days, switch to raw apple cider vinegar (ACV). Add 1 teaspoon per gallon. This helps to prevent some of the most common brooder diseases by raising the acidity of the water.
Also good to know:
- Do not cook with any nonstick cookware while chicks are in your house. The fumes can kill them.
- Try never to brood a chick alone. Try to get another chick from a farm store or another owner. If you must brood alone, make sure to give the chick a lot of attention. Also, put a stuffed animal into the brooder for it to cuddle for comfort.
- If you have several groups of chickens to tend, care for the youngest group first and work your way to the oldest. Older chickens have developed resistance to bacteria which the chicks are not ready for.
- Chicks are ready to live outside when fully feathered, at about six weeks. If it is warm during the day as well as the night, this can be sooner. If you want to put them outside in the winter, run electricity to the coop and use a contact brooder in the coop (or heat lamp with extra fire precautions.)