Raising hens from baby chicks requires you to check on them often during the first few weeks. It's really fun to watch them turn from downy, fluffy little balls into feathered-out, gawky adolescent pullets. With some basic know-how, you can raise happy, healthy laying hens and, if you choose, roosters.
Get Baby Chicks
The first order of business: get baby chicks! You can order small or large quantities of chicks from your local feed or farm store, or check with your local poultry association. But you can also order from any number of hatcheries online.
- Online Chick Hatcheries and Suppliers
- Is It Safe to Order Baby Chicks Online?
- Choosing Chicken Breeds for Your Flock
Gather Your Supplies
To start with, you need some chick-specific supplies. A brooder - an area for them to be free of drafts, with a heat source, is key. Chick-sized waterers and feeders make the first few days and weeks easier. Make sure to have everything set up, with the brooder lamp warming up the area where the chicks will be, the day before your chicks are due to arrive. Read up on all the supplies you'll need in detail:
When You Get Your Chicks
Once those baby balls of fluff arrive home, you'll want to have everything ready for them to settle into their brooder and stay warm and happy. Plan to check on them at least five times a day during the first couple of weeks of life, and less after that. You'll need to monitor their temperature, keep them safe from pets and overhandling by children, and keep their feed and water clean. Learn everything you need to know to get them off to a great start with this guide:
Caring For Your Growing Chickens
After the baby chick stage passes, you'll have young pullets and cockerels and, once they turn one year old, hens and roosters. Some basic daily chores involving keeping their food and water fresh and collecting eggs is the basis of ongoing chicken care, but you'll want to make sure they're protected from predators and staying healthy as well.