baby-chick-feeding tips

πŸ£πŸ’‘ 17 Egg-cellent Tips and Ideas for Baby Chick Feeding 🌱🍼

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I remember the first time I tried to feed my baby chicks.

Picture this: a city slicker turned amateur farmer, standing in the middle of a coop with a handful of feed, surrounded by a feathery frenzy.

I thought, “How hard could it be? Chickens eat anything, right?” Wrong.

Those little fluff balls scattered like I was trying to feed them veggies at a kids’ party. And that’s when one bold chick, who I fondly named Nugget, decided that my shoelaces were the real gourmet treat.

Let’s just say, I learned the hard way that when it comes to baby chick feeding, there’s a pecking order to doing it right.

So, how do you feed baby chicks without turning into a human playground? And what’s the secret to keeping those tiny beaks happy and healthy?

What to Feed Baby Chicks

baby-chick-feeding tips

  • Starter Feed: This is the chick equivalent of baby formula. Packed with protein, it’s the go-to grub for the first 6 weeks.
  • Grains & Greens: Think of these as the side salad. A little taste here and there helps them get used to different textures and tastes.
  • Protein Punch: Mealworms and small insects are like the chicken nuggets for chicks – they go crazy for them!

I used to think I could just give my chicks crumbs from my sandwiches and crackers when they were babies.

Boy was I wrong! Baby chicks need specific feeds and treats to get the nutrition they need to grow big and strong.

Here’s what I give my baby chicks so they get a good start:

Chick starter feed is a must – this feed comes in crumbles that are easy for chicks to eat.

It’s got lots of protein from soybean meal to build strong muscles and carbohydrates for energy.

There are also added vitamins and minerals like calcium and phosphorus for proper bone development.

I like the Purina Start & Grow crumbles since they have probiotics to support digestive health too.

Clean, fresh water is super important and needs to be available at all times.

I use a chick waterer with a narrow opening so the chicks don’t fall in and get soaked.

Tiny bits of grit help chicks grind up and digest their food since they don’t have teeth to chew it up.

I sprinkle a pinch of chick-sized grit into their feed every few days.

Finally, treats are fine to give, but only after the chicks are eating starter feed well.

A few times a week I offer scratch grains, chopped greens, or even mealworms as a snack.

Just a bite or two is plenty for their tiny tummies.

How Much and How Often to Feed Chicks

How Much and How Often to Feed Chicks

It’s easy to overfeed chicks since they always seem hungry, but Too much can cause fast growth or diarrhea.

The best thing is to keep their feeder full so they can nibble whenever they want.

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This is called free choice feeding and lets the chicks eat as much as they need.

Since chicks grow so fast, I refill the feeder 2-3 times a day, even if it still has some feed.

It’s a pain, but it prevents the feed from getting stale or soggy.

For the first 4-6 weeks, I also sprinkle a pinch of grit into their feeder 1-2 times a week.

They need extra grit as babies while their digestive systems develop.

I start offering treats when the chicks are about 3-4 weeks old.

At first, I only give a few bite-sized treats 2-3 times a week.

Things like dried mealworms, chopped veggies, or sunflower seeds make great options.

As they get older, I may increase treats to 1-2 times a day but still keep them bite-sized.

What’s the Deal with Water?

How Much and How Often to Feed Chicks

Think of water as the soda pop for chicks – they need it, but it’s gotta be fresh and clean. No one likes a dirty drink, and that goes double for these little guys.

  • Keep it Fresh: Change the water daily to prevent a funky chicken cocktail.
  • Temperature Matters: Lukewarm is the sweet spot. Too hot or cold, and you’ll see some puckered beaks.
  • No Diving Allowed: Use a shallow waterer to prevent any unscheduled swim lessons.

Remember, hydration is key. A hydrated chick is a happy chick!

Tips for Preventing Common Feeding Issues

Tips for Preventing Common Feeding Issues

  • Overfeeding Treats: It’s like giving candy before dinner. Too many goodies spoil their appetite for the real nutrition.
  • Using the Wrong Feeder: If it’s too high, they’ll think it’s a mountain to climb, not a dinner plate.
  • Forgetting the Grit: Just like we need teeth to chew, chicks need grit to grind up their food. Don’t leave them gumming their grub!

It’s easy to run into problems if chicks aren’t fed properly.

Here are some of my tips for avoiding headaches:

Use chick-sized feed and grit to prevent choking hazards.

The crumbles need to be small enough for their little beaks.

I wait until chicks are eating starter well before offering treats.

Otherwise they may get picky and only eat the “good stuff”.

Shallow, narrow feeders prevent a ton of waste.

Too much room and the chicks scratch half the feed out onto the brooder floor.

Once feed gets damp or moldy, I toss it.

Feeders need frequent cleaning to prevent mold.

Dehydration is no joke – I check the waterers multiples times daily.

Chicks poop in their water sometimes or it gets tipped over.

To prevent fighting, I make sure the feeder has enough space for all the chicks to eat together.

Overcrowding causes unnecessary pecking.

Making Feeding Easier on You

Tips for Preventing Common Feeding Issues

Here are some things I do to make feeding my chicks less of a headache:

Automatic poultry waterers are awesome.

No more constant refilling for this chicken mama!

I add feeder ladders so chicks can reach their feed as they grow.

Otherwise the little ones can’t reach and I have to raise the feeder daily.

Quality metal feeders last forever and have a roller to adjust height.

Plastic breaks easily but metal is nearly indestructible.

A small scoop makes it easy to accurately portion out feed.

Otherwise I’d be guessing on measurements.

Raising chicks has been a learning experience for sure!

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Following these tips has really helped me keep my chicks happy and growing.

Let me know if you need any other advice for your new fuzzy flock!

Setting Up the Brooder for Feeding Time

Having the right brooder setup makes feeding time way less stressful.

Here are some of my tips for getting the brooder ready for chow time:

Use chick feeders and waterers made just for baby fowl – they are the right size.

The edges need to be narrow so tiny chicks don’t fall in and drown.

Place the feeders and waterers on opposite sides – this prevents food from getting wet.

Put feeders and waterers on cardboard or wood. It’s easier to clean than the brooder floor.

Elevate feeders and waterers. You can make platforms from bricks or wood blocks.

This keeps the litter drier since the chicks don’t scratch as much food out.

Add marbles or river rocks to the water. It keeps the chicks from drowning if they fall in.

Use extra feeders and space them out. More spots to eat prevents crowding.

Hang dangling waterers at chick eye level. Low waters just get pooped in.

Follow all these tips and you’ll have happy, well-fed chicks in no time!

Transitioning Chicks to the Big Coop

The chicks will outgrow the brooder as they get bigger and need more space.

Here’s my advice for transitioning them to the main coop:

Wait until fully feathered to avoid chilling. I usually transfer at 6-8 weeks.

Do it during nice weather. Avoid cold, wet, or overly hot days.

Keep providing chick starter feed for another 1-2 weeks after moving.

Gradually transition to layer feed by mixing the two for awhile.

Put roosts low at first so young birds can easily perch.

Ensure the feeder and waterer openings are still chick-sized.

Enlarge space as needed. Chicks will need room to move and flap wings.

Watch for bullying. Bigger birds may pick on littler ones.

Make sure chicks know where feed and water is located in new home.

Move to the coop during the day so chicks get oriented before dark.

Follow this advice and the transition to the big coop will go smoothly!

Best Treats for Baby Chicks

Treats are fun but don’t go overboard. A few bites are plenty.

Here are some of my chick’s favorite healthy treats:

Mealworms – high in protein. Offer dried or roasted ones to young chicks.

Chopped greens like lettuce, kale, or spinach – good for vitamins.

Cooked oatmeal – provides extra carbohydrates for growth.

Seeds like millet, sunflower, pumpkin – offer a variety.

Berries like strawberries or raspberries – rich in antioxidants.

Apple cider vinegar – helps balance gut bacteria when diluted in water.

Plain yogurt – offers probiotics for digestion. Go easy on this messy one!

Corn cut fresh from the cob – sweet treat chicks go crazy for!

Scrambled eggs – full of protein for feathers and building muscle.

Always chop treats into bite-sized pieces. Have fun surprising your flock!

My all time favorites:

  • Mealworms: Like chick candy, but packed with protein. A little goes a long way.
  • Greens: Think of these as the salad bar. Fresh, chopped up, and in moderation.
  • Cooked Eggs: Yep, it’s a bit like feeding a chicken an omelet, but they love it and it’s a protein boost.
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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Feeding Chicks

It’s easy to mess up when you’re new to chick care. Here are some common mistakes I’ve made:

Not replacing feed and water often enough – chicks are messy and make a soggy mess fast!

Offering treats too soon – wait until chicks are eating starter feed well first.

Using feed with medication – never give medicated feed to chicks not intended for meat.

No grit – chicks can’t digest food properly without tiny gravel pieces.

Feeding stale or moldy feed – dispose of any expired or spoiled feed right away.

Using adult chicken feed – it’s too high in calcium and protein for chick growth.

Leaving feed in reach of wild birds – protects your flock from contamination.

Not securing waterers – tip-proof ones prevent chicks from drowning.

Going overboard on treats – a few bites of treats per chick is plenty.

Making sudden feed changes – transition gradually to avoid digestive upset.

Trust me, I learned these lessons the hard way! Hopefully you can avoid my mistakes.

Savvy Tips for Saving Cash on Chick Feed

Specialty feeds can get pricy, but here are my tips for cutting costs:

Buy feed in bulk – large bags are cheaper per pound than small ones.

Shop at farm stores – avoid boutique prices at urban feed shops.

Mix your own feed – use purchased grains and supplements to customize.

Offer veggie kitchen scraps – leftovers like greens and squash trim costs.

Grow sprouts – easily grown and packed with vitamins!

Ferment feed – soaking and fermenting reduces waste.

Choose cheaper grains – experiment with oats or barley instead of pricy corn.

Supplement with range feeding – reduces feed needs if chicks graze on grass and bugs.

Grow a chick-friendly garden – saves on store-bought produce for treats.

With some creativity, you can keep your feathered friends fed on a budget!

FAQs on Feeding Baby Chicks

When can chicks drink water? Right away – keep clean water available at all times!

Do chicks need grit? Yes, tiny gravel pieces help them grind and digest feed.

How often to clean feeders? Daily or even twice a day. Chicks are messy!

Can you feed chickens scratch? Only as a treat in moderation after 6 weeks old.

How long on starter feed? Keep feeding starter for 4-6 weeks before transitioning.

What can baby chicks eat? Starter feed plus small treats like greens, seeds, or mealworms.

Is oatmeal good for chicks? Cooked plain oatmeal makes a nutritious, affordable treat.

Can chicks eat egg? Yes, scrambled eggs provide protein for growth.

When to introduce treats? After 3-4 weeks once eating starter feed well.

How much food do chicks need? Free choice feed them – keep their dish full.

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