Buying baby chicks is an exciting time and for the first timer it can become overwhelming with all the options of products to buy. The truth is though, you don’t need most of that stuff people try to push on you. Quality over quantity is what your after. Here are some essentials to add to your baby chick must have list:
The Essential Baby Chick Must Haves List
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1. Brooder-This may seem like a no brainer but the brooder is the most important aspect of keeping chicks and probably the one that you’ll put the most thought into. Sure you could buy a “brooder” kit but really you don’t need to. There are numerous things you could use for a brooder, and some you might even have on hand without spending a penny!
Pack-n-Play. This came about after my chicks were 4 weeks old because they needed the extra space and I was clueless as what to use. Now you need to be mindful about placing a screen on top of the pack n play or one morning you’ll find this:
Cardboard Box. Boxes are my go to’s when the chicks are first hatched because, depending on how many you get, you don’t need such a large space. Remember the bigger the space the more you have to clean.
Plastic tubs. I’ve used plastic bins as temporary shelters but I’m not a huge fan of them. First, the red heat lamp gets extremely hot and it could pose a fire hazard. Also there is no air circulating aside from the top being open. Because only the top is open the chicks aren’t exposed to see beyond the brooder. Getting used to you approaching the brooder is something they should become familiar with and not be frightened every time you do so.
Dog Crate. Currently I’m using a large dog crate as a brooder and so far I am really liking how easy it is to clean and the security features of it. No chicks perching out of the brooder on this one! Although the tray is lined with newspaper and hay, it is really easy to remove and clean off. Also the fact that the crate is metal gives me added peace of mind with using the heat lamp.
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So you see there are many options available for you to choose from when picking a brooder. It all depends on your situation which option will work best for you.
2. Heat Lamp & Housing unit-When baby chicks are first hatched they need to be kept very warm at 95 degrees that first week. In order to achieve such a high temp you need to have a red not white, 250 watt heat lamp and housing unit. Like I said earlier these bulbs put off a lot of heat and get hot so make sure the electrical cord on the housing unit is not touching the cover.
Another option, which I haven’t purchased myself, is the Ecoglow brooder lamp. This newer technology offers less energy use and is safer than using a red heat lamp. The price tag is heafty but if your going to be brooding small batches of chicks on a regular basis it might be a good investment for you.
3. Waterer and Feeder-So you might have some things laying around the house that could be used as a waterer or feeder but in this case I would suggest to just buy them. They are very inexpensive to buy and what I like about the waterer and feeder is that they have a central storage container that will release more water and feed as needed. Less times you have to refill.
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4. Chicken starter-For feed this is really a personal decision on how you want to raise your poultry. If you want organic eggs then your going to have to buy them organic feed. If not, do you want to give medicated or non-medicated feed? I personally did not give medicated feed and I do not give my girls organic feed. On most days they free range for half of the day and that really supplies them with the variety in nutrients they need in their diet.
5. Digital thermometer-Its especially helpful to have a thermometer on hand so you know what the temperature is inside the brooder. Always observe the chicks to determine if they are comfortable or not. If they huddle under the heat all the time then it is too cold in the brooder, and if they seem to stay away from the heat then it is too hot.
6. Bedding-There are a few options for bedding material and the easiest choice I’ve found is to place newspaper down first then a layer of hay. If you just use newspaper the chicks could slip on it and cause them to have splayed legs. The newspaper allows me to easily roll it up. Having the hay gives them something to scratch through.
Pine shavings are very popular to use, safe and cheap. I use pine shavings in my coop and honestly it smells so nice when put a layer of fresh bedding down. I don’t use it for the chicks just because I don’t want shavings all over the basement-made that mistake the first time.
Raising baby chicks is a fun and exciting endeavor especially for the first time. Understanding that you don’t need a whole lot to get started makes it less overwhelming. I hope you have found my essential baby chick supply list useful in your search for basic chick needs.
Read more in The Ups and Downs of Raising Baby Chicks
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