The Essential Chick Days Shopping List

The Essential Chick Days Shopping List

What and where to buy — and how much it will cost

If you’re a first-timer raising chicks this season, you’re likely doing some research on exactly what you need to bring home to ensure they’re happy, healthy, secure and have a long life ahead of them. That research may feel like information overload, so we’ve boiled it down to just the essentials for you — from their living environment to their feed. Here’s what you need to know on what and where to buy, as well as roughly how much it will cost you.

Where to buy Chick Days supplies

Both online retailers such as Amazon and Chewy, as well as local feed stores and fleet retailers carry all the essentials. Many of the fleet retailers also offer online shopping with delivery and/or in-store pick-up options, which can save some time (and some physical effort) to round up all the supplies — and the chicks — in-person. Examples of fleet retailers that carry all necessary materials for their living environment and also carry our Home Fresh® Feed lines, include: Tractor Supply, Blain’s Farm & Fleet, Runnings, Orscheln Farm and Home, Fleet Farm and Rural King, among others. Many local independent feed and farm shops also carry all the necessary supplies. To find a retailer near you, try our retailer finder.

What to buy during Chick Days

Chick brooder (AKA broiler house). A brooder is simply a small enclosure for your chicks. While many people choose to create home-made brooders, buying one from a retailer will ensure it’s built to last and adequately protect from drafts, while still having adequate ventilation. Make sure the brooder provides at least 2 square feet per chick and is at least 12 inches tall. If you select something less than 2 feet tall, you may also want some netting to cover the top, as chicks are surprisingly good flyers compared to full-grown chickens. If you select one with 90-degree-angle corners, it’s a good idea to block the corners of the pen with cardboard to make wider angles that are harder for chicks to pack up in, as this will prevent suffocation.

A heat lamp or heat plate and thermometer. Baby chicks need to be kept pretty hot. The first week of their lives they require an air temperature of 95º, the second week 90º and so on — going down by 5º per week until they're ready to transition to "outside". A 250-watt infrared heat lamp is the best way to achieve this, placed right in the middle of their area and suspended off the ground. Make sure to always use red bulbs, as white bulbs can encourage pecking. The height of the light should be adjusted to achieve your target temperature. Lamp height can be determined by paying close attention to how your chicks behave. If they're all crowded together directly under the heat source, they're too cold. Lower the heat lamp or add another one. If they're around the edges of the brooder, avoiding the heat, they're too hot! Raise the heat lamp.

Absorbent bedding. Baby chicks are big poopers, so line their floor with an absorbent material. We recommend pine shavings spread about 1-inch thick. Resist the urge to use newspaper! It's not nearly as absorbent and the slippery surface can lead to a permanent deformity called "splayed leg". Never use cedar shavings, no matter what people may tell you. The aromatic oils will irritate your chicks' lungs, and make them more susceptible to respiratory problems later in life.

      • What you’ll spend: Pine shavings are typically between $5-10 per 3.25 cubic feet bag. Depending on the size of your brooder, you may need several bags. Here’s an affordable pine shavings option from Runnings.

 Drinker/Waterer. We don't recommend using a dish, rabbit drinker, or anything else you have lying around. Ensure that waterers are shallow and are cleaned daily in order to avoid having drowned chicks. We would recommend to always have multiple waterers available, so that they won’t crowd one another.

      • What you’ll spend: Smaller waterers can be found for under $10, but you’ll likely want to buy several, depending on the size of your flock, and as they grow, you will likely want to upgrade to something bigger, which can be found typically for $25-$50. Here are some starter waterer and 3-gallon waterer options from Fleet Farm.

Chicken feeder. Once again, we recommend you resist the temptation to use just any dish or bowl for feeding. Baby chicks are messy and they'll jump in and kick the feed all over the place and then poop in it. Worst-case scenario, they'll tip it over and trap a baby underneath. Spend those few extra dollars and buy a real baby chick feeder.

Chicken feed. Chickens have different nutritional needs at different life stages. Baby chicks need higher protein levels than hens and lower calcium levels. We recommend a chick starter feed from hatching up to eight weeks, and we offer several formulations – each of which offers protein levels between 20-23% with calcium levels less than 1.5%. Our options include: Home Fresh Starter AMP, which is a medicated formula to guard against coccidiosis; Home Fresh Multi-Flock Starter / Grower 22, which is an unmedicated option for those who intend to rely on the chicks’ natural immunity-building capabilities; and Home Fresh Organic Starter, for those who want to raise an organic flock.

      • What you’ll spend: All of the aforementioned feeds are available from a range of fleet stores, dealers and online retailers. As an example, you can expect to pay around $25 per 50-pound bag of Home Fresh Starter AMP. Find a dealer here to get your local pricing. And don’t wait! For a limited time, you can claim your $5 off coupon.

Grit. Chickens eat tiny pebbles and store them in their crop. Food enters their crop and the pebbles grind it up to make digestion easier. For baby chicks – sand, parakeet or canary gravel, will suffice. You can sprinkle this right into their feed, but make sure you’re buying grit that is fine enough for small chicks.

So, how much does it cost to start raising chicks?

 Tallying up the costs of all the supplies we’ve mentioned, it’s likely you can get everything you need for less than $200 if you’re starting with a smaller flock. We’ve mentioned a number of different retailers – all of which should be able to provide everything you need. To find your local retailer, try our retailer finder. Happy Chick Days!

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