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Raising chicks can be a rewarding experience in your homesteading journey, but it requires careful attention and proper care to ensure their health and well-being. Warning: Chicken Math is a thing, and Highly Addictive in the best way!

rhode island red chick

1. Preparation: Before bringing chicks home to your house, homestead, or farm, make sure you have a brooder set up. A brooder is a warm, safe space where chicks can live comfortably. It should have a brooder plate, bedding (preferably paper towel or puppy pad instead of wood chips or straw for the first week) , food and water containers, and enough space for the chicks to move around. The spot should be draft-free with about 7-10 square inches for each chick to the age of one week. For the next 5 weeks of growth, each bird will need .75 square foot of space. Make sure water containers are not too big as the chicks can drown. Trick is put some marbles or rocks in the dish to fill the space.

Brooder for chicks on the homestead

2. Temperature: Chicks need a warm environment to thrive. Keep the brooder temperature around 35 degrees Celsius for the first week, then decrease it by 5 degrees each week until they are fully feathered. Dont drop below 20c until they are fully feathered. They still need to be a climatized to outside temperatures before heading into an outdoor coop.

3. Food and Water: Provide chicks with a balanced chick starter feed and fresh water at all times. Make sure the feed is specifically formulated for chicks to meet their nutritional needs. We carry all your feed needs from Chick Starter, Grower and Layer here at the Healing Homestead Store.

4. Health: Monitor the chicks for any signs of illness or distress. Keep the brooder clean and dry to prevent diseases. Check out this 5 Signs to Watch for Healthy Happy Chickens.

5. Socialization: Chicks are social animals and benefit from interaction with their flock mates. This is why the min. number of chicks to start with is 6. That way if you have an unfortunate loss, you still have enough chicks that can thrive together. Spend time observing and handling the chicks to help them become comfortable around humans. Always remember to wash your hands well afterwards.

6. Growth: As the chicks grow, they will need more space and eventually transition to a coop. Check our post on How to raise chickens in a coop. Baby chicks need 7-10 sq inches of space for the first 1 wk. after that .75 square feet of floor space per chick during the next 3wks.

7. Integration: When the chicks are old enough, introduce them to the rest of your flock gradually to prevent aggression and establish a pecking order. This should only be done when chickens reach the same body size as the older birds to minimize bullying and smaller birds being a target. Usually at 16-20wks. depending on breed.

Remember, raising chicks requires commitment and attention to detail. By following these guidelines, you can successfully raise healthy and happy chicks.

Backyard Flock Resource

Raising chickens in Alberta : a guide for small flock owners

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