I remember when I first thought about raising chickens. Then, out of the blue, my husband ordered 25 chickens and told me to get ready. I had no idea what I was doing! Thus began the frantic searching of Pinterest and reading every article I could find about raising chickens.
So, if you are like me, then you need to know a basic essential supply list for baby chicks. Trust me, I’ve done the hard work for you!
Supply List for Baby Chicks:
The supply list to start raising chickens is pretty basic, but you need several essential items to get started. They are:
- Heat Lamp
- Chick Starter Feed
- Container to hold the chicks
- Chicken Coop (eventually)
Setting Up a Brooder:
Before you get your baby chicks, you should set up your brooder. The container you picked for your chicks could be a plastic tote, a wooden box, a galvanized tub, or anything else that can hold moisture without falling apart. Your chicks will most likely remain in the brooder until 6 weeks of age. Keep in mind that chicks need at least 1/2 foot of space in the brooder each.
We used a wooden box the first time around, but we had to throw it out afterwards because it retained the stench from all the chicken poop. Now we use a galvanized metal tub because it’s washable and reusable. I also recommend using a screen placed on top of the brooder to keep any ambitious chicks from flying out.
The waterer for the baby chicks should be the starter size. Don’t go for the huge waterers up front, because baby chicks can fall in and drown. Depending on the number of chicks you get, you may need two or more to ensure that there is plenty of water.
If you are ordering your chickens and they are being mailed to you, it’s important to give your chicks electrolytes immediately. The shipping process tends to stress the baby chicks. Simply put a little bit of the electrolytes into the chicks water to give them a boost.
In addition, you will also need a small feeder (or two again depending on the number of chicks). You will need a bag of chick starter feed, which contains 18% of protein. This can be fed to the chicks until they are 8 weeks old. Then you can switch to grower feed, which is for weeks 8-16.
Heat Lamp for Baby Chicks:
Baby chicks need to stay at 95 degrees their first week and get cold very easily. Make sure that you have a heat lamp that can heat all of your chicks. I started out with 25 chicks and I needed to use two heat lamps at all times. These are the weekly temperatures you will need to set for your chicks:
- Week two – 85 degrees
- Week three – 80 degrees
- Week four – 75 degrees
- Week five – 70 degrees
- Week six – 65 degrees
Alternatively, if you are worried about the threat of a fire from the heat lamps, you can try the EcoBrooder which generates electric heat, but not enough to start a fire. I tried the EcoBrooder, but it didn’t generate enough heat for all of my baby chicks. If you purchase less than 20 chicks, then this could be a good option for you.
If you are worried about having the right temperature set, take a look at your chicks. Are they plastered against the sides of the brooder? Then it is definitely too warm and you may want to move the heat lamp farther away. If the chicks are huddled together, then they are probably cold. Move the heat lamp closer to them or consider setting up a second lamp.
Bedding for Baby Chicks:
Further, bedding is necessary to put down for the chicks in order to catch all the poop droppings. If you are new to raising chicks, this is something that most people don’t tell you. Chickens poop. A LOT. Just be ready and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
There are multiple options for bedding, including wood shavings, pine shavings, sand, etc. I use pine shavings because it’s cheap and easy to replace.
If you are raising chicks in your garage, cleaning is essential. If I didn’t clean the brooder enough, I could smell the chickens inside the house. It’s not very pleasant. You should replace the bedding once or twice per week. Plus, chicks enjoy having a clean brooder. Their little chirps will tell you how much they enjoy scratching through their new bedding. Your chicks will be grateful.
Lastly, once your chicks have reached 6 weeks of age, they are ready to be moved to the chicken coop. Hopefully, you already have one built. We didn’t and it was a huge mistake. We had four month old chickens living in our garage and it was a disaster. You can read about that situation here.
The moral of the story is: make sure that you have a coop built or purchased because you want those chickens moved to the coop as soon as possible. There are plenty of chicken coop plans that you can find for free online or purchase for a nominal amount if you are building the coop yourself. Otherwise, Tractor Supply or your local farm store sell small chicken coops already built. You can find the free coop plan we used here.
And that’s it! That’s all it takes to start raising chickens. Let me tell you, raising chickens is one of the best choices we have made. Chickens are a source of fun and amusement and we really enjoy raising our little ladies. Plus, you have the added bonus of future fresh eggs to look forward to!