Raising baby chicks is exciting, but feeding day old baby chicks can be a little bit scary! But have no fear, if you have the right tools it’s easy peasy.
In this video, we’ve got a new batch of little cuties that were just born! The problem is what to feed them from now until they’re ready for more advanced cuisine.
In this video, I’ll show you what I feed my newborn chicks.
- The Feed
- The Mess
- The Bowl
As soon as chicks are born, even day-old chicks, we feed them an 18% chick starter with herbs in it. It’s our own special blend. And the reason we feed that is that it has 18% protein in it. It has all the nutrients that they need to grow from being chicks to healthy layers. And we like to have the herbs in there because the herbs help them stay healthy.
We started packaging this and selling it is because people ask me constantly on my website: Where do I get my feed? What do I feed? Why do I feed that? What herbs can I use?
Providing our mix to people just makes it easier for their chicks to access the same things that I use without having to go through the rigmarole of mixing it themselves. (You can view our herbal chick starter here) Our chick starter is not a medicated feed because it has tiny bits of oregano and garlic which serve the same purpose, only naturally. Coccidiosis is a serious parasite infestation and oregano and garlic helps avoid it. Read more about that here.
Regardless, you will want to feed the chicks a crumble, and not pellets. Pellets will be too large for baby chicks to eat.
You might notice that it’s pretty messy in my brooder. The chicks get their feed everywhere. That’s actually a good thing because it shows that they’re eating.
One of the biggest concerns I personally had when I first started raising chicks was whether or not they would actually eat enough to grow. If they don’t eat, they don’t grow, which is bad. The mess tells me that they’re eating and I’m happy with that.
When chicks are day olds, I use a small, low bowl for their feed. That’s very intentional.
I’ve tried other feeders for the first couple of days of their lives, but with the hundreds and hundreds of chicks that I’ve raised, I’ve noticed the chicks have a hard time finding the food in juvenile feeders. Right after they’re born, they’re disoriented and tired because it’s hard hatching.
A bowl where they can just walk on top of the food makes it easier for them to find the food, and – most importantly – to eat. It’s the perfect, and easy, chick feeder.
As they get older, I’ll switch to a bigger feeder (like I show in this video). As day olds though, they don’t really understand how to use the bigger feeders, you have to teach them. So for the sake of making sure that they are eating and are healthy, I just use a little dish.
So obviously they really like their feed, the bowl is easy to use and they’re healthy.
Encouraging Chicks To Eat
Something else I like to give chicks during the first weeks of their life and really until the time that they’re adults are dried tiny shrimp. They are sometimes a little hard to find, but I have a back up option that will serve the same purpose. It’s called Chickeratti and it’s packed full of goodness.
I like dried shrimp because they’re tiny. They’re easy to crush and they’re full of protein and they’re irresistible to chickens of all ages.
Especially in the first couple of days of their life, I’m very worried that my chicks are not eating as much as they should. Treats that are full of protein, like these dried tiny shrimps, make it almost impossible for chicks not to eat. They love them so much that they swarm.
All I do to feed them is just put them right in the dish. These treats are not in place of chick starter feed, it’s just a supplement and to ensure that my chicks are getting as much protein and as many nutrients into their body as possible so that they grow healthy.
There you have it! My little day-olds and I hope you’ve gotten a good feel for a convenient and balanced starting diet to help your chicks grow as strong and healthy as possible.
Extra Chick tips
- We didn’t talk about how to set up your brooder box in this post, but you can learn more about that here. You can use wood shavings to absorb the droppings of the chicks. There are a variety of shavings like pine shavings and cedar shavings for their brooder box, I prefer large pine shavings so they can’t eat it! Watch a video about that here.
- Should you use a heat lamp for your brooder? There are things to consider and you can read more about this imporatant topic here.
- Once your chicks have grown for a couple of weeks, you can start introducing them to other things like chick grit, vitamins, minerals, meal worms, corn, calcium, and an oyster shell mix. Baby chickens love trying new things and it provides entertainment for them as well.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.