Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Chicks & FAQs
Coop: Before you receive your chicks, you should ensure that your coop is thoroughly cleaned. Seal off any drafts and make sure everything is in working order! The coop should be dry and fresh bedding should be placed a few days in advance.
Bedding: Use straw or shavings (not shredded newspaper and not sawdust). Avoid changing unless wet while the chicks are growing.
Temperature: You should warm the coop/area you're raising the chicks in for at least 48 hours before arrival. To measure temperature, place a thermometer in the spot furthest from the heat source that the chicks can reach. The outer edge of your chick enclosure should be no colder than 30 degrees Celsius. Temperature is extremely important - you should never guess the temperature - always check with a thermometer. If your chicks huddle beneath the heat lamp, they are too cold! If they are spread to the outermost edges, they are too hot! Happy chicks move freely in their enclosure and form a ring beneath the heat lamp at night when they sleep.
You should have food and water ready for your chicks when they arrive. Chicks require 20% Chick Starter for the first 8 weeks. They may then gradually be shifted onto a diet of grains or professionally-mixed chicken food.
When you arrive at home, you should first make sure that each chick has had a drink. To do this, gently hold the chick and tilt their body to the water dish, allowing them to sip from the water. Make sure you have a shallow waterer for chicks, so they cannot drown. Try not to move the chicks feeder or waterer for the first few days, so the chicks can adjust.
Otherwise, monitor the temperature and the chicks' behaviour to ensure their health and happiness. Enjoy!
You should use 18-inch brooder guard to encircle your chick enclosure, ensuring that there is 0.5 square foot per chick. You would need 15 feet of brooder guard for 25 chicks.
One 250 watt red heat bulb is adequate for 50 chicks or less. Make sure that your power source is reliable! (Ambient temperature, that is - the temperature of the room - should be 24 degrees Celsius.
You should start your heat lamp 18 inches above the ground (the heat lamp should be gradually raised as the chicks grow, but you shouldn't need to adjust until a week or two).
After 10 days, your chicks should not require the brooder guard and the area for your chicks should be expanded at two weeks by 50%, and further yet at four weeks. Room/ambient temperature must remain at 24 degrees Celsius.
Q: How can I tell if the temperature is correct?
A: Always use a thermometer - don't guess! - and check the furthest location your chicks can access from the heat source. If your chicks are huddling together, lethargic, or peeping loudly - they are too cold. If they are hiding in the farthest corners away from the light, panting, or holding their wings away from their body - they are too hot. If your chicks are running around, eating, and drinking, you have the temperature correct!
Tip 1: Check your thermometer during the night. Often temperatures are cooler than during the day.
Tip 2: Check your temperature frequently! You can never check too much. Check, check, and check again.
Q: Why do my chicks have poopy rears?
A: Their environment might be too cold for the first few days. You should remove poop/paste every day with warm water. Check your temperature! If chicks do not recover in a few days, consult a vet about whether or not to give them an antibiotic to prevent bacterial infection.
Q: My chicks were doing great, but then when they were 4 days old, they started dying. What's wrong?
A: Too cold! If chicks are not warm enough during the night, they can spend too much time huddling together as they try to stay warm, and not enough time eating food, or drinking water. Make sure the temperature is warm enough overnight.
Q: I live in Edmonton, and want some laying hens, can I raise my own chicks?
A: No, the City of Edmonton requires that hens be no younger than 16-weeks of age. You can have between 3-6 hens (no roosters). For more information about Edmonton's Urban Hen Program - Click Here! If you live outside of Edmonton, check your community bylaws to ensure you can raise chicks.
Q: Do you ship chicks?
A: No, at this time we don't offer shipping. We may offer shipping in the future, however.
Q: Can I return chicks?
A: No, once the chicks leave the farm, they become your responsibility and cannot be returned. We operate a "closed flock" on the farm for biosecurity purposes. For more information on biosecurity in chicken flocks: Click Here.