How to Properly Care for Your Chicks and Older Chickens

Four Methods:Getting Your New Feathered FriendsThe Big BuildFeeding Chicks and ChickensOther Needs

Properly caring for chicks and chickens takes a lot of work, but it sure can be done! This includes feeding them and knowing the breeds.

Method 1
Getting Your New Feathered Friends

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    Decide where to get your chicks. You can buy them at a local feed store or find someone who hatches them often. It is suggested that you buy them from a feed store, because those stores sex them (find their gender) and give them vaccinations that will protect them from various diseases later in life. Before you get your chicks, have a box or a cage to put them in.
    • Line the bottom with newspaper for now and start to introduce hay and straw later. Have a food container with chick pellet designed especially for young chicks.
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    Have a water container prepared. Be warned that the waterer must be small enough that the chicks cannot fall in and drown. Put clean, colorful marbles in the water to prevent drowning and entice the chicks to peck at it (this method trains them to drink from the waterer).
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    Have a heat lamp pointed at one spot of the cage/box at all times so the chicks can keep warm. Other lamps work too, just be sure it is at least a 60 watt and is not too close to the chicks (you don't want to cook them alive!). Remember to have loads of newspaper; despite their size, chicks and chickens poop a lot.
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    Know the different breeds and their standards. Some are hardy for surviving in the cold and lay in the winter, and others for a more warm or hot place. Some breeds are even more likely to go broody (which means then hen will stop laying and prefer to sit and hatch eggs).
    • The breed you choose depends entirely on what your purpose is. Some people have chickens to get eggs for themselves, others to get eggs to sell, and others just want pets or show chickens ( yes, there are show chickens and those kind of competitions out there).
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    Make sure you pick a breed suitable for the environment you live in. Also be sure that you will have a place to build an outdoor pen when they get bigger.

Method 2
The Big Build

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    Build a coop sizeable to the number of chickens you have. You can move the chicks to an outdoor pen between four and five weeks of age.
    • Your big pen should have a door you can walk through, a big water container (chickens drink lots a water in the summer ), a big food container, roosts ( or pole the chickens fly up to, to sleep), and last but certainly not least, nesting boxes.
    • You need at least one nest per two chickens and no more than one nest for three. Make sure there is a roof, and a place to go to avoid the wind. Don't rush yourself into making bad nests, they don't start laying until between eight and fourteen months old. If the nests are on the wall, slightly tilt them forward when nailing them in.
    • The tilt will make the nest slightly uncomfortable; the hen doesn't roost there and doesn't become broody. (You can let a hen go broody, but it is best to move her out of the big pen and move her to a small pen by herself ). Put some straw or hay in the nests to soften the fall of the eggs when they are laid so they don't crack.
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    Protect your flock. While constructing you pen, make sure the wire is in the ground so nothing can dig its way in and so your chickens don't dig their way out. Stray or neighboring dogs and cats might try to make their way in, make you pen double wired (Try normal wire or fencing, then line it with chicken wire after ).
    • Don't forget about wild animals, like raccoons, possums, snakes, bobcats, or even birds of prey. Don't leave any holes in your pen, for most of wild raccoons and possums, if they can get their heads in, their body might follow.
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    • Always check around your pen for scratches in the ground or "attempts to breaks in". A rooster is a good line of defense when protecting you chickens from harm. A rooster though should have at least ten hens to prevent them from losing feathers (if a rooster has less than ten hens, he will end up over mating them and making the hens' backs featherless).
    • Some roosters can be "trained" to know not to attack you when you enter the pen. Others, however, will always be aggressive and should be taken into precaution when entering the pen. If a hen gets hurt, don't lose hope. You can give them Neosporin, bandages, and antibiotics for chickens. If a hen does get hurt, don't leave her in the pen. Chickens instinctively peck red; in this case, the red is blood.

Method 3
Feeding Chicks and Chickens

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    Give your chicks a special chick starter feed. Chick starter provides more protein and a balanced diet for your chicks to grow properly. Give them chick starter everyday until they are 6-8 weeks old.
    • Don't give your chicks a lot of feed as they are small and do not need as much as the older chickens.
    • Do not feed your chicks straight after they are born, feed them a day after hatching.
    • There are two types of chick starters, medicated and non-medicated. Consider giving them medicated if your chicks have suffered from coccidiosis in the past.
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    Give your older hens normal feed. Fully-grown hens do not need the special chick starter as they do not require as much protein, but there is a number of things that you can supply them with.
    • Mix crushed oyster shells in their feed for calcium so that they can lay healthy eggs (this is important if their eggs are soft).
    • Provide grit to grind down their food. Grit is only needed if your hens live in a shed or coop all their life, if they are free-ranged they will not need this as most of their diet is made up on the stuff they find in the ground.
    • Provide your hens with laying pellets at about 8 months old. Laying pellets is good for them to lay healthy and yummy eggs.
    • Give your chickens table scraps.They love it and its very good for them, just be aware that they cannot eat some foods such as citrus fruits, avocado, garlic, onions or raw potatoes.
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    Provide fresh water at all times. Make sure the water is not too deep for your chickens as they can fall in and drown, a water-feeder is best in this case.
    • Clean the feeder once a week (or every 2 weeks) and fill it with fresh water everyday.
    • Provide more than one water feeder if you have over 10 chickens. If you have free-ranged chickens provide one outside and one inside their coop.

Method 4
Other Needs

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    Clean the coop at least once a month. If you do not do this your chickens will become dirty, they will most likely get a disease, the eggs will become bad and the coop will probably get infested by mites, so make sure you put on some gloves and clean!
    • Throw away any bad eggs. If There are good eggs, keep them. To tell if an egg is bad put it inside a glass filled with water, if it floats it is bad but if it sinks it is good.
    • Dispose of all bedding (including the bedding in the nesting boxes). Do this by putting them in a garbage bag and throwing them in the bin.
    • Hose the coop down. This will dispose of all the chicken waste and clean all the dirt. If needed, scrub the coop down to make it extra clean.
    • Rinse all the feeders, bowls or tubs. If some dirt/food will not come off, scrub them.
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    Clean your chicken if it is very dirty and stands out because of its filth. Chickens naturally keep themselves clean but occasionally it is best to wash them to keep them looking their best.
    • Fill two tubs with water, one soapy and one clear. Put the chicken in the soapy tub and clean them. After, put the chicken in the clear tub to rinse off the soap. Dry your chicken properly to keep them from freezing to death.
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    Let your chickens be free once in a while. If your chickens live in a coop/shed consider letting them outside in a run or an enclosed garden. They can get lots of healthy treats from the ground and the grass is really good for them!
    • If you prefer not to let them outside, at least throw some grass in their coop.
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    Groom your chickens. To keep your chickens looking their best (and for other needs) consider grooming them.
    • Trim your roosters spurs. this is mostly important if you don't want to get stabbed by them when your rooster attacks.
    • Clip your chickens wings. Chickens can fly very high and escape, in this case it is best to clip them to avoid any injuries or escapes.
    • Trim your chickens beaks and claws. Beaks and claws can become very sharp at times and will do you some harm if you do not trim them.


  • You can have other pets like dogs or cats while you have chickens, you just have to train them to not attack the precious hens.
  • Don't be rough or drop a chicken, if she has an egg in her, and it breaks, she is more than likely than not to die.
  • Keep your hens happy; unhappy hens don't lay eggs. (The eggs you buy at the store more than likely come from an unhappy hen. They make her lay by giving her steroids, which is very sad).
  • Buy chicken treats at a feed store (give your hens dried grubs and every now and then some bread).
  • Remember that chickens make great pets, lay eggs and can be a real addition to the family; just do your homework and learn about them.

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Categories: Chickens