The Essential Baby Chick Care Manual: A Week-by-Week Guide

Welcome to the world of raising baby chicks! As cute and fluffy as they may be, these little babies require a lot of care and attention to thrive. If you’re a first-time chick parent, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our essential baby chick care manual. We’ll go over all the basics of caring for your chicks week by week, from hatching to adulthood.

Related Post: 5 Tips For Raising Baby Chicks

How to Prepare for Baby Chicks

Before bringing home your adorable baby chicks, it’s important to make sure you have everything prepared to give them the best start in life. Here’s a checklist of items you’ll need to get before getting your baby chicks: 

1. Brooder

A brooder is like a warm, cozy nursery for your chicks. A draft-free box or fenced enclosure should provide enough space for the chicks to move around comfortably. 

2. Heat Lamp

Chicks need to be kept warm, especially during their first few weeks of life. A heat lamp will provide the necessary warmth to mimic their natural environment. 

3. Bedding

Choose a soft, absorbent bedding material for the brooder, such as pine shavings or straw. This will help keep the chicks clean and comfortable. 

4. Feeder and Waterer

Chicks need access to food and water at all times. Invest in a small feeder and waterer that are appropriate for their size and easy to clean. 

5. Chick Starter Feed

Chicks require a specialized feed high in protein and formulated specifically for their needs. Look for a premium-quality chick starter feed that meets their nutritional requirements. 

6. Thermometer

It’s crucial to monitor the temperature in the brooder to ensure it stays within the recommended range for chicks. A thermometer will help you keep track of the temperature and make adjustments as needed. 

7. Medications

Consult with a poultry veterinarian or knowledgeable breeder to determine if any vaccinations or medications are necessary for your chicks.

Remember, proper preparation is the key to giving your chicks the best start and setting them up for a healthy future.


Week-by-Week Care Guide: The First Four Weeks

These first few weeks are crucial for the development of your baby chicks.


Week 1 of Chick Development 

During their first week, your chicks will be adjusting to their new environment. Make sure the brooder is set up properly with a heat lamp to maintain a temperature of around 95 degrees Fahrenheit

Chicks will need access to chick starter feed and fresh water at all times and may need you to guide them to the food or water the first time. It’s important to closely monitor their health and behavior during this week, but they will likely sleep a lot.

Fun Fact: Did you know that chicks can start vocalizing and communicating with each other as early as their first week? It’s fascinating to observe their social behaviors developing!


Week 2 of Chick Development

By week two, your chicks should be getting more active and growing quickly. Adjust the temperature in the brooder to around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide them with plenty of space to move around and continue to offer them fresh food and water as well as clean their cage every day. You might notice that they are starting to develop their wing feathers, which is an exciting milestone! Interact with them to help them get socialized.


Week 3 of Chick Development 

As your chicks enter week three, they should be getting stronger and more independent. Gradually decrease the temperature in the brooder to around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You can introduce some treats like fresh greens to their diet, but continue to prioritize their chick starter feed. Keep an eye on their feathers as they continue to grow, and make sure their brooder is kept clean so they don’t get sick.


Week 4 of Chick Development 

By their fourth week, your chicks should be fully feathered and ready for a slightly cooler environment. Lower the brooder temperature to around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They will still be growing rapidly, so make sure to provide plenty of food and water. This is also a good time to start introducing grit to their diet to help with digestion.


Week-by-Week Care Guide: Weeks 5 and 6

By this time, your chicks should be growing rapidly and becoming more independent. Here’s what you can expect during these weeks and how to care for your little ones:


Week 5 of Chick Development 

At this stage, your chicks will continue to feather out, and their adult feathers will start to replace their fluffy down. You might notice them getting more adventurous and exploring their surroundings. They do not likely need a heat lamp as long as their environment doesn’t drop below about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide plenty of space for them to exercise and stretch their wings, and even let them have outside time. Continue offering a balanced diet of chick starter feed and fresh water.


Week 6 of Chick Development 

By now, your chicks should have almost fully developed adult feathers and resemble their future selves more. They will become more active and playful, engaging in social interaction with their flockmates. Keep offering a variety of food and fresh water to meet their nutritional needs. They may be ready to move to an outdoor coop between 6 to 8 weeks old once the temperature outside stays in the 50s or higher.

Related Post: From Chick to Hen: When and How to Switch Up Feed

Chick Feed in Springfield, MO

SoMo Farm and Ranch carries spring chicks as well as chick supplies. Have more questions? Visit our store in Springfield, MO, contact us, or call (417) 865-0312. We’re happy to help in any way we can!