Whether you incubate eggs, pick up chicks locally or they arrive through the mail, you need to take care of some basics in order to properly care for your hatchlings. Newly hatched chicks don’t need much but 3 things are essential: a clean and secure area heated to 95 degrees, food and water, and appropriate bedding. If you provide them these basics you will avoid most problems that can occur with new chicks. However, even in this perfect environment be sure to keep an eye them. “Pasting” is very common within the first week and you’ll need to clean their little bums gently with warm water. There is a lot of information available on the internet about chick care so I won’t cover all of that here.
What I do want to share is my tried and true temporary housing for new chicks. Our setup for newly hatched chicks is super simple and cost effective. We have used this setup in order to keep the little chicks in our house as long as we can. We use a 50 Gallon plastic storage bin that is 43in x 22in x 18in that you can pick up for about $16 at the store. Since we have many indoor cats, we cover the bin with two pieces of rubber coated wire shelving and weight it down with books. From the shelving we hang a chicken light. We place some bricks on the bottom of the bin to raise up their feed and water dishes above the fine flake pine bedding. That’s it! For less than $50 you have a small chick house that you can put anywhere, is easy to clean and will house many chicks until they are big enough for a larger brooder box.
Lastly I want to share a warning about bedding choices – first, don’t use cedar bedding! The aromatic oils are too strong for their little chick lungs. Whatever bedding you choose, make sure it doesn’t make them slip. If it does, they can develop splayed or otherwise deformed legs. If you need to use newspaper, rip it up into pieces and fluff it up. Don’t put down flat newspaper, it will become too slippery for them from their droppings and spilled water.