How to Get Started Raising Chicks

Starting Materials:
  • Fountains: 1 water fountain of 5 litre capacity for every 25 chicks, poults, ducklings or goslings.
  • Feeders: 1 metre of feeder space per 75 chicks or poults, 1 metre per 50 ducklings or goslings.
  • Heat Lamps: 1 per 50 chicks or 1 per 40 poults and 1 per 30 ducklings or goslings.
  • Litter (Bedding): wood shavings, chopped straw or sawdust are best.
  1. The spot should be draft-free with about 7-10 square inches for each chick to the age of one week. For the next 5 weeks of growth, each bird will need .75 square foot of space.
  2. At least 2 days before the newly hatched birds arrive, clean and disinfect the floors and walls of the pen. The floor should be covered with a dry absorbent litter about 3 inches deep. Wood shavings or rice hulls work well, and peat moss or straw may also be used.
  3. Newspapers are not recommended because they become slick when wet and might lead to leg problems for the birds. Keep litter in good condition by removing wet spots and caked material.
  4. For maximum chick comfort and minimum fire risk, hang brooders or heat lamps about 15 inches above the litter. Then, place an 18-inch cardboard ring around the brooding area. This will keep very young chicks near the heat lamp, food and water, and will keep them from piling on top of each other to keep warm. It is a good practice to fill the waterers before the poultry arrive, so the water will be at room temperature. Water is very important since chicks can easily become dehydrated. Adding vitamins and electrolytes to the water and dipping each chick's beak to encourage drinking can be a big help. Adding about 4 teaspoons of sugar to each gallon of water helps provide added energy.
  5. Before chicks arrive, make sure the brooding area is warm and should be kept at about 32 degrees Celsius for the first week. Use a heat lamp 50 cm (20") above the birds. Decrease the temperature 3 degrees Celsius per week until the birds are feathered. After that, ensure that the temperature does not drop below 20 degrees Celsius. Adjust the temperature by raising the heat lamps.
  6. It is good practice to provide additional feed in egg trays to make it easy for the young birds to locate feed and begin eating.