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I miss having baby chicks. We had three batches of them over two summers and they're so much fun. The're sweet and inquisitive, fearless and easily exhausted. They run around chasing each other and then fall asleep standing up only to tip over or splay out. They are, in a word, adorable.
To be fully prepared for having chicks, you'll need a few things:
1. chick feeder and chick feed
2. chick waterer
3. heat lamp with red bulb (Why red? First, the red light is less glaring and since it'll be on 24/7, this is a good thing for the babies. Secondly it helps prevent the chicks from picking at each other because they will pick at blood and feathers, potentially harming weaker chicks.)
4. pine (never ever use cedar with birds) shavings
5. A large box. If you can get a watermelon box from the grocery store, use that. It'll seem too big at first but we found that our chicks could fly up over a foot after a week, and to nearly 2.5' just a week later. We used a massive plastic tote with a screen over the top.
6. Paper towels. Those little buggers crap everywhere. The poops are small but powerfully stinky.
7. a perch of some sort, even if it's just a block of wood
8. a pie tin and parakeet grit - introduce this around a week and the babies will gobble it like mad
My Pet Chicken has an excellent resource for how to take care of your chicks. Read it!
After having raised three batches of chicks here's some of my advice:
Frequent handling of babies will ensure friendlier adults. One of our favorite things was to allow the chicks to fall asleep in our hands and then just hold them. If you're up for it, wrap a towel around your neck and let the babies burrow into it. Keep paper towels close!
Monitor household animals closely. Our geriatric cats liked watching the chicks but weren't interested in hunting them. The same can't be said for younger cats or dogs. A friend's dog killed her chicks in just moments.
If there are chicks running around on the floor, shuffle your feet or don't walk around at all. Curry ran and slid under my foot when she was maybe two weeks old. I was wearing slippers but still injured her foot. The sound she made when it happened was horrifying. Luckily I only lifted a couple of scales and didn't break the bone, but it bled quite a bit and swelled up enormously. She favored her foot for a few days and I felt like a giant lumbering asshole.
Before you give the chicks any non-feed food, present them grit for a day or two. After that, introduce them to grass, lettuce, fruits, berries, tomatoes, scraps of cheese or meat, and anything else you can imagine. If you want to laugh your head off, get a few crickets at the pet store and watch the babies play chicken rugby once they realize it's food. The downside of this is that my chickens now see any plastic bag as a potential source of crickets.
The cute phase lasts only about three weeks. Then one day you'll come home from work and find that your fast-growing baby chickens have turned into Skeksis.
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Having chickens can be very rewarding but they are a large responsibility. They're highly amusing and will eventually present you with a regular supply of eggs.
Do you plan on getting chicks this spring?