Prior to Arrival of Chicks: The chicks will need a warm, dry, safe environment. It should cleaned and disinfected if previously used as poultry housing.
Feed: Baby chickens, ducklings, and goslings should be started on a commercial chick starter. Turkeys, guineas, peafowl, pheasants, ornamentals, chukars, and quail need to be started on a 28% gamebird starter feed.
Water: Chicks need fresh clean water. One gallon for every 50 chicks will do. We recommend using electrolytes (available at your local feed store) in the water daily for the first two weeks. Dip the beak of each chick in water to teach it how to drink right away. Ducklings, especially Mallards, dehydrate much sooner than other baby poultry. To prevent over consumption of water which results in water logging and death, provide access to readily available water for about 15 minutes, remove the water for 10 or 15 minutes and then, allow them to have water again. Do this two or three times and the ducklings will adjust to proper water consumption. For turkey poults and peachicks put marbles in the water to help them find the water.
Heat: The chicks need to be at 95 degrees for their first week and five degrees less each week. I recommend putting a thermometer at floor level so that you can monitor this. Heat lamps are great for providing adequate heat. Be sure to turn heat lamps on before picking up the chicks from the post office so that their pen is warm when they arrive.
Spacing: Chicks need about one square foot per chick. Chicks will locate where they are most comfortable. If they are comfortable they will be spread out in the available brooding area. If they are too cold, they will hover or crowd under the heat source. If they are too hot they will try to move away from the heat source and will pant in an effort to cool themselves. If there is a draft, they will crowd away from the draft.
Ventilation: Chicks need to not have a draft. They cannot have blowing air in their pen. They will need more and more fresh air ventilation as they get older.
Bedding: We recommend pine shavings for bedding. For the first three days use paper towel so that the chicks do not eat the bedding. Always keep the bedding clean and dry. Remove wet litter as soon as possible.
Egg Layers: We have a specific article on Egg Layer hens not laying eggs. Expect pullets to start laying at around five months of age. Hens lay best during their first two years. All breeds have different laying abilities. In general our Utility breeds will lay best. Our Heritage breeds are still great layers but a little fewer than the Utility. The Hens will lay eggs even without a rooster around. If an egg is fresh it will sink if placed in a bowl of water. If it is old it has more air in it so it would float. For all of our chicken breeds red ear lobes ( piece of skin on the face) means the hen will lay brown eggs. For white ear lobes the hen will lay white eggs. For layers we do offer special dark brown egg layers: Cuckoo Marans and Welsummers. We also offer Green Egg Layers.
Health: All birds molt. Molting is a natural process of the bird shedding its current feathers, growing new feathers, stop laying and start preparing their body for the next season. Chickens molt at about 18 months of age and will take 2-4 months. Each type of birds molt occurs at different ages and lasts different lengths of time.
Life Expectancy: Chickens can live up to 10-15 years.
Breeding: Chickens need one rooster for every 8-12 hens.
I have one chick that is much smaller than all the others. Is there anything I can do? We do strive to not include smaller chicks but occasionally it does happen. There is not much you can do to make it become a normal sized chicken. It may either be that we included a bantam or a runt chicken by mistake.
Predators: We have an entire article just on poultry predators.