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Baby Chick Supplies : 7 Things to Buy Before Chicks Arrive

If you’re feeling ready to add some baby chicks to your family, now is the time to start preparing! We’ve put together the perfect baby chick supplies shopping list, so you can get everything you need, easily and quickly!

Chicks don’t need much to be happy and healthy, but there are several items you’ll absolutely need in your arsenal before those sweet peepers arrive.

Most of these supplies can be found in a farm supply store, but if you don’t have one close by, you can always order them from Amazon and have them delivered.

This post contains affiliate links.

A  yellow chick in the grass.

Baby Chick Supplies Shopping List

Baby Chick Supplies Shopping List

1. Brooder Box

The chick brooder is the first supply to buy for your chicks. The brooder is simply the place where your chicks will live until they’re 4-6 weeks old and can move to the chicken coop. The brooder keeps them contained and safe while they’re wee little babies.

There are tons of great options for your brooder, and many of them are free! A large plastic tote or cardboard box will work just fine if you have one handy. We’ve seen fellow chicken keepers use old playpens, unused bathtubs, and large feed troughs to brood their chicks as well.

We’ve tried all different types of brooders over the years, and have recently landed on a favorite. We use a large rabbit cage to brood our chicks and it’s the perfect solution. The cage keeps the chicks contained, even when they start learning to fly and jump.

The chicks can see out of the cage which gives them some entertainment throughout the day. We also usually place a large stick through the cage rungs for an easy roosting bar for the chicks, they love it!

The best part is, it’s easy to take apart and very easy to clean so we can re-use it for years to come! This one-time investment has served us well for years, and we also pull it out when we have a sick or broody hen that needs to be separated from the flock.

Learn more about the do’s and don’ts of brooding baby chicks

A gray and white baby chick.

2. Heat Source

The heat source is the most important supply you’ll need for your chicks. Chicks raised in nature gather under the mother hen for warmth. When you’re raising the chicks on your own, it’s up to you to provide them with constant warmth.

Good Heat Sources

  • Brinsea Eco Glow– This is the ideal heat source for your chicks. Yes it’s expensive, but you buy it once and can use it forever. It’s the safest and most reliable heater you can have for your chicks.
  • Heat Lamp– This is the second best heat source for your chicks, but if you choose to use one, be extra vigilant! Heat lamps cause fires every single year due to misuse. If you choose to use a brooder lamp, secure the lamp and the cord in at least three ways so it doesn’t risk falling into the brooder. I also suggest getting a heat lamp with a cage on the front to protect the heat bulb, and putting chicken wire or hardware cloth across the top of your brooder so it can catch the lamp if it does fall. It may seem like overkill but I’ve had these lamps fail more than once!

Bad Heat Sources

  • Wood Stove– this heat fluctuates too much and needs constant attention from you.
  • Heating Pad These generally don’t get warm enough, have automatic shut-offs, or can pose a fire risk if left on all the time
  • Space Heater– Draws too much power, heat fluctuates, may auto-shutoff

Bad Heat Sources

  • Wood Stove– this heat fluctuates too much and needs constant attention from you.
  • Heating Pad These generally don’t get warm enough, have automatic shut-offs, or can pose a fire risk if left on all the time
  • Space Heater– Draws too much power, heat fluctuates, may auto-shutoff
A yellow baby chick sitting down.

3. Bedding/Litter

Every brooder needs a bedding source to soak up manure and give your chicks a cozy place to cuddle up. Chick bedding should be easy to replace, comfortable, absorbent, and safe for your chicks.

We always use pine shavings for brooder bedding because it’s inexpensive and cozy for the chicks. There are, however a few other options!

Good Litter Choices:

Bad Litter Choices

  • Cat Litter– Chicks will eat it, too much dust, bad for their health
  • Flat or Shredded Newspaper– Not absorbent, can cause leg and toe issues in chicks
  • Paper Towels– too expensive, needs replacing constantly
  • Cedar Shavings – too aromatic, can lead to respiratory problems

Some chicken keepers do choose to put layers of paper towel on top of their shavings, straw, or hemp bedding for the first few days. This might be a good choice if you see your chicks trying to eat the bedding. There’s nothing wrong with using paper towel in the brooder, it just isn’t the most economical choice.

Check out more about your bedding & litter options for your chicken coop!

A gray and white chick standing up.

4. Chick Waterer

Chick water founts are inexpensive and so worthwhile. It’s never a good idea to give your chicks water out of a bowl, as they could drown in the water and will quickly foul it up by roosting on the edge of the bowl.

New baby chicks need a constant supply of fresh water, and you may find that they spend as much time playing in their water as they do drinking it! A chick water fount prevents the chicks from standing in or walking through their water, which will keep it fresher for longer.

Chick water founts dispense a small amount of water at a time into a small reservoir. They’re well worth the $5 price tag and will last for many years.

5. Chick Feeder

A chick feeder isn’t absolutely necessary, but will save you money over time. You can feed your chicks out of a ceramic bowl, but the chicks will waste a lot of the feed this way.

Young chicks love to get into feed bowls and kick the feed out, or take a dust bath in the feed bowl, spreading the feed all over the brooder.

Chick feeders are ideal because they feature small holes for the chicks to eat out of, so they can’t kick the feed. They’re definitely worth buying and again, will last for many years and save on the feed bill.

6. Chick Feed

There are two main types of chick starter feed to choose from, medicated and non-medicated. This decision is a personal one, and there are pros and cons to each type. Medicated feed helps to prevent Coccidiosis in your chickens.

Choosing whether or not to use medicated feed depends a lot on where you acquire your chicks. Many hatcheries vaccinate against Coccidiosis, so using medicated feed would be pointless. Some hatcheries, however, don’t vaccinate, and if you hatch your own chicks, you likely won’t be vaccinating them.

Coccidiosis is a dangerous and devastating disease that can wipe out your whole flock quickly. Many chicken keepers believe it’s better to be safe than sorry.

For more information on medicated vs unmedicated, check out this informative article by City Girl Farming.

A note on chick grit: If you are only feeding your chicks chick feed, you don’t need grit. If you decide to feed your chicks kitchen scraps, however, you will need to also supply them with a bowl of chick grit to help them digest the food. We recommend waiting to add fun foods like kitchen scraps until your chicks are at least a few weeks old.

Looking for healthy treats for your chicks? Here are 20 Healthy Treats for Chickens

A yellow chick standing up.

7. First Aid Baby Chick Supplies

As with humans, it’s best to have first aid supplies before an emergency strikes. You just never know what’s going to come at you when you’re raising livestock, so stocking up on first aid supplies is a must. We like to put these items all together in an animal first aid kit so it’s ready when we need it.

  • Sav-A-ChickThese are electrolytes and vitamins that you mix into the chicks water. It helps them to stay hydrated and healthy during times of stress.
  • Sav-A-Chick ProbioticThese are probiotics that are mixed in with the drinking water. These work well to help with chick digestion and have cured many runny chicken poops around our homestead!
  • Neosporin (Non-pain relief) This is a great thing to keep on hand for any animal wounds. Be sure to get the kind without pain relief. We put neosporin on chick and hen wounds to help them heal faster and prevent infection.
  • Blu KoteThis is a wonderful substance that is super helpful when treating wounds. It’s antiseptic and germicidal to help prevent infection and heal wounds. It also turns the wound blue! This may seem strange, but turning the wound blue will prevent other chicks from pecking at it and making a bad situation worse.
A black and white chick standing up.

Now that you have your chick shopping list, you’re ready to do the fun part and shop! All of these supplies can be picked up at your local feed store like Tractor Supply, or Amazon. Be sure to have all of these supplies purchased and set up before you bring any chicks home!

Once you have all your baby chick supplies, you’re ready to pick out some chicks! Don’t miss our post, Pickin’ Chicken, to help you decide on breeds that will be right for your family.

You can buy baby chickens during chick days at any farm supply stores in your area. We hope you have fun with your new little friends!

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Lwantale Angella

Friday 29th of April 2022

I have learnt a lot. Thanks so much. Are also coffee shavings good to use as a litter?


Friday 29th of April 2022

I've actually never heard of using coffee shavings for litter! That's not something we have available around here. You can certainly give it a try and see how well it works. As long it's absorbent and non toxic for animals, it should be fine!


Friday 2nd of October 2020


Jennifer Dysert Mensch

Saturday 16th of May 2020

Don’t you need grit as well to mix in with their food?


Saturday 6th of June 2020

Chicks only need chick grit if they're eating kitchen scraps or other non-chick food. Also, grit should always be offered free choice in a separate container, not mixed in with their feed. :)

Donovan Dimico

Sunday 19th of April 2020

Thank you for the information, as I am new to this, it is very helpful and eased some of my concerns.