Water – chicks drink a lot of water. Make sure there is always clean, fresh water available to them at all times. Watch your chicks when you first get them to make sure they are drinking. Some people dip the tips of their beaks into the water to let them know it is there. But they must be careful to not dip their nostrils in it as this can lead to respiratory illness and even death.

Water containers for chickensMix 1 tablespoon of molasses in a gallon of luke warm water and use that jug to fill your chicks water container for the first three days. It helps them recover from the stress incurred in transport. Never give them ice cold water, always make it luke warm and it’s not wise to place the water bowl or food bowl directly under the warming light. Off to the side of the warming light but not entirely out of the light is the optimal placement.

Water containers that work the best are usually the ones you hang (like this). They are inexpensive, lightweight, stay cleaner and usually have a reservoir. However, any shallow container will suffice. Most people use something like this: Little Giant 1-Gallon Plastic Poultry Fount Complete Waterer with 750 Red Base

Chicks can and do drown in small amounts of water. Most people who use shallow dishes also put rocks in them to prevent this from happening. Clay saucers that you use to put under a flower pot works good. It’s not something that can tip over especially, with some rocks in it.

Chickens poop everywhere including right into their water; clean the waterer at least once a day. Cleaning after these little ones is important to keeping them healthy.

Coccidiosis is a disease that kills young chicks. It is a microscopic, spore-forming, single-celled obligate parasite. Coccidian parasites infect the intestinal tracts of animals. Chicks pass it in their droppings, and good hygiene can help prevent an outbreak of it. Normally, most birds pass small numbers of oocysts in their droppings without apparent ill effects. Coccidiosis becomes important as a disease when animals live, or are reared, under conditions that permit the build-up of infective oocysts in the environment.

If you see blood in the chickens droppings, there’s a good chance they have it. Starting chicks on medicated feed as soon as you get them helps to prevent it. If you are against the use of medicated feed putting vinegar in the drinking water from the start- 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a quart of water-can usually do the trick.

Just know that chickens are susceptible to at least 11 species of coccidia. Some strains are more lethal than others, and some only affect one breed of chicken and not another. Keep your chicks food and water free from any droppings. Remove any wet spots and replace with dry litter. If coccidiosis is suspected contact your veterinarian immediately. And wash your hands!!!

Hand washing should be a normal part of any routine after dealing with your chickens. Don’t be alarmed here, the most common coccidia found in pets do not have any affect on humans.

Remember that good hygiene and proper disposal of animal feces are important in minimizing risk of transmission of parasites to humans, or to other animals.


Chick starter feed called “crumbles” can be purchased at your local feed store or online. Pellets are too large for baby chicks. It is specially formulated for their complete dietary needs; it comes both medicated or not medicated. The choice is yours. Gravel or grit is not necessary as this baby formula is very easily digested by the chicks. The first few weeks keep them solely on this.

Most people end up giving them small treats of bugs or greens by week two. It’s fun to feed them these treats and as long as you don’t over do it. They need the complete nutrition more than anything else. Greens tend to give them runny poops.

When droppings are loose, a condition may develop called “pasting up”, where their poopies can stick to the vent area and harden on it, which can prevent the chick from eliminating. Check your baby chicks for pasting everyday – if you see this, clean off the vent area immediately, by either using mineral oil on a soft cloth or warm water and gently cleanse it off.

When treats are introduced, the chicks will need some grit. Grit helps them to grind their food for digestion. Play sand is good, it’s small, clean and should be sprinkled on their food like salt or given in a small amount on a flat paper plate. The soil in my yard is mostly sand. I use that instead of play sand, but microwave it for a minute, first. This sterilizes it. After it cools I let them play in it. Stay away from Parakeet or bird grit from a pet shop. This has added calcium in it, which is a no-no at this age. Extra calcium is given when they are older and start producing eggs. It can cause bone deformities when they are babies.

The first day you get them put some feed on a flat paper plate or piece of cardboard. Place the chick on top of the feed. Chicks will naturally peck at their feet and scratch for food. After this initial introduction to their food you can put it in a feeder. This can be as simple as another clay saucer to a store bought one that minimizes wasted food. Again, cleanliness is important; the chicks will poop right in their own food, so you must clean and refill it often.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, never let your chickens food get wet!! Ergot fungus grows rapidly on feed. If you let that go over-night your chicks will basically drop dead. If this should happen, clean and disinfect, immediately. I like to store my food in containers like these, but you can use something you have handy in the kitchen to keep your food sealed and dry.

It’s impossible not to fall in love with your adorable baby chicks! Loving your chickens mean you’ll take good care of them. Basic knowledge of them is essential for good care at this stage of their new life. When you start putting them outside they have to be protected from predators. That also includes the family dog or cat. If they have bonded to you, they will follow you around. Chickens become very fond of their owners too, and know that you care for them. They will return your love a hundred fold and entertain you with their funny, amazing antics.


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2 Comments on How to Feed Baby Chickens

  1. […] Continue to Part 3: How to Feed Baby Chickens […]

  2. City Farmer says:

    I’m so excited, just got my baby chicks for spring. Thanks for this informative website.

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