If you are getting ready to bring home your very first batch of baby chicks, this baby chick supply list will help you get ready before you bring your adorable little hatchlings home.
The very best part about being a backyard homesteader is farm fresh eggs every single day. I cannot tell you the delicious satisfaction I get when I am cooking food that I have grown or raised on our little homestead.
The love and care that goes into this food make all the work and care that goes on behind the scenes worth it.
Disclaimer: In accordance with FDA guidelines, the information and products offered on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am not a medical professional. Before administering any medications to your animals please contact a veterinarian first.
One of the most exciting times of the year for us is when we order our new supply of baby chicks. Their little chirps are a reminder of the fresh eggs to come. Even though we can get chicks at our local feed store, I like to order mine through the mail. Yes, you read that right.
I have been ordering my chicks this way for 9+ years and have not had any significant problems, even in the dead of winter my little babies arrive safe, sound and toastie warm.
If you are ready to dive into the fun and enjoyable world of backyard chickens then you’ve come to the right place. And even though adding livestock to your homestead might seem overwhelming, my goal is to lay it all out for you in a simple easy to follow way.
So you can read, do, and begin your journey to farm fresh eggs for your home today.
It is important to have your supplies ready BEFORE your chicks arrive, trust me on this. (I’ve done the legwork.) Take your time to set things up in a safe way being sure you are meeting all the requirements baby chicks and ducklings need.
SLCG PRO TIP: Did you know that you can raise ducklings and chicks together? Their care is quite similar and ducks are such a great addition to have on a homestead. They have larger eggs that do wonderful in baking.
Do your research, make a supply list of all the things you will need, get it bought AND set into place before your new chicks come home. This will give your baby chicks an amazingly good start along with less stress for both them and you.
Baby Chick Supply List (and Ducklings too!)
#1 Chick Housing
This one is pretty easy and doesn’t require any money.
I recommend using a heavy-duty cardboard box. You want a box with high sides to keep your little chicks from hopping out. (baby chicks can hop surprisingly high) You also want the sides low enough so you can easily reach in to feed, water, and touch your little birds.
SLCG PRO TIP: Be sure to handle your chicks and ducklings often from day one. The more you handle them the more they will be comfortable with you. This is incredibly important for any health care you may need to give later on.
To find a good box, you can visit a local appliance store or ask right on Facebook. You might be surprised how many of your friends have a box sitting at home that will work perfectly to house your little chicks.
Chicks require ½ square foot of space to start out, so you may need more than one box depending on how many birds you plan on getting. I also like to put a “lid” on my chick pen. The purpose of the lid is to be sure my chicks and ducklings stay put. The most important requirement for young chicks is heat and if a chick gets out on accident they will become chilled quite quickly.
A great option for a lid I have found is an old window screen. You can also use a section of chicken wire. The goal here is to keep the chicks in but also to keep danger out.
A family pet or curious little hands can accidentally harm or stress out your chicks. Keep them secluded while they are growing to give them the best possible start.
Just make sure whatever you use will allow for airflow and ventilation.
SLCG PRO TIP: Baby chicks create an INSANE amount of dust. So keep them in a place where this will not drive you crazy. A basement is a good idea or a garage if the temps are warmer and you do not have pets that can harm them. I have kept mine in the mudroom but the daily dusting drove me a bit crazy. So now I keep them in the basement and only dust when I move them out.
If you decide to use a plastic tote to keep your chicks in, please use caution. Keeping your chicks on a slippery surface can cause curly toe. A common yet avoidable condition in baby chicks. Curly toe can happen when a chick is forced to grip the slippery ground so much it causes their toes to curl in. For this reason, I suggest adding in a thick layer of bedding especially if you are using a plastic tote that does have a slippery surface. This will give your chicks a better grip for their feet.
#2 Chick Bedding
I have found that poultry bedding or wood shavings, work the best to keep things clean. Depending on how many chicks you have will determine how much bedding to put down. About an inch seems to work well to start.
Baby chicks pooh a lot, so you will need to tidy things up once or twice a day. To clean, simply remove any soiled areas and replace them with fresh shavings as needed. I used a plastic glove to protect my hand and just “pick up” the soiled bedding. Once done I can add in a fresh layer.
SLCG PRO TIP: There is nothing quite as skittish than a baby chick or duckling. And seeing anything out of the ordinary such as a large hand coming into their safe little home can send them jumping, chirping, and running. Be sure to always move slowly so you can keep this behavior down and, in turn, keep your baby chicks and ducklings safe.
Chicks need heat especially when they are brand new since they do not have the warmth of their mothers to do this for them.
It is recommended that the temperature of your chick’s brooder stay between 90-95 degrees for at least the first week. You can then begin decreasing the temp by 5 degrees each week from there. This will acclimate them better to the outside temperature where you live.
You can find heat lamps and heat bulbs (they are sold separately) at Amazon, Tractor Supply or any feed mill.
Disclaimer: Heat lamps are a fire hazard. I cannot stress this enough. Be sure you purchase one with a front guard like the one shown in the picture above along with a clamp that will hold the lamp securely in place. Use every precaution to ensure your lamp will not come in contact with paper, wood chip bedding, or the chicks themselves. Heat lamps and heat bulbs are VERY HOT and will do damage quite quickly. Make sure the clamp is secured in a way that it cannot be jiggled loose. I like to use zip ties and mount our map on a separate platform and not the house itself. I do this with a small ladder clamping the lamp to one of the steps and using a chain as an extra securing measure locking everything in with zip ties.
I also have a small thermometer that I can use to check the temp, it is important to keep a consistent temp on your peeps. A good rule of thumb is, if your chicks are huddling directly below the heat lamp, then the odds are they re cold and you will need to adjust the height of the lamp.
If you see your chicks are as far away from the lamp as they can get, it is probably too low and you will want to raise it.
What you want to see if chicks and ducklings scattered all around sleeping in different areas. This means you have the best height for your heat lamp and the temperature is just right.
Next on our baby chick supply list is water.
As with any animal, it is important to give them fresh water at all times. Baby chicks are active little things and can make a mess pretty quickly. Besides housing, fresh water is the number one way to ensure your chicks are healthy.
Because of this, you may find yourself changing your chick’s water several times throughout the day. I suggest having a small waterer to make that job a bit easier.
I usually change the water completely out in the morning and then again at night. You just don’t want water for your chicks but clean water that is unsoiled. To keep things cleaner longer you can put the waterer on a small block of wood that will lift it up off the ground slightly. This sometimes helps to keep the bedding out of the waterer longer.
This waterer is really inexpensive, less than $3 but shipping time is a bit long so please keep that in mind if you choose to purchase it.
Ninja tip: To get your brand new chicks to drink water, as you are putting them into their new home take each chick and gently dip their beaks into the water and set them down. This is usually enough to tell them there is water close by and put them in “search” mode. If you find a chick is not able to locate the water, the other chicks will usually lead by example, but you can always dip their beaks again.
I feed my chicks a starter feed that contains everything a new chick needs nutritionally. I suggest keeping your chicks on this feed for the first 8-10 weeks.
You will also need a feeder that will dispense feed continuously throughout the day. This is known as a self-feeder and you can find one at Amazon for pretty cheap as well like this one.
Just like with the water you will need to check the feed often to remove any bedding or poo that ends up inside.
Just pick the debris off and jiggle the feeder to get more food to flow down to the bottom. Fill the feeder as needed.
Another item on our chick supply list is a roost.
For some reason, baby chicks tend to get bored in that box all day long and providing a small roost for them to jump up and down from gives them an activity to do.
It’s funny watching them hop up, hop down, only to hop right back up again.
If you have a cardboard box, you can make a roost by poking a small hole at each end of a corner. Feed a small stick from outside through each hole. If you are using a wooden box, you can just wedge a small stick into the corner to hold it in place. The roost does not need to be far off of the ground, just a few inches is usually enough.
One final tip for your baby chicks that is extremely important is more of a maintenance tip than a housing tip. Sometimes when chicks poo it can get stuck to their delicate feathers. If left untreated it can clump up blocking the opening of their vent found on their back end where their poo comes out. This is called “Pasty Butt” and if left untreated it can actually kill your chick.
To fix this you will need to do a vent check every day to be sure there is no poo clumping there. If you see some you can use a damp cotton ball or Q-tip to soften it up so you can remove it. A simple step yet crucial one to take with your chicks.
Baby chicks are such a fun and easy way to get your start in homesteading.
Low startup costs, small housing, and easy maintenance are just a few of the perks not to mention all the fun you will have watching your little peeps grow!