We've been taking care of our girls for a couple of days now. At this stage of the game, their needs are pretty simple. The first and most important thing we have focused on is keeping them warm. We’ve got a 240watt red heat-lamp focused on the corner of their brooder 24x7. The chicks need the light to provide an area for them that is between 90-100 degrees so they can stay warm. Our brooder box is large, so they’ve got the one corner where they can go to sleep or warm up if needed, and a pretty good sized area to run around in. It’s fun to watch them run around a bit, get a snack or a drink, then head back under the light for a while. At first we had set up our box with the lamp hanging down from the ceiling above the box, but apparently that was too high. They were peep-peeping constantly. Fearing that they were cold, I moved the light down and clamped it to the side of the brooder, under the lid. They seemed to like this much more and quieted down almost immediately.
Other than keeping them warm, we make sure they’ve got all of the food they want and fresh water at all times. We end up changing the water 2-3 times a day as they get all manner of things in their little fountain. We decided to use a medicated chick starter food. It’s a little more expensive, but as these are our first chicks and we’re not experienced at raising chickens we think it’s worth the peace of mind. We’ve also been adding electrolyte packets to their water. I’m not sure this is really necessary, but they talked us into it at the store and we might as well use it up at this point.
OK, I’ve covered, warm, fed and watered so the last thing we’ve focused on is clean and dry. You might wonder how some little baby chicks might get themselves dirty or wet. Well, dirty is a problem that, how should I put it, is internally generated. It’s important to make sure that everything that goes in the chicken can also get back out of the chicken. In this regard things can get “clogged” at the exit. If this happens it takes a little manual intervention on my part to fix it. It’s not a process they (or I) love, but I’m sure that they know deep down inside they are better off for it. In the end I think it’s really bringing us closer together. We have not had problems with wet, but since they seem to think that their water fount is also a pool at times, we’ve got to watch out for it. From everything I have read moisture is the enemy when it comes to chicks. We’ve grown quite fond of them already and we don’t want anything to happen to them.