Caring for Your Baby Chicks

Welp. You did it now. You went to the local IFA and impulsively bought a couple of cheep-cheep chicklings with dreams of collecting from them the most delicious organic, cage-free eggs from your own urban homestead. And of course, you know what you’re up against, google and YouTube made sure of that. You’ve bought the top-rated water feeder, the heater for the water feeder, pine shavings (because it’s way better than straw) for the coop, a heat lamp and a big bag of organic chick feed. Congrats.

Congrats. And I really mean that.

Congrats on becoming parents to an investment that is rewarding and ongoing. Chickens are the best.

And while the chicken suppliers at IFA do screen for females, by chance you may have collected a baby rooster—which isn’t an issue now, but most certainly will become one as they develop their vocal skills and bug your neighbors. (Trust me, they’ll tell you.) This is not a happy part of this post, and finding a home for him might be difficult. ?

One thing is for sure, other than the food and water basics, our urban little chicks need protection. Protection from the elements, from themselves, from a blockage in their backside and from predators. Predators can be the dog next door, a rummaging raccoon, or a raptor at the ready to wring their little necks. Until your little ones are big enough to be locked up tight every evening in a coop, we recommend keeping them in a fully-protected area or brooder, like a big box under a roofed structure (with air vents). Water is a must, and with an accessible depth but not so deep they can drown in it. A heat lamp should keep the water and the chicks from freezing until their down feathers develop, but anything that heats up is also a fire hazard, and chicks are known to jump, climb and even get some air time, so make sure the lamp is secure and out of reach.

As a wonderful resource, we discovered that the west-side Roots Charter High School is posting on IG tips to keep those chicks alive and healthy.

Jen Hill
Jen Hill
Former Salt Lake Magazine Associate Editor Jen Hill is a SLC transplant from Bloomington, Ind. As a blogger and feature writer, Jen follows the pulse of the community with interests in urban agriculture, business, fitness & beauty and anything that allows her to get out of the office and into the mountains.

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