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No, You Don’t Have To Raise Chicks Under Heat Lamps

Thursday, December 1, 2016 5:48
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The standard advice about raising chicks is to keep them under heat lamps, feed them chick starter, and give them coccidiostats. The first time my family bought hatchery chicks we followed this advice and ended up with healthy birds. But this approach was completely dependent on purchased inputs, and it may not have been the best start in life for what would later be pastured poultry.

There is another approach to chick raising for homesteaders, one that doesn’t require a power source or constant feed-store inputs. We tried this approach the second time we bought hatchery chicks. The result: hardy and precocious birds who foraged efficiently, started laying early, and weathered temperature extremes well.


Housing for chicks is fairly similar whether you’re using the commercial model or the alternative one. For their first 3 weeks or so, before their feathers grow in, chicks need protection from drafts and chill. Homesteaders in the cold North should keep their chicks’ brooder boxes inside. Make the box sides at least 12 inches high, and cover the top with a wire lid that will keep chicks in and rodents out while allowing air to circulate. We bedded the floor with wood shavings from our planer.


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  • Howard West

    I get my chicks in late May and keep them in my potting shed and put them in snug progressive bigger boxes at night. Never lost a chick to cold from not using a heat lamp

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