How to take care of a newborn chick

Updated November 21, 2016

Whether your chickens are pets, a hobby or a business, taking care of a newborn chick will most likely be your first challenge. If you are the mother hen to your baby chick, you need to make sure her basic needs are being met. Like any baby, a chick is a fragile creature. Your newborn chick will need daily care and attention.

Prepare a brooder box. This can be a wooden box, a cardboard box, a wire crate or an aquarium. It will need ventilation as well as needing to maintain a temperature warm enough for your chick. Have the brooder box prepared before your chick arrives. Cover the bottom of the box with litter to absorb moisture and waste. Newspaper may be too slick, but wood chips, straw or ground corn cob will work well for your chick's footing.

Provide a source of heat. A light bulb or heating lamp is usually sufficient, depending on the number of chicks. Make sure the temperature is 35 degrees C the first week and reduce it by 3 to 5 degrees each week after that. Also have enough space in the brooder box that your chick can move away from the heat if he is too warm. If your chick is huddling under the heat lamp, he is too cold. If he is avoiding the heat lamp, he is too warm.

Keep a fresh, clean and constant supply of water for your chick. Change the water and clean the waterer at least once a day. Make sure the water dish cannot be made into a pool by the baby chick--getting wet could be deadly for her. You can use a shallow dish slightly raised off of the ground, or you can use an automatic water dish which has a narrow trough. You can add sugar to the water in the first couple of days or electrolytes and vitamins if you choose to.

Feed your newborn chick a chick starter food. While he may not be ready to eat the first day after he has hatched, he should be offered fresh, clean food twice a day every day after that. Purchase a medicated chick feed to prevent coccidiosis. Crumble-style feed with about 18 per cent protein will be an adequate food source for your newborn chick. To keep your chick from getting into his food and scratching and pooping in it, you can purchase chick feeders designed to help prevent this.


After the first couple of weeks, if the weather is mild, you can allow your chick some playtime out of her brood box. She will enjoy being in the grass and catching bugs. However, you should supervise any time your chick spends in the yard as she could easily slip away or be snatched by a predator.

Things You'll Need

  • Brooder box
  • Litter
  • Heat source
  • Waterer
  • Feeder
  • Chick starter feed
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