Baby chicks are cute fuzzy little critters that are completely irresistible. However, a lot of time, and work goes into raising a baby chick. You can find baby chicks at almost any feed supply store. There are many different breeds of chickens, but a good supplier will be able to tell you exactly what breed your buying.
How Much Do Baby Chicks Cost?
Baby chicks usually cost between $1.00 – $3.00 per chick. Rare breeds of chickens of course cost a little more, and are usually only bought directly through the breeder. Chicks are a common gift given at Easter and spring time, without second thought of the care, and supplies they will need.
Housing Baby Chicks
When buying a chick you will need a wire cage, water and feed containers, grit (finely ground feed), and a heat source. Newly hatched chicks under a week old should be kept at 90 degrees at all time. After the first week you can drop 5 degrees until the chick is 4 weeks old. The easiest way to make sure your chicks stay warm is to provide them with a heat lamp indoors.
Even though wire cages are best for a chick, and adult chickens. While your chick is indoors you can place a thick piece of newspaper under the cage to prevent droppings from damaging the surface in which the cage sets on. You can also add dried oak leaves to the inside of the cage.
The leaves will help keep the chick warm, give the chick something to play with, and help absorb the droppings. To prevent your chick from getting sick, you should clean the cage at least every other day. Do not use saw dust in the chicks cage until the chick is at least 6 weeks old. Small chicks can mistake the saw dust as food, and eat it, causing blockage.
Remember chicks are on the food chain for many animals such as birds, cats, and snakes. The safest way to allow your chick outdoor time, is to place the wire cage directly on the grass, so that the grass pokes through the wire. This way the chick can enjoy the new surrounds, without becoming lunch.
Feeding and Water
You will also need to water and feed you chick. Feeders are inexpensive usually costing around $5.00 each, and can be bought at most feed supply store. Even though your feeders will hold over a weeks worth of water, and grit, only put a couple days worth in the feeders. Chicks are small enough to play on the feeders, and will do their business on and in their feed. Their water should also be keep clean, which means it should be changed at least every day, or several times a day if it gets to dirty. To keep the chicks cage enjoyable, toss a little grit into the leaves, and let the chick scratch around for it.
Clipping Chicken Beaks
All chickens are cannibals. Chicks, and chickens do fine on their own but, if you place two or more in a small cage the will eat one another. If you see them pecking at one another, you will either need to have their beaks clipped, or separate them. You can buy the tool needed for clipping their beaks at any feed supply store, or have a vet do it for you.
Handling Your Baby Chicks
Chicks are fragile, and should not be held to much. Instead try feeding the chick by hand, to do so just place some grit in your palm and hold it out to the chick. Chicks are just like any baby, they need playtime, and sleep time. You should not be alarmed if your chick is sleeping often. For playtime, the chick should be placed outdoors.
Always wash your hands after you have handled a chick, or chicken.
Raising Baby Chicks
If you get a chick without notice, do not panic. You can use an old aquarium, bird cage, hamster cage, etc… as a temporary cage. For feed you can give the chick instant oatmeal for a few days. You can also use a small ashtray or other weighted shallow dish for a watering bowl. Place the cage under a lamp, or place a heating pad on top of the cage to help keep the chick warm.
Chick are adorable, but they require hard work, dedication, and patience the first 6 -8 weeks of their life. You should know exactly what you are getting into, before you buy a chick. You also need to consider if you want a hen or a rooster. If you live in the city, you will need to see if your allowed to have a chicken. Chicks are cute, but they grow up fast. A female chick becomes a laying hen at 16 weeks of age. The cute fuzzy stage only last a few short weeks.