top of page

New to Raising Baby Chicks? Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes!

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

I was over the moon with excitement when I finally brought my precious baby chicks home! I'd read every book and first-time chicken owner guide I could find, and I thought I had everything perfectly prepared for their arrival. But let me tell you, I made a few rookie mistakes that I hope other newbie chicken owners can learn from. First of all, those little peepers were so noisy in the car, so I was eager to get home for more reasons than one! As soon as we got home, I excitedly put them in their brooder, which I'd spent weeks perfecting with a heating plate, cozy pine shavings, food, and fresh water. But right away, I could tell something wasn't right.

baby chicks with heating plate

1. Chick Brooder Placement Tips for Raising Baby Chicks

Given the chilly outdoor temperatures, we opted to house our baby chicks indoors for a while. To minimize odors and contain the inevitable chick dust, we felt the basement would be the best starting point.

After a while, I noticed that it was a bit chilly in our basement, where the brooder was set up. Even though I was hesitant to admit it, I knew I had made a mistake. When I saw the chicks huddled up next to the heating plate and heard them peeping loudly, it was clear - the temperature was too low for the chicks.

Are you a first-time chicken owner wondering if your chicks are too cold? Or maybe you're not sure how to properly heat your baby chicks? As a fellow newbie, I completely understand your worries!

2. How to Properly Heat Baby Chicks

In my research I found that the optimal chick brooder temperature should be around 90-95 degrees after the first week of hatching. From there, you can gradually decrease the temperature about 5 degrees each week as they grow. I decided to move the baby chicks into the hallway outside our bedroom, where the temperature was warmer. I felt like a real parent, keeping a close eye on them all night long! But the next morning, I still wasn't confident they were warm enough, so I decided to take the plunge and set up a heat lamp.

Of course, I was concerned about heat lamp safety for chicks, but I made sure to clamp it tightly and surround it with the right protective cage. Additionally, I'm fortunate enough to work from home most days so I've been able to keep a careful watch. With the heat lamp set up, I finally started to see my little chicks spreading out and getting more adventurous. I felt like a proud mama hen, watching them grow and explore their space.

chick brooder setup

3. Providing Food and Water to Baby Chicks

But then, another mistake became apparent: I had overestimated the size of the food and water container. I had bought big feeders and waterers, thinking I was being generous to my babies, but it turned out that they were just taking up too much space in the brooder. I quickly switched and found that smaller, quart-sized containers gave them much more room to run around and play. I'll save the larger vessels for when the chicks leave the nest and transition to the coop.

As a first-time chicken owner, I began nourishing my baby chicks with a "start and grow crumble blend." Preferring a natural approach, I chose the non-medicated variety and decided to closely monitor their health before determining any medicinal needs. This feed, true to its name, has served as an excellent starter diet, promoting robust growth and well-being.

You'll soon notice that pine shavings often end up in the water dish, contaminating it and sometimes even absorbing all the moisture. To avoid frequent water changes, consider placing the dish on a raised platform or investing in a water dish with built-in support legs - it's a game changer!

Learn from Your Mistakes and Enjoy the Experience

Experienced chicken owners might laugh, but as a worried first-time mom, I understand the urge to do everything by the book. However, sometimes it's best to learn from experience and find what works best for you and your flock. I hope my experience can help other new chicken owners avoid these common mistakes and enjoy the rewarding experience of raising baby chicks.

raising newborn chicks

11 views0 comments


bottom of page