Learning and understanding what to feed baby chickens after hatching is vital to help the baby chickens stand a chance of surviving and thriving.
Just like any newborn, in the long journey from a baby hatchling to a fully feathered, the baby chickens need to have strong defenses and undergo rapid development and transformation during those formative days, weeks, and months. We need to put a lot of attention into each stage and let’s learn all these details in this post.
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Basic needs of chicks
Apart from the essential feed that the baby chickens need to survive, there are two other major things that any baby chick needs: warmth and water.
For the perfect condition with good warmth, we need to set up a good brooder. It should be done 48 hours in advance to have ample time for any equipment or bedding to be set to the optimum temperature to keep those hatchlings warm and safe. We need some essential items: a brooder, a heat lamp, bedding, lights, feeders, and waterers.
Read our related article on How to Hatch a Chick Without an Incubator. This guide covers everything you need to know to hatch healthy chicks!
The chick’s brooder should be warm and dry, draft-free, and comfortable with a space of three to four square feet per chick. It should also be expandable and circular.
To keep the baby chickens nice and warm, we need to put the heat lamp about 20 inches above the litter and about three feet away from the actual guard walls.
The heat lamp should be in the range of 55-95 degrees Fahrenheit and we should leave some space for our chicks to get away from the heater if they start to feel too hot. Then gradually, we reduce the temperature by five degrees Fahrenheit until it finally reaches the minimum.
Read our related article, What Temp is too Hot for Chicks? The right temperature is essential for chicks and chickens to thrive. Learn more!
We should use absorbent wood shavings for the brooder’s bedding three to four inches deep. Always keep it dry and odor-free.
If the bedding is wet, it should be removed daily and replaced, especially if it’s close to our waterer to protect the bird’s long-term health.
Ideally, the light that is a 40-watt bulb per 100 square feet should be supplied from 18-22 hours a day to aid with the baby chickens’ growth and development. Then for the rest of the growing period, we can reduce the light to 16 hours.
Depending on the number of chicks and the brooder’s size, we set up the number of feeders to accommodate four linear inches of feeder space per bird.
Firstly, we put the waterers inside the brooder 24 hours before our chicks’ scheduled arrival to get water at room temperature. We then fill two one-quart waterers and position them inside the brooder for every 25 chicks.
Using a water heater can help to get the right water temperature for our chicken in colder months.
Read More: How Many Chickens Do I Need for Eggs? You want enough chickens to produce as many eggs as you’ll eat or sell. This chart and guide will help!
What to feed baby chickens after hatching?
Baby chicks after hatching need essential nutrients to boost their growth and prepare abundantly on the road ahead. Foods to give them, whether it is commercially made or homemade, should be rich in minerals and protein, and easily digestible.
Rule of thumb: Water first!
Water is the first thing a baby chick needs to form the baby chick’s wellbeing and support all of its essential bodily functions.
Chicks normally consume approximately double water to physical feed. Lacking water can affect a young chick’s health and wellbeing.
We should introduce the chicks to room temperature water in the brooding area immediately, and then a few hours later, we can teach them to feed.
We could slowly dip their beaks into the water to lure them so that they get to know where their water source is. We should monitor them all closely to ensure no chick misses on drinking in the first few hours.
Read More: Can Chickens Eat Celery Stalks and Leaves? Celery can cause digestive issues if it’s not prepared correctly. Here’s how to safely feed celery to your flock!
The baby chicks need a rich and balanced sugar source, fats, and minerals to support their growth. We can start by using a commercial chick starter mix with the perfect blend of minerals, proteins, nutrients, carbohydrates, and fats to support a baby chick’s growth and development until they are eight weeks old.
Many chicks feed like the Manna Pro Chick Starter, are also formulated with amprolium to prevents coccidiosis, a common protozoal gastrointestinal disease that primarily causes young chickens to death.
Using commercial food is a time-saving solution, as it already comes in a crumble form which is just the right size for chicks. Here, only the cost matters.
We can create a mix at home with eggs and oatmeal by hard boiling a couple of eggs, then mashing them up thoroughly, and finally mixing with some oatmeal. The baby chickens would love this feed.
Unlike the previous one, making food for chicks at home might take you a bit of time, especially if you have a considerable number of chicks, as there will be more jobs to handle.
Read More: Can Chickens Eat Tomatoes From the Garden? Learn if tomatoes are a good addition to your chickens’ diet in this guide!
Protein is a vital nutrient chick needs to support growth because it stimulates and supports the growth of muscle and tissue and internal organs. We can supply the baby chickens with protein in the fresh worms. Worms can be found throughout the spring and summer months and they are nature’s supply source of fresh protein.
We should be careful about the treats for the baby chicks we give them by chopping up some hard-boiled eggs along with sweetcorn to make a tasty and nutritious treat that they can easily digest. Or we can use lettuce hanging from the side of the brooder to provide pecking practice for the restless and curious baby chicks.
Baby chicks grit
To help the baby chicks’ digestion, we aid them with grit: little pieces of sand, stone, or earth from our local environment. If you do not have time to prepare it, we suggest the Manna Pro Chick Grit which we used for our young chickens.
If the baby chicks are at the stage where we add supplemental food like scraps from our kitchen, adding grit will aid their digestive system. However, if they eat a starter mix, they don’t need a source of grit.
We need to keep their food fresh. The waterers and feeders need to be emptied, cleaned, and refilled daily. As the chicks grow in size, we need to raise the feeder’s level to the chick’s back.
Finding out what to feed baby chickens after hatching is the first step of raising baby chicks. If we know all the details and information, we set ourselves a good way to prepare the baby chicken for the world so that we can watch these wonderful creatures grow and experience the world.