When you have day-old chicks up until they’re 16 weeks, you might notice that your baby chicks make loud noises. In case you didn’t already know, we call that “cheeping.” During this very important time of your chicks’ lives, if they are cheeping very loudly, you’re might not be sure exactly what the problem is or why they seem distressed. All you know is you’re not really sure what to do about it.
There’s a few reasons why your chicks might be making loud noises. In this article, we’ll decode these types of cheeps, and hopefully, the next time your flock sounds distressed, you’ll remember this article, and stop worrying!
Why do baby chicks cheep loudly:
- They’re hungry
- They’re thirsty
- They’re cold
- They’re lonely/scared
- They don’t feel good
- Chicks cheep loudly usually because they hungry, thirsty, cold, lost, or not feeling well.
- To figure out why YOUR chick is unhappy, look at how it’s acting (are they huddling? Do they look sick?)
- To figure out what to do, check their brooder temperature, their feed, their water, and do a head count.
- If they’re not feeling well, try to determine the cause (a qualified veterinarian can guide you).
Number one is they’re hungry. If they’re cheeping loudly, ask yourself “Do they have chick starter?” “Can they get to it?”
Sometimes even I mess up and I put their bowl somewhere that’s not easy for day-olds to get to. To fix this, I look at their brooder and just double check. And if I have done that, I fix it.
We talk about the best chick feeders here. What really matters is that your chicks can get into the feeder and get to the food.
If you’re not feeding an 18% chick starter and they’re constantly cheeping loudly, I would then look also at your food.
Is your flock’s feed giving them the right diet and the nutrients that they need in order to grow? Is it giving them enough protein?
I’ve found the best is a really good commercial chick starter – you can be sure your chicks are getting all the nutrients they need.
Reason number two that baby chicks cheep loudly is because they’re thirsty. Do they have access to water? Is there water? Can they get to the water? If they don’t have any, then you have to get the chicken some water. But this is another common reason why chicks cheep so loudly.
Reason number three is that they’re cold. It is important to keep their brooder at a specific temperature (more about that here), but if the brooder is not warm enough, they’ll start cheeping.
Even if you think it’s warm enough, if your chicks think it’s not warm enough, they’ll let you know. Animals don’t really lie, and young chicks certainly don’t lie about something like this.
They’re Lost Or Scared
The fourth reason why you’ll hear loud cheeping is because your chicks are lost or they’re lonely and they don’t know where the rest of their flock is.
While you might wonder how this can happen, truthfully, even if the rest of the flock is 6 inches away, if your chick can’t see its friends, it’ll get lonely real quick. To avoid this, just keep everyone together.
Chickens are prey animals. They’ve evolved to depend on a large number of flock members to keep them safe.
That’s why they say you shouldn’t really just have only one or two chickens; having more than that helps chickens be happier. It’s not just a companion issue; it’s an issue of making sure that they feel safe in their environment.
When baby chicks cheep loudly, it’s probably that they don’t know where everybody else in their flock is and they’re lonely and they’re scared.
Sometimes my baby chicks will wander off from the rest of the chicks. They may wander from the larger penned-in area and into tall grass, and they’re lost. They can’t see everybody else and it’s scary enough to start cheeping. As soon as I pick them up and I put them with the other chicks, the cheeping stops.
They Don’t Feel Good
If your chick isn’t developing correctly, or maybe they came out of the shell weaker than the other ones, they might not be feeling good, and then they have a harder time keeping their body temperature up.
The key here is to watch for a few different behaviors. If you hear loud cheeping AND your chicks are closing their eyes, and hunching over, it shows that it’s more than just cold – they’re not feeling well.
In such cases, we put them and a friend in a brooder that is warmer than what the other chicks need. If the chick just needs an extra boost, then within 24 hours they’re fine and back with a regular flock. We usually follow up with apple cider vinegar.
What Do These Cheeps Sound Like?
If you’re wondering what the cheeps sound like, it’s a very shrill, high, loud cheep. It’s not the same as their happy little chirps: the “Oh, I’m a chicken and I’m walking around kind of chirps.” These are very loud and insistent chirps.
Regardless of the problem, in my experience, there’s not really, one cheap for each problem: no lonely cheep, no cheep for “I’m cold”, or “I’m hungry,” or “I’m thirsty.” Chicks are not like dogs or cats, who have a full call range that will tell you kind of what they are experiencing.
Hopefully this article explains why your baby chicks cheep loudly!
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.