Arriving Home with Your Chicks Day old chicks require a temperature of about 90-95 degrees. Reduce the temperature 5-7 degrees per week until you reach 65-70 degrees.
A thermometer is helpful. However, it is important to watch your chicks. If they all crowd tightly under their heat source, they are probably too cold.
If they avoid the heat source, stay to the sides of the brooding area or pant, they are too warm. The brooder should be placed indoors or in a heated barn or garage.
However, I strongly encourage you to keep the chicks indoors where they are under your watchful eye. At this age, anything could happen and they are extremely vulnerable to predators.
Chick Behavior Are they too hot or cold? Are they cheeping excessively? Are they alert? Do they seem lethargic? Are they crowding under the heat lamp because they are cold? Are they panting or gasping for breath?
Condition of Litter Fresh shavings should be added daily and brooder should be cleaned out at least once per week. If a strong odor of ammonia is present, bedding should be changed.
Water Besides heat, the next most important thing for your chicks is water. A small water container specific for small chicks is crucial. If a water source is too large, chicks can fall in and drown. Make sure water is fresh and clean at all times. Chicks 1 day to 1 week should be given a fresh supply of vitamin and Electrolytes daily. Water should be room temperature, not cold. In addition to Electrolyte water, offer clear water with Apple Cider Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is a great thing to add to your chicken's water. Adding this mild acid to the water helps alleviate heat stress. It has also been shown to have beneficial influence against heart attacks, ascites, sudden death syndrome, and digestive tract illnesses. There is also belief it has a positive effect on feed digestion.
Adding garlic to the water helps your chickens fight disease and overall infections. One clove cut lengthwise per 5 gallons of fresh drinking water. Allow it sit overnight and let the allicin in the garlic release into the water. Garlic has been used in ancient medicine as an antibiotic, antimicrobial treatment.
If pasting appears around vent, CAREFULLY remove paste build up with a warm, wet cloth, making sure that vent is wiped clean. After 1 week, offer Vitamin and Electrolytes one day per week until age 7 weeks and discontinue. (Electrolyte water should be offered during extremely hot weather in addition to plain water) Once pullets are moved to coop, feeders and water buckets should be hung as to keep scratch and droppings from polluting food and water.
Feed Chicks are started on an organic chick starter food. If you chose to use a medicated feed, then chicks should be fed this medicated feed until 7 weeks of age. After 7 weeks, they can be put on an un-medicated grower feed until 16 weeks.
At 17 weeks, pullets should be placed on a diet consisting of scratch grains and complete layer feed. DO NOT feed your chicks any treats (mealworms, nuts, etc.) until at least 3 weeks of age. This is just junk food for chickens at this age. Once they have surpassed the 6 week mark, it is perfectly fine to shake a bag of marshmallows or mealworms to train them to come to their coop at night, or to just get them to come to their Mama hen (you) but only in very small amounts.
Chicks around 4 weeks are old enough to be offered chopped spinach, arugula, pomegranate seeds (not the peel) mashed potatoes, cantaloupe on the rind, and their very favorite: watermelon on the rind. Be careful with table scraps, as chickens that are fat, tend to lay very large eggs; which could cause a chicken to become “egg bound.” This can be very painful and cause a hen to die.
When storing feed, always use an airtight container with a snug fitting lid. Food that is contaminated by rodents will cause serious illness or death to your flock. Take the extra step to purchase a metal can with lid- it will last for years and is absolutely rodent proof.