Getting Prepared for Chicks, The Arrival of Your New Flock 

Woman Holding Newborn Chick

Prepared for Chicks Arrival Day

Time to start preparing for the arrival of your newborn chicks, your baby chicks will arrive today and just like any other newborn baby, chicks are amazingly cute and adorable… and they're also a handful!

When the baby chick's first arrive at your home they could be a bit stressed so it's important to be properly prepared for your chick's arrival.

Gently remove each baby chick from the shipping container, one at a time, and gently dip their beaks in water as you set them into the brooder so they know where to go to drink. Then place them under the warmed up area of the brooder container, close to the food you you prepared for chicks arrival. 

Get prepared for chicks by following a few simple rules;

Let them get used to their new home. They should start feeling at home fairly quickly.

Watch the babies carefully for the first hour or so to be sure they are finding the water and beginning to eat. We can't stress enough that you be prepared for chicks prior to their arrival. 

The bedding on the floor of the brooder container should be covered with several layers of burlap material, paper towels or other non-slick material for the first three or four days. 

This will prevent the baby chicks from eating the bedding, reduce the possibility of damage to their little legs and provide for easy access to their feed and grit which you will sprinkle on top of the covering.

Scatter lots of baby chick feed and baby chick grit on the covering and fill the feeders.

Remove a layer of the bedding cover every day, and by the time the last layer is gone, the baby chicks will have found their feeders.

Plan to check on your baby chicks at least five times a day (every 2-3 hours) during the first couple of weeks of their life.

You need to check the feeders, waterers and the temperature each time. Always keep fresh water in the chicken brooder and never let it run out. Clean the waterers and feeders as needed.

Use one waterer for every six baby chicks and enough feeders to allow all your baby chicks to eat at the same time.

Baby chicks won't travel too far to find food and water. Make sure to set up your feeders and waterers so baby chicks will not have to walk much more than 6-8 feet to find them.

Brooding Temperatures

Being prepared for chicks by maintaining proper temperature in the chicken brooder container is critical in the early days and weeks of the baby chicks’ lives.

The day-old chick's temperature is about 3° F below that of an adult chicken. Its body temperature starts rising at about 4 days of age and reaches its maximum at 10 days. The chick needs time to develop its internal temperature control. 

As long as the temperature of their environment is kept near 70° F. Chicks will maintain their own body temperatures beginning at around 5 weeks of age.

Adjusting Temperature

When your family is raising brand new baby chicks the temperature in the brooder should be 95° F and kept at this temperature throughout the first week. 

If the chicks get too hot they will spread out toward the edges of the brooder container and will be panting. If they are too cold they will cluster together directly beneath the heat lamp. The ideal situation is to have a small empty area just under the lamp.

As baby chicks grow older, their fine, downy coat is replaced with feathers, and the temperature inside the brooder must be reduced accordingly.

Drop the temperature 5° F a week until you reach the surrounding outside temperature or no less than 60° F.

So for the first week, keep the temperature at 95° F., the second week, 90° F., the third week, 85° F., and so on. 

To accomplish this temperature reduction you simply raise the height of the heat lamp every week so the temperature on the thermometer is reduced by 5° F. 

Throughout the first four weeks or so, as you follow this temperature reduction schedule, watch for signs like panting or huddling that indicate you may need to flex a little on the weekly temperature adjustments. Adjust as necessary to maintain your baby chicks’ comfort and health. 

Being prepared for chicks means knowing what to look for; 

If the chicks cluster together under the lamp, they're most likely too cold, so increase the temperature a little bit by lowering the heat lamp down.

If they're scattered to the outside edges of the brooder, they're likely too hot, so decrease the temperature a bit by raising the heat lamp up. 

A Few Words about Being Prepared for Chick Comfort

Listening to your chicks talk is one of the best ways to assess the comfort level of your baby chicks.

The sound chicks make is best described as "cheep", when they're communicating their feelings, they're "cheeping".

Contented chicks are fairly quiet and are spread about the brooder container happily eating, drinking, playing and sleeping.

If your chicks are cheeping loudly and continuously, something is wrong. They might be too cold.

If they are against the brooder walls all spread out and panting, they are too hot.

When content; properly fed, supplied with warmth, comfortable, safe and happy; baby chicks speak in a low, contented ‘cheep’.

If your baby chicks are uncomfortable due to damp bedding, temperature, or hunger and thirst they'll emit a rapid and high-pitched cheeping sound. Always examine the brooder when your chicks become noisy like this.

By closely watching the behavior of your baby chicks, by listening very carefully to their chick talk, and by keeping a close watch on brooder's temperature, you will be providing the healthy environment that your baby chick's need to thrive.

Draft Free Ventilation

The brooder must be well ventilated so baby chicks have fresh air.  Baby chicks kept in a poorly ventilated brooder will not eat or drink normally. This can negatively affect their growth.

The brooder must be kept free from drafts. Drafts can cause respiratory disease in baby chicks.

The brooding area must be kept dry and clean. Wet bedding invites disease so remove wet or caked bedding. 

Proper ventilation will help keep the brooder and bedding dry and reduce the concentration of ammonia, which will help prevent disease.

Proper ventilation, dryness, clean water, and a well-balanced feed program will keep your baby chicks healthy and happy.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to being prepared for chicks is being ready to give your baby chicks lots of attention and love.

You and your family will tremendously enjoy spending time watching and interacting with your baby chicks and the chicks will be more likely to bond with your family and become more like family pets as you spend time with them.

Just be careful not to handle them too much, especially when they’re young as it can be stressful for them and may affect their health.

When your baby chicks begin to develop feathers they can be the most fun to play with because they are able to fly a little bit. They will perch on your finger and fly around the area if you let them.

If you examine your chicks daily and watch their behavior, you can catch illness or other problems like limping or wheezing earlier.

You'll also want to be aware of any social issues. As the little baby chicks establish a pecking order, some of the smaller chicks will probably get picked on. They'll need you to look out for them.

Families raising baby chicks are sometimes concerned about starting with baby chicks because they are so tiny and vulnerable, but most baby chicks are strong and resilient. 

You have every reason to expect your baby chicks to grow and thrive as you provide for their needs. 

Raising your own flock of baby chicks is a wonderfully exciting adventure, one that you and your family will greatly enjoy!

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