Raising Chicks with Children

Say hello to Amy Benson from Revolutionary Chicken.

She’s been raising chicks and chickens for a long time. She’s going to tell you how to help care for chicks if your family decides to get a few this spring.

Our Chicken Story Begins

About fifteen years ago, I thought that it would be nice to raise chickens.  I love to garden, and I thought chickens could be my egg-plants!  When I brought it up with my husband, he was very much against the idea.  “Chickens would be a lot of work,” he said.  “And they would make our backyard stink.” .  

So…we didn’t get chickens because the whole family needs to be okay with the idea.

A Second Grade Project

A few years later, our son Ryan’s 2nd grade class hatched two eggs, and the teacher said whoever in the class wanted to keep the baby chicks could have them.  Ryan was completely smitten by the peeping balls of fluff, so he asked me if we could take them.  “Of course!”  I said.  “But you’ll have to ask Dad.”  Apparently my husband can’t say no to his kids, because soon we had Pip and Penny.  Cute names for adorable chicks!

I heard that your school doesn’t allow classroom pets, so don’t ask your teacher if you can hatch eggs. That is a hard no from your school.

If you are doing what it takes to raise two chicks, you might as well have six. It wasn’t long before we added four more.  We found out that it’s not hard to raise chickens, and it is so much fun. It’s not even that stinky.  

That was about 11 years ago, and not only have we been raising chickens ever since, but I even started a chicken business called Revolutionary Chicken.  Now I make and sell chicken feeders and waterers to help other people raise backyard chickens.

I love to help families learn more about chickens and how fun it is to raise them.

What Does it Take to Raise Baby Chicks

  1. A safe box. Baby chicks don’t need a fancy coop.  You can put them in a large plastic or cardboard box, or a portable baby crib, like a pack n play.  They do need something to cover the top, like a wire screen.  Lots of animals would love to have a tasty chick for lunch, so it’s very important to keep them safe and protected.   Once I had two baby chicks in our garage, and my daughter forgot to put the lid back on their box. A stray cat came to investigate, and then we only had one.  That was a sad day.
  1. Warmth. If you start with baby chicks, the most important thing they need is warmth.  Chicks would normally have a mother hen to take care of them to keep them nice and warm.  So if you are taking care of them, you need to provide some source of heat for them (about 90 degrees to start out with).  You can either use a heat lamp or a special warming plate that chicks can go underneath.  A heat lamp is cheap, but it uses a lot of electricity and can also start a fire.  A warming plate is expensive, but it’s safer and it doesn’t use a lot of electricity, so it’s a better choice.

You can buy warming plates, also called radiant heaters, at most farm supply stores. You can also find them on Amazon.

  1. Food and water  Chicks also need food and clean water.  They can feed themselves and get water for themselves as long as they know where to get it.  But like little kids, chicks love to run everywhere and make a mess.  So you will need to make sure their food and water is clean and not tipped over. 

You can see the chicks little feeder in the video.

How to Hold Chicks

Chicks are fragile. They can run and jump and play with each other. You are much too big to run with them. It’s important to hold them gently, and carefully. Hold their wings gently so they don’t jump out of your hands and crash onto the floor.

Here are some photos of how you should gently hold a chick.

This child is holding the chick so gently! She is also sitting down so if the chick jumps, the chick won’t fall very far.

Chicks are so soft and fluffy.

I think everyone likes to hold new chicks.

How to Raise Adult Chickens

Now that your chicks have all their feathers, you need to care for them a little differently.

A coop.  Chickens need a safe place to sleep and lay their eggs.  Their coop needs to have a roosting bar, like a 2”x 2” or 2” x 4” piece of wood up off the ground where they can sleep at night.  The coop should have holes in the top for ventilation–so fresh air can get inside–even in the winter

Outdoor space.  As soon as chickens wake up in the morning, they want to get outside.  You can build them a chicken run–an outdoor space just for chickens, or, if your yard is fenced, you can let them out in your yard. 

This is called free ranging, where they can wander in the yard and  eat grass and hunt for bugs.  Chickens who free range are the happiest.  Always make sure your chickens are protected from dogs.

Food and water.   Chickens will need food and water each day.  Look for feeders that prevent spills and mice from getting in, and look for waterers that always keep the water clean.  That’s what I do for my business.  It makes a huge difference if you only need to give your chickens food and water once every couple of weeks and don’t have to worry about them attracting mice.

Our family loves raising chickens. They are so much fun and we love to eat the eggs that they lay for us.

I hope you learned something about raising chicks and chickens. If your family decides to raise chicks, I hope you share your pictures with us.

Thank you for letting me share with you. I hope you visit my blog with your family. I have more photos and big ideas for your little flock.

Amy, from Revolutionary Chicken

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