Caring for new baby chicks

Your chicks are finally here! How chickciting!

So now what?

You will need a place for them to live until they are ready to enter the next stage of life where they will be going to their grow out coop by 6 weeks of age. In summer months it is possible to move chicks outdoors before 6 weeks, even with out supplemental heat. It just depends on your outdoor temperatures.

Here is some helpful information to get your started with bringing home or hatching new baby chicks. If you need information about health and medical care, please visit our Chicken Clinic.

If you need recommended items to purchase for your chicks including medical kit supplies to be prepared: Chick A Roo shop


Brooder Set Up:

  • Heat Lamp -- Choose a red bulb heat lamp light or a ceramic heat lamp bulb. I personally recommend a ceramic heat lamp bulb over the red bulb. The red bulb is more of a fire hazard and even though the chicks can't see red, they obviously still see because my chicks are still active at night with a red heat lamp as opposed to a ceramic lamp with no light at all. I believe they likely see the way we see infrared.

    ** When installing heat lamp do not have it cover the whole brooder. Only heat one half with lamp and the other end is the shady or cool spot. Chicks need to be able to regulate body temperature by going away from heat source to cool down or they can overheat and die.
  • Brooder Temperature -- Start off a 95°F and go down 5 degrees each week until chicks are 6 weeks. Learn the right way and help avoid mistakes here. At 6 weeks and fully feathered they can go outside. Learn more about when chicks can go outside.
  • Bedding -- Do not use cedar. Options: Pine shavings, straw, puppy pads (until they start to scratch and shred it), clean hay.
  • Adequate ventilation -- Chickens are sensitive to respiratory sensitivity and illnesses. It’s important to keep chicks where there is adequate ventilation and clean, fresh air safe away from fumes or dusty air.
  • Brooder box -- can be made from storage totes or built from chicken safe wood. A lid crafted with chicken wire helps to keep baby chicks in brooder when they start to want to fly. They usually chirp for help to return to brooder when they realize how vulnerable they are after escaping. So if you hear loud chirps. Go check on them.
  • Clean and sterilize brooder before use. Using white vintage and warm water. Plus a final rinse to be safe. Just make sure there is no vinegar smell after dry and before use.


  • Feeders: Store purchased gravity feeders placed on a brick or brick of wood to keep up off of loose bedding that chicks can kick into the feeder and make a mess.
  • Chick feed medicated or unmedicated. - You can ask or research to determine what you'd prefer. Get crumble, not pellet feed, to prevent choking.

    ** You can get AllFlock feed which is good for chicks, hens, pullets, roosters as is doesn't have too high protein or calcium. You would just need to use a food processor or something to turn the pellets into crumble before feeding.
  • Grit - only if you plan on feeding treats such as meal worms or kitchen scraps. Baby chicks do not need treats and it’s recommended to wait until at least 2 weeks anyway. But if you keep the treats to a minimum so they get ample nutrition from their feed it’s ok to start as soon as chicks are brought home (2 days old or older).
  • Treats - Avoid feeding treats such as wild bird feed, peanuts, sunflower seeds that are grey and white stripped, any foods that are unsafe for chickens, greasy foods, sugary foods, starchy foods, or that can be chocking hazards. Stick to treats momma hen would feed or are healthy for them such as bugs, cooked plain oatmeal, chick safe grains.


* Always give baby chicks a great start from stress of relocation and new environment by putting chick safe vitamins in their water. Roster Booster and Save-A-Chick are two we recommend.

You can also make your own if you haven’t picked any up yet.
--Here’s a recipe you can use. I recommend molasses if you have that on hand:
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons molasses OR 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon potassium chloride* (optional)

* Keep water source clean at all times. Set up water higher than loose bedding and use a waterer they won’t stand over and go to the bathroom in. I recommend using a waterer with a water nipple that goes on bottom of any clean, food grade, sterile, plastic container.

Chicks under 1 week are susceptible to dying due to a variety of preventable, treatable, and untreatable conditions. This can be from improper set up of brooder. Stress related and not having adequate vitamins to help overcome. Sickness from unclean water and food source. Birth defects treatable and untreatable. After 1 week surviving chicks are typically considered in the safe zone.

Chicks that die with in 4 days after hatching with out known reason to passing, and treatments have failed, most likely had a birth defect that was untreatable.

Keep in mind while very young chicks under 6 weeks are unlikely to bully or cannibalize each other. However, if not appropriately matched for size and age, the bigger ones are still known to accidentally smother another by sleeping on the other's back or squishing/suffocating them sleeping in a group due to their larger size.

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