The chicks arriving at A & L Feed are usually two days old. The hatcheries ship the chicks via the US Postal Service on the same day that they hatch, so they often land a little dazed and tired. With a little TLC and help from our friendly staff your new chicks will be in fine feather in no time.
A basic chick kit is comprised of a little love, a heat source (a lamp and infrared bulb), a box or pen to contain the chicks, a feeder, a waterer, Chick Booster or other comparable electrolyte formula, starter feed and some bedding.
Week-old chicks need to remain within a 90-95° environment, which is delivered from a heat bulb. Place the bulb about 20-24 inches from the bottom of the box. Each week, the temperature can be decreased by 5°, by moving the heat lamp – one to two inches at a time- further away from the chicks. Watch for chicks crowding under the heat lamp, which would indicate a cold environment, or the opposite, the chicks avoiding the heat source and spreading to the outer edges of the pen, indicate that these lovely little creatures are too warm.
The bedding consists of two to three inches of shavings, and should be kept dry and clean as much as possible. Straw is not an ideal bedding material as it is slippery for the little chick’s feet. Chicks can develop splayed legs
if they are constantly slipping on their bedding. Also, cedar chips are not recommended, as the cedar oil is harsh to their skin and little airways. We recommend Douglas fir shavings due to the fact that they have less dust. Pine can work too, but the dust that accompanies it can irritate the chicks eyes.
Chick Booster should be given for the first three days, as it will replace any electrolytes the chicks may have lost during their journey. The formula is dissolvable in water and administered in the chick’s waterer. Starter feed can be either medicated or non-medicated. We recommend 20% chick starter for the first 12 weeks. After the chicks reach 12 weeks, a maintenance diet will be fed based on the functionality of the breed (egg layers, meat birds or game birds).
Chicks can be let out during the day, provided the weather is mild, around eight weeks of age. If the temperature remains warm at night, the chicks can start spending their first nights out in their chicken house.