Caring for baby chickens is a full-time endeavor. Proper housing, a heat source and the ability to meet their nutritional needs should be considered before bringing chicks home, whether you are seeking a pet or starting your own flock.
Chicks usually hatch after a 21-day incubation period. While in the egg, the chick grows to take up all the room inside except the air cell.
Need for Heat
Chicks need warmth until they are feathered. A common heat-ray lamp kept 15 to 20 in. above the chicks is an inexpensive choice for a small flock.
Feed and Water
Chicks should be fed as much as they will eat of a special commercial diet. They need fresh water offered in a pan that will not tip over easily.
Chicks are susceptible to predators and disease. Housing should be safe from outside animals. All surfaces should be disinfected before the chicks arrive and at regular intervals afterward.
Growth and Maturity
Female chicks are called pullets until they are 1 year old. At age 6 months, they begin to lay their own eggs.
Baby chicks can breathe before they hatch. An eggshell may seem solid, but it actually contains about 8,000 pores large enough for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.