When you bring baby chicks home, there are a few steps you will need to take to prepare for their new home.
This post will tell you how to get baby chicks, how to prepare for them, andwhat to expect during the first 24 hours. Prepare yourself. Cuteness overload ahead.
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If you're wondering what its like to bring baby chicks home, this post will explain everything you need to know from the items you will need to what to expect the first 24 hours!
My only experience with chicken throughout my past 39 years on earth has basically involved cooking or eating it. I have never even held one, but yesterday we welcomed 23 baby chicks into our home (well, our greenhouse). Let me tell you a bit about getting baby chicks and everything you need to know for that first day.
First off, where do get baby chicks?
There are a few different options:
- In the spring, farm supply stores typically have loads of baby chicks. PROS: If you only want to get a few, this is a great option as they typically have different varieties available throughout the season. CONS: The farm stores get them from hatcheries and you often don't know much about their origin.
- You can always find baby chicks on Craigslist. It wasn't until I moved out to a rural property that I found the farm + garden section on Craigslist. Now I find myself peeking at that section at least once a week wondering "Who is this person I've become? Since when did I think used feed troughs and empty nursery pots were a great deal?" PROS: I'm not actually a fan of this route because CONS: you really don't have much control over who you're dealing with, availability, quality, etc.
- You can buy them direct from a hatchery. This is exactly what I did and I was thrilled with the purchase.
Buying baby chicks from a hatchery:
While I was researching, I was planning on just buying my chicks from a local organic nursery who also sold baby chicks in the spring. Their site didn't say what hatchery they used, but they described it as:
Since 2009 we’ve worked with several different hatcheries, our favorite being a company that has been responsibly breeding and shipping chicks for over 80 years. In our experience, we found them to have the most humane transparent practices with male chicks, including creative ways to home them and putting those they can't to sleep. They provide humane, heat-packed, thoughtfully spaced travel arrangements and have high, accurate percentage sexing rates. We receive extremely healthy and exuberant chicks with excellent breeding for our customers.
With a little research, I'm 98% confident they order from Cackle Hatchery which is who I ordered from.
PROS: When you buy direct from the hatchery, you know the source and have the most control over when you get your chicks and what varieties you get. This is the most cost effective route if you're buying in bulk. Also, they always throw in a couple extra chicks to account for any accidental deaths during chickens or roosters (I had neither, or at least not yet).
CONS: When you buy from this hatchery, you have to buy at least 3 of each variety. This was perfect for me because I was buying so many chicks, but is not great for anyone who just wants one of each variety. Also, they charge a flat rate for shipping as well as the Marek’s disease virus vaccine. Comparing the cost with the organic farm store, it became cheaper to buy them direct from the hatchery with orders of 9 or more. Otherwise, it was more cost effective to buy them from the farm store.
When to get baby chicks:
Most people get baby chicks in the spring so that by the time they're fully feathered, it's nice and warm outside.
I knew we were moving in on May 3 so I scheduled my order so that they were born on May 3rd. How's that for modern day convenience as well as efficiency? They arrived the very next day.
Yes, baby chicks are hatched, vaccinated, sexed, and then put in a box and dropped in the mail. Crazy, right?
The hatchery gave me a tracking number and I watched them like a hawk (pun intended). I tried to intercept them at the main post office but they had already gone out with the carrier, so they let the carrier know I'd be at the house waiting.
What you must do when you bring chicks home:
- You must have your chick brooder already set up. More on that to come... Do not bring your chicks home and then realize you need a place to put them.
- One at a time, pick each chick up. Check their fuzzy little tooshie for pasty butt. None of mine had it when I took them out of the box, but its important to check.
- Next, stick their beak in the water so they know its there. If you lead a horse to water, you can't make him drink... but if you lead a baby chick to water, not only will she drink but she'll be able to find it again when she's thirsty!
- Baby chicks need to be warm, so some kind of heating source is necessary. I used a heat lamp, but there are other things like heating plates and even make shift ideas like heating pads wrapped up in towels and plastic to provide extra warmth. I'll explain much more about this when I talk about my brooder situation.
What to feed baby chicks:
Make sure you have already purchased chick food (my little ladies get the organic chick starter crumble) as well as a feeder.
Keep in mind that once they hatch and are shipped off, they're basically living off the reserves they're born with and arrive thirsty, hungry, and oh so sleepy. The cuteness! I can't handle the cuteness!
Overall, the first day with baby chicks is relatively easy.
- Make sure they don't get lost in the mail if ordering. Basically ensure they get home safely.
- Check their butts.
- Give them water.
- Give them food.
- Give them shelter.
No different than a newborn baby, right?
This post was originally written in May 2017 and has been updated for your reading pleasure.
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