Perhaps it goes without saying that you will need to food for chicks, but what may not be immediately obvious is that you will not be able to use the same feeders or feed as you do for mature chickens. Just like human babies, baby chickens need specially formulated food and feeders designed for their small bodies.
If you plan to raise your flock organically, then your decision is made for you. Stick with organic food for chicks from the start, and you will know your eggs or meat will be organic too.
The decision between traditional starter and medicated starter depends on how susceptible your flock is to disease and if you had your chicks immunized.
If your chicks were given an immunization for coccidiosis by the breeder, do not give them medicated starter. Giving an immunized chick medicated starter risks neutralizing their vaccine.
There are three primary types of feed that you can consider.
If your chicks were not immunized by the breeder, then your decision to get medicated or traditional starter comes down to how susceptible your chicks are to disease.
If you decide to use organic or traditional non-medicated starter there are several actions you can take to minimize the risk of them getting sick, including:
- Keep your brooder clean
- Keep your litter clean and dry
- Refresh water supplies regularly and sanitize your chick waterer daily
- Prevent chicks from getting excrement into water and food supplies
- Keep chicks out of warm humid weather (e.g., target spring hatches)
You will need a total of about 10 lbs of starter per chick, for the first 10 weeks of their life. Obviously, you don’t need to buy all of this starter at once, but make sure you don’t run out!
Purchasing your chick starter is critical, but don’t forget you need a way to present the feed to your new birds. Initially, you should simply sprinkle the starter feed on a paper towel or paper plate. You can graduate within a couple days to a plastic coffee can lid or paper shoe box cover.
The bottom line is that after a couple days, your chicks will begin to scratch feed out of simple feeders like those mentioned above. Once this scratching begins, you know it is time to move into a more traditional chick feeder.
The following are some of the various chick starter foods that we carry:
The following are a few of the various chick feeder products that we carry:
Chick feeders are designed to:
- Reduce contamination from fecal matter
- Allow easy cleaning and sanitation
- Limit spills
Regardless of whether you purchase a round jar feeder or a trough, you will need one feed opening per chick. So, if your feeder has eight slots, it is large enough for up to eight chicks.
You will want to clean your feeders thoroughly at least once a week, and try to avoid letting them be empty for extended amounts of time because lack of food will encourage bad behaviors like picking.