On Wednesday the 9th, I finally got the phone call from the post office that my baby chicks had arrived!
Preparing for Baby Chicks
We ordered our chicks from McMurray Hatchery at the start of spring and I have been anxiously awaiting their arrival. This is our very first time raising chicks, but with the help of some friends, we gathered everything we needed ahead of time and were prepared for their arrival. The week that we knew the chicks were set to arrive we prepped the brooder with pine shavings, a heat lamp, food, and water.
In preparation for their arrival, I watched a few of Justin Rhodes YouTube videos where he brings home his baby chicks. After watching them, I decided to give my chicks “magic water” for roughly the first week. Magic water has apple cider vinegar, honey, and garlic in it to help boost their immune systems. I also learned that baby chicks can drown in the waters in the brooder, so I added a few stones in there to make sure that if they fell in, they would be in shallow water.
For feed, we decided to use the organic chick starter that is available at our local Theisen’s farm supply store. We ordered about 45 chicks so we will be going through quite a bit of feed. In about a week and a half, we’ve already used almost one full bag. Granted, the starter feed is essentially the only thing they are eating at the moment besides a few handfuls of grass I toss in now that they’re over a week old.
Picking Our Baby Chicks Up from the Post Office
I got a call from our post office early Wednesday morning letting me know our chicks had arrived. We immediately drove there to pick them up. It was simple and easy. McMurray Hatchery makes sure your chicks arrive within their first 72 hours of life, during which they don’t need food or water. However, once they have had food and water for the first time, they can no longer go without it. Once we got home, David and I took each chick and helped it take its first drink and then released it into the brooder. Shelby supervised of course.
Water Set Up
In order to keep their bedding dry, I put together a little “strainer” system. What I love is that any water just falls below into the black feed tub and the chick drag less pine shavings into the water. It helps keep everything a little cleaner. I used some scrap pieces of wood, measured it out for my buck size, and used a few nails and staples to put it all together. For this particular one, I used 1/4 inch hardware cloth.
If I make another “strainer” in the future, I would try 1/2 inch hardware cloth instead. While the 1/4 inch gets the job done, the holes are a little too small for the poop to fall through as your chicks grow. Once a day, I just pull it out and spray it down with the hose, but I think with 1/2 inch hardware cloth it would work even better. As you can see in the picture the chick on day 1 had no problem walking on it and would do just fine with larger square holes in the cloth.
Day One With the Baby Chicks
They seem to like their set up and everyone is thriving. We have only lost one baby chick, so I feel like we are doing pretty good. The only issue we have had to deal with is pasty butt. I simply washed their bottoms off with warm soapy water to help reopen their vent. Next year I learned that you can also use olive oil and then it also works as a preventive treatment to pasty butt. The olive oil helps the poop slide right off their behinds.
They have already doubled in size! Their feathers are coming in and they spend less and less time by the heat lamp. Sometime around the 3 week mark, our plan is to move them outside into our chicken tractor we built earlier this spring.
The chicken tractor we built earlier this spring is what they will live in next. It will only work for a short time, but it will allow us to transition them outside on our small homestead while we prepare a larger chicken tractor that they will spend the rest of the summer in out at our cattle property. You can see the chick tractor that’s waiting for them in some of the pictures below. It is a hoop-style structure made of wood, PVC pipe, hardware cloth, and lots of staples, screws, and zip ties.
Two Week Update on the Baby Chicks
Wow, these guys and gals are growing like crazy! I refill their food and water a couple of times a day. We still have only had one loss! They have completely finished their first 40lb bag of chick starter and love it when I give them grass and clover. Look how big they are!
2 1/2 Weeks Old