Baby chickens can be raised to maturity under a number of conditions; urban chicken farming is becoming more common, and chicks do not need their mothers to be present. Baby chicks do have food and shelter requirements that must be met if they are to reach maturity.
Hatching and Heat
Chicken eggs need to be kept in a secure, warm area to hatch. A homemade hatchery can be made using a cardboard box and a lamp. Fill the bottom of the box with newspaper or wood chips to provide insulation and litter. Once the chicks have hatched, change the litter often. Keep the temperature at about 32.2 degrees Celsius until the chicks hatch. Decrease the temperature about -15 degrees C each week until the chicks can be outside.
Chicks need to be kept in a safe area until they are big enough to be outdoors, which will be several weeks after hatching. A box should have plenty of room, especially if more than one chicken will be kept in it. Keep the box warm and partially covered by a lid. Change the litter each day to prevent the chicks from getting sick. The chicks should be able to walk around freely in their box.
According to United Poultry Concerns (UPC) Online, starter feed can be purchased for chicks. This feed is a mixture of grains and other nutrients. Adding pieces of lettuce, small pieces of apples and alfalfa sprouts can also help their diet. Feed chicks regularly throughout the day, and ensure that they have plenty of water at all times. Chicks eat frequently, and having plentiful food and water will help them grow and remain healthy.
Chicks can begin to venture outdoors after four to six weeks of living in their hatchery. Supervise chicks at all times, as animals like dogs and cats pose a threat, and chicks can be injured by falling or getting stuck. Take chicks outside on warm days for a few hours at a time to get them acclimated to their new environment. At around a month to six weeks, chicks can live in an outdoor coop.
Raising chickens requires attention and a great deal of effort. Chicks need constant care and feeding in addition to regular changing of their litter. Once chicks move into an outdoor coop, they require less care, but all chickens should be monitored and protected from predators like cats, dogs, foxes and birds like hawks and owls. Chickens can provide eggs, meat and profit, however, which makes the effort of raising them worthwhile.