Picking out a chick brooder is easy! There are just a few important things it must have and your chicks will be happy and healthy.
I just got my baby chicks about a month ago and I’m not sure if there is anything more fun than the anticipation of chicks arriving.
I order my baby chicks every 2 years from Murray McMurray Hatchery. So the anticipation of getting alerted when they ship and then getting the phone call from the post office when they arrive is pretty much as exciting as it would be to get a call from Santa on Christmas morning!
The phone call usually happens about 5:45 am and so I rush out of bed and head straight to the post office to get my box of baby chicks.
And boy are they ready to be picked up! I’m pretty sure they can chirp louder at 1-2 days old than they ever do later on. At least it sounds that way!
So then once I get them home I put them straight into their chick brooder that is already fully set up and awaiting their arrival.
Chick Brooder Ideas
There are so many options for chick brooders. I know it’s easy to often get caught up trying to get the best one, but as long you provide your chicks with food and water, a heat source, and love they’ll be healthy and happy in just about anything.
Each of these ideas can work out great and at least one is likely something you’ll have lying around your house.
Setting Up Your Chicken Brooder
- Heat Source
You should set up your brooder at least one day prior to getting your chicks. This way it’s ready when they arrive and you won’t be rushing last minute.
In the bottom of whatever container you decide to use, line it with newspaper or paper towels. This will make it easier to clean out.
Then be sure to top it with pine shavings (never cedar shavings).
You don’t want the chicks to only be on the newspaper though, it can get slippery and cause them to slip all over the place.
Shavings are great because they absorb moisture and provide soft bedding.
Then hang your heat lamp about 12 inches above the baby chicks. You will keep it as this height for around the first week of life and then as they start growing in their feathers you can adjust the height further away from them.
Choose a heat lamp with a red bulb versus a white bulb and be sure to have an extra bulb on hand in case it goes out or breaks.
You need to also be sure that the lamp is secure however you have it hung. Otherwise it could be a fire hazard and you don’t want that!
Fill up your water. It’s a good idea to set the waterer on something slightly up off the shavings like a cut piece of 2×4.
If not, you’ll constantly be scooping out shavings from their water.
Fill your feeder with chick starter feed.
Depending on how many chicks you bought, you may even want to put in two feeders. I bought 25 chicks and use two feeders to keep up with how much they eat.
If you want to be be extra prepared you should set up two brooders. In the picture below you can see that I have a rabbit hutch and a water trough set up.
The reason is because in the first few days I keep an extra close watch over my chicks and if any of them are weak or sick acting I will put them in a separate brooder.
This keeps the other babies from picking on them… Because baby chicks can be pretty cruel to the weak ones!
Caring for the Chicks
As soon as you put your chicks into the brooder you should dip their beaks into the water to ensure that they drink as well as know where water is. Other than that initial step you’ll be amazed by their natural instincts.
They start scratching around and pecking at the food right from the get go.
Be sure to check their feeder and waterer daily and provide them with fresh water at least every other day.
Then plan to clean out their cage about 1-2 times a week.
I also suggest taking lots of pictures in the first few days because chicks grow insanely fast and before you know it they won’t be cute little babies anymore.
Where to Buy Chicks
There are lots of options when it comes to buying baby chicks. But the two most common are buying them at your local feed store or online from a hatchery.
I prefer getting them online from Murray McMurray Hatchery. They have just about ever breed you could ever imagine plus they are sexed.
When I place my order I choose to get all my chicks vaccinated at a very reasonable price and then they get shipped straight to our local post office in a little cardboard box.
I’ve always had great success with healthy chickens but if one happens to die on the trip or within 48 hours they will refund you for your loss.
I have bought baby chicks from the feed store as well, which is completely fine and often hard not to do when you walk in and are greeted by the babies.
A few of the downsides are that sometimes feed stores will only have straight runs. That means you don’t have the option of only buying hens if that’s what you’re after.
They usually only a few breeds to choose from as well. I have my few favorite breeds that I always want and while sometimes they’re at the feed store, sometimes they aren’t.
So in the end either option works. But depending on the availability at the feed store an online hatchery may be better.
Have Fun Raising Your Backyard Chickens
Having chickens is definitely one of my favorite things on my little farm. I love farm fresh eggs and I love watching their personalities.
For a bird, they are pretty awesome little creatures. They take a minimal amount of care and are just all around fun pets to have.
Setting up your chick brooder is the first step to many fun years ahead with chickens. Don’t worry about finding the perfect brooder, just provide your chicks with proper care and it’ll all turn out great!
As your chicks get older and you’re looking for more tips on raising chickens, here are a few helpful posts you may enjoy: