Caring for Chicks

Caring for ChicksWe’re urban homesteaders. Or at least working our way there. We have a small garden, a compost pile, and two hens. So when we drove by Southern States (akin to a farmer’s Home Depot) and saw that chick days were coming up we let out a collective, “Awww…”

We decided that we’d at least go see them, since we were scheduled to get six pullets in a few weeks. Did we really need more chickens?

Obviously, we did.

After a few conversations about whether we could handle more chickens and who would be the primary caretaker (me), we decided to do what a friend has dubbed “a calculated impulse purchase.”

Last Monday after we finished with school for the day, we went to Southern States oohed and aahed over all the cute chicks, bought supplies for the chicks new home, and went home to set up.

Setting up the Brooder

We had to clean everything the chicks would be using. The boys helped to wash and dry the tote box that would act as home, line it with newspaper, and then pine shavings while I set up the brooder lamp.

We added water and chick starter feed, and then we were ready!

Caring for Chicks

Caring for Chicks

This is a helpful post on getting started and setting up your chick brooder How to Build a Brooder from Modern Farmer and another from Southern States.

Caring for Chicks - Setting up the Brooder

Bringing Them Home

This was the fun part. They peeped, hopped, and skittered around their new home. I placed them in the brooder one by one, careful to hold them under their feet and cupped around their neck and back. Just this little hold and they become remarkably still.Caring for Chicks

When we put each one in the brooder,we had to dip their beak in the water so they know where to drink. They seemed to learn pretty quickly.

We ended up getting three Red Cross and three Easter Egger chicks. I really wanted Silver-Laced Wyandottes, but they were already gone by the time we got back to Southern States. Chick days are busy days!

Daily Care

Every day we clean and refill their waterer and add food to their feeder. Every couple of days we change the bedding as needed. I made up a chick record keeping chart, so that we could keep track of our chick care together and give the kids some responsibility for the chicks.

IMG_1283For the first few days, we checked the temperature every few hours to make sure we had the heat lamp right. We ended up having to elevate our box to get the right temperature.

It’s been really fun to watch the chicks, name them (from Curious to Brown Sugar), and watch them shed their chick fluff and watch their wings come in. As I’m typing this they’re chirping and chattering away while trying to figure out how to fly out of their brooder. It’s about time for a bigger box!

Caring for Chicks

Maybe you have chicks or are planning on getting some one day, it might be a helpful chart to have. I also made a chicken breed profile page, so that Joey could research (with help) the birds we have.

You can download your own right here:

Chick Care Recordkeeping


I’d love to hear if you have chicks or chickens and what breeds you have.


1 comment… add one

  • Jeanette Ford March 21, 2016, 4:05 am

    Aww like you, 2 years ago I had an impulse to buy chicks. I homeschool and thought this is a great lesson. We started with 12 eventually ended up with 9. Then last year I decided wouldn’t it be fun to hatch some eggs. And then this year I knew I needed more girls to keep my boys happy and did I mention we added ducks. So right now as of this minute we are up to 68 chickens and ducks. 40 of them being baby chicks in my kitchen. Watch out they are addicting! But lots of fun!

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