If you’re feeling ready to add some baby chicks to your family, now is the time to start preparing! 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. We’ve put together the perfect baby chick supply shopping list, so you can get everything you need, easily and quickly!
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.
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Baby Chick Supply List
The brooder is the first thing 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 bin 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.
2. Heat Source
The heat source is the most important supply you’ll need for your chicks. Chicks raised in nature gather under their mother 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 heat lamp, secure the lamp and the cord in at least three ways so it doesn’t risk falling into the brooder.
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
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 towel- too expensive, needs replacing constantly
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. Chick water founts dispense a small amount of water at a time into a small reservoir. They’re well worth the $2 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. 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 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.
7. First Aid 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.
These are electrolytes and vitamins that you mix into the chicks water. It helps them to stay hydrated and healthy during times of stress.
These 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.
This 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.
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 farm supply stores 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 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.