Tips for rearing chicks successfully

For chicken enthusiasts, springtime means hatching, making it a delightful yet demanding time of year. Whether you're a novice or experienced chicken keeper, here are some essential tips from Farmgate Product Manager Lisa Mancell to help you successfully raise young chicks.

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Smallholder Poultry
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From the moment they hatch, chicks need a warm and draught-free environment to thrive. Use a heat/brooder lamp to maintain a temperature of around 35°C (95°F) for the first week, gradually decreasing the temperature until they are fully feathered.

High quality nutrition

A balanced diet is crucial for the growth and development of young chicks. Start with Farmgate’s Poultry Starter Crumb which is specially formulated to provide everything these fast-growing youngsters need. Make sure they also have constant access to clean, fresh water.

Space and air

Avoid overcrowding your brooder as this can cause stress. As they grow you may need to divide them into two brooders to ensure they have enough space. Providing enough ventilation is also important to avoid risk of respiratory illnesses.


In the first few days, some breeders prefer to use corrugated paper which can make it easier for hatchlings to find their feet. Once they have gained in strength, use clean dry bedding such as wood shavings in the brooder and clean out regularly.

Watch and learn

Keep a close eye on your chicks for signs of illness or distress. Are they all behaving in a similar way, pecking at crumb and exploring their brooder? Any lethargy, huddling, or abnormal droppings are cause for concern so take advice if you see this.

Moving on

If possible, keep your young pullets as their own separate flock until they reach point of lay (18 weeks). Take great care with introducing youngsters to older birds as they can be vulnerable to bullying. If introducing them to an existing flock, it’s best to do this at night and to keep a close eye for any bullying in the following days as they establish a new pecking order.

Rearing chicks requires some expenditure, planning and plenty of time, but with proper care and attention, you can raise healthy birds that will go on to thrive on your smallholding.

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