Damson Cottage Garden

Looking after chicks at home

Chicks hatch with an amazing instinct to find their food and water bowls and shelter somewhere warm and dry. They don’t need to be taught – they just know what to do! Absolutely incredible.

After your eggs hatch it’s best to keep the chicks in the incubator for 12-24 hours to dry off and start to look fluffy and cute! They don’t need food or water for this period. When your chicks are fluffy you can transfer them to a cage with a heat lamp or brooder to keep warm. The chick’s new home will need the following components:

Cage – I bought a large indoor rabbit cage to keep our chicks in. When they are small they live in this cage in the bathroom! The plastic tray is ideal as it has deep sides to stop drafts and the chicks kicking too many wood shavings onto our bathroom floor! When we don’t have chicks I use the plastic tray in the chicken run to stop the chickens spreading their food over the floor of the run.

Our chick cage

Flooring – we use snowflake soft chip (a low dust, fine wood chipping that is very absorbent and makes great compost). Don’t use newspaper to line the cage as it will become slippy and not give the chicks adequate grip for their little legs to develop properly.

Heat source – We have a brooder from Brinsea which keeps the little chicks nice and snug. I did think of making some kind of heat lamp, but was worried about getting the correct temperature and starting a fire!

Brinsea brooder

Water –  I read that little chicks can drown in small amounts of water so I put some pebbles in a pan of boiling water for a few minuets to sterilise them, before cooling them and using them to fill a water dish. The chicks then drink from between the gaps in the pebbles. As the chicks get older, take out some of the pebbled so there is more water available to them.

Food – we buy chick crumb from our local pet shop. It is to be used until the chicks reach 8 weeks old, then our chicks will be given the same food as our fully grown hens. Give them as much food as they want and make sure it’s checked twice a day to make sure it’s not running low.

6 week old light sussex bantam

Keep an eye on your chickens bums to make sure they’re not getting dirty. Generally there will be no problems, but we had one chick who looked like she was getting ‘plugged up’ so we cleaned her off with tepid warm water. It’s really important to do this as the chicks can die if their digestive system becomes blocked like this.

Depending on the time of year, your chicks will be ready to go and live outside at 8- 10 weeks, even earlier if you live somewhere warm. As the chicks will still be so much smaller than your big hens, it’s important to keep them separated until they are all the same size. Our chicks will go into a small run, inside our chicken run – so that all of our fowl can get used to each other. We can’t wait to have our bathroom back!

6 week old light sussex bantam

 Look at our lovely chicks, they are growing so fast! Jane

3 Responses to Looking after chicks at home

  1. Claire says:

    They are soooooooooooooooo cute – I WANT ONE!!!!!!!

  2. Phil says:

    They are coming along nicely

    • admin says:

      They are, i’m so proud! Jane

Inspiration to make your garden a useful, beautiful place you love