If you’re considering adding some chicks to your coop, the ideal time to prepare is now. Many people ask themselves “What Brooder Supplies do I need for baby chicks?” then they search for answers online and they get confused by the information. Looking after chicks is easy if you have the right brooder supplies and you understand how to use them. The supplies can be purchased at a local farm supply store, or you can order them online and have them delivered to your home.
The chicken brooder supplies must be your priority. This is where the chicks will reside until they reach 6-8 weeks of age and then they can be relocated to the main coop. The brooder is a haven, it’s a safe place for the chicks to live when they are tiny and vulnerable.
There are many options to consider and some of them are free solutions that work well. Some examples that we’ve seen, include a thick cardboard box, an old bathtub, large unused feed troughs, and many more. If you do an image search for a chick brooder, you will see a wide range of DIY and brooder kit solutions.
Before you choose a chick brooder, there are three main factors to consider.
- The Walls: These must be high enough to prevent the chicks from escaping and you may need to place an item over the top to get the job done. The ideal height is 2 feet, a shorter height can be covered with netting, but this makes it harder to scoop up a chick.
- The Heating: We will cover heating for chicks later, but the solution that you choose must work with the type of heat source that you are using.
- The Size: The brooder needs to be large enough to accommodate the chicks, as they grow rapidly and the area needs to accommodate their food and water.
If the chick brooder fulfills these three requirements, it should work for you.
Baby Chick Bedding
A key element in every brooder is the bedding. It’s a cozy place for chicks to sleep and it soaks up the manure to keep them safe and healthy. The chick bedding that you choose needs to be absorbent, comfortable, safe, and easy to clean. One of the more popular choices is compressed wood pellets.
Five Benefits of Using Wood Pellets for Bedding in the Chicken Brooder:
- The Odor: Fresh wood pellets smell great and they keep the foul manure odors to a minimum.
- Heat Absorption: The wood will absorb heat from a heat lamp which will create a comfy surface for the chicks to live on and the warmth dries out the manure.
- Less Mess: Wood pellets break down into sawdust as they become wet, but they retain their shape and this reduces the amount of dust and mess.
- Easy Cleaning: The dirty pellets are easy to remove with a dustpan and they leave little to no manure on a metal or plastic surface.
- The Cost: Wood pellets are inexpensive, a large bag costs less than $10 and you only need a thin layer on the surface of the brooder.
Wood pellets are a great chick bedding solution, but there are a couple of other options that may meet your needs.
- Hay: If you have a lot of hay this is a cheap alternative, but it’s disgusting when covered in manure and cleanup can be a messy process.
- Wood Shavings: These can work, but they are less absorbent and they can be displaced into the drinking water.
There are four materials that are a bad choice for chicken brooder lining.
- Cat Litter: This seems like an obvious solution, but chicks can eat it, it creates dust and it’s bad for their overall health.
- Cedar Shavings: These should be avoided because they can cause respiratory issues.
- Paper Towels: These need to be replaced constantly and they are too expensive.
- Shredded Newspaper: This is not an absorbent material and the sharp paper edges can cause toe and leg problems for your chicks.
Some people attempt to compensate for a lack of performance by layering paper towels over straw or shavings at earlier stages. This may be a good choice if the chicks are eating their bedding, but the main problem with paper towels is that they are an expensive option.
Baby Chicken Waterer
Baby chicks need plenty of freshwater, but they will play in it if they get the opportunity and that will degrade the water quality. An inexpensive solution to this problem is a chick water fount that periodically dispenses clean water into a small drinking reservoir. You can get a water fount for around $5, they are a sound investment and they tend to last a long time.
Baby Chicken Feeders
Feeding chicks with a ceramic bowl will work, but it’s inefficient and a lot of feed will be wasted. Chicks tend to kick feed around or take a dust bath in it and this spreads it all around the brooder. A better option is a dedicated chick feeder, it has small eating holes and chicks cannot get in to take an impromptu bath.
When you fill the chicken feeder, there are two main feed choices to consider, they are: medicated and non-medicated. The main health risk for baby chicks is Coccidiosis which can kill an entire flock in next to no time. Medicated feed prevents Coccidiosis, but many breeders vaccinate their chicks which makes medicated feed unnecessary. If you’re unsure about the vaccination of your chicks, choose medicated feed to keep them safe.
If your chicks are restricted to eating chick feed, you will not need to add grit to their diet. But, if you want to feed them kitchen straps you need a bowl of grit to aid their digestion. Adding kitchen scraps can be beneficial, but it’s advisable to limit their diet to feed until they are a few weeks old.
How to keep the baby chicks warm
Chicks need heat, in nature, they snuggle up to their mother, but when you are raising them, it’s your responsibility to keep them warm.
- A Heat Lamp: These require vigilance, they are good, but they can start fires if they are set too high or left unattended near flammable materials. The cord should be secured in at least three ways to ensure that it doesn’t fall in the brooder. A brooder lamp with a metal cage that prevents direct contact is a great way to protect the heat bulb. Adding a layer of chicken wire on the top of the brooder is another way to safeguard against a falling heat lamp.
- The Brinsea Eco Glow: This is a safe and reliable heater, it’s an expensive product, but it’s designed for years of service.
There are three heat sources that are a bad choice for your brooder.
- Space Heater: The heat is too erratic, they may have an auto-shutoff feature and they are expensive to run.
- Heating Pads: These are not sufficiently warm, they are a fire risk and they have an auto shut-off feature.
- Wood Stove: These need constant attention and the heat fluctuates.
Brooder Supplies for Baby Chicks in Conclusion
We hope that we’ve answered the question, what do I need for baby chicks? These supplies are readily available at farm supply stores, but you can find them online if you don’t have a store in your area. Using these supplies will keep your little chick happy and healthy as they grow and develop.