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Becoming a Chicken Parent 101 : Getting Started

Chickens seem to be all the rage, and come on, who doesn't love the idea of fresh eggs every day?! Considering they are relatively low-maintenance, chickens can be a fun hobby for almost anyone. So, what exactly does it take to become a chicken parent?

what you need to prepare for bringing chicks home

First Thing's First

Before you start to dream about your new chicken family, you will want to find out if the area you live in will allow chickens on your property. The last thing you want is to bring home cute, peeping puffballs, become attached, and then find out you aren't allowed to keep them. 😢 Rural areas shouldn't be a problem, but, if you live in a more suburban setting (especially areas with an HOA) there may be rules against keeping feathered friends in your yard.

Tip! Recently, some farms have started offering a chick foster program for those who are not allowed to keep chickens on their property. This gives you the opportunity to love on baby chicks until they are a few weeks old (or ready to move outdoors) and then return them to the farm. This is a great option to explore for those that want to experience cute baby chicks, without a long-term commitment. Check with your local farms to inquire about programs like this.

pet baby chicks at home

What You'll Need

The age of the chicks or chickens you are bringing home will slightly change the type of setup you'll need.

Chicks 🐥

Chicks will need much more initial care than older chickens do. BUT, it's worth the extra effort to love on little fluffballs for a few weeks! 🐣 Keep in mind that they cannot maintain their own internal temperature and must be kept warm at all times for the first few weeks. It's recommended to keep them indoors until they are around 6 weeks old and the temperature stays consistently above 65°F. Below is a list of chick necessities.

  • Brooder — something for the chicks to live in. This can be anything from a large plastic container to a more expensive, custom-made brooder box.
  • Bedding for the brooder — a layer of newspaper (or similar) with a top layer of pine shavings works great. A slippery surface such as newspaper alone is not a good option and can actually cause issues for chicks with the way they walk.
  • Heat source — this is a MUST for young chicks. A heat lamp or heating pad is recommended. For the first week of their life, the temperature should be 95°F under the heat source with the temperature being decreased 5° each week until they are about six weeks old.
  • Food and water source — this can be as simple as small bowls or you can invest in feeders/waterers specifically designed for chicks. Food should be "chick starter feed" as there are important elements not found in regular chicken feed.
  • Thermometer — you will need a thermometer to regulate the temperature within your brooder.
what you need to prepare for bringing chicks home

Chickens/Roosters 🐔

Bringing older chickens home doesn't require the same level of care that chicks do, but there are still essentials you will need to provide a great home for your new feathered family.

  • Chicken coop — even if you plan to let your chickens free-range (wander freely around your yard) you'll still need to have a secure chicken coop with nesting boxes for nighttime when you will want to lock them in, away from predators. You can either buy a coop already made or there are many plans online that walk you through building relatively simple coops on your own.
  • Nesting boxes — although chickens will technically lay eggs anywhere and everywhere (Yay for Easter egg hunts all year long!) they prefer a cozy, safe nesting box. Nesting boxes can be constructed with lumber or, if you want to get scrappy you can use things like large buckets on their side, Rubbermaid containers or even litter boxes.
  • Bedding — there are many options when it comes to the type of bedding you use in your coop/nesting boxes so choose one that will work best for your coop. Straw/hay and cedar chips are great options but depending on how often you plan to clean your coop there are other options as well.
  • Feeder and waterer — fresh food and water are essential for chickens and although you should check them every day, automatic feeders and waterers are a great way to ensure both are available to your chickens round the clock.
  • Roosting bar — although not completely necessary if your chickens free-range, it's recommended to provide some areas where they can roost (perch themselves on something). This can be anything from wooden bars to tree limbs, as long as the chickens can wrap their feet securely around the object without slipping.
  • Supplements (good to have) — while supplements such as grit and calcium are not a total necessity (given a good quality food) they will greatly benefit the overall health of your chickens and the quality of the eggs they produce.
baby chicks at home under heat lamp

Bringing Them Home

You've researched, gathered all the necessities, made sure their brooder or coop is perfect, and now you're anxious to meet your new feather babies!

If you're bringing chicks home, you'll keep them in your home for a few weeks under a heat lamp before introducing them to their coop. This is a great time to socialize your chicks while they are indoors with you, but remember not to over-handle them (especially in their first couple weeks) as it can be stressful to them.

Chickens will be introduced directly to their coop and even if you plan to let them free-range they should be locked in their coop full-time for a few days (look for them to start laying in their nesting boxes) before you let them out. This will help them to establish that the coop is their home, where they should lay their eggs, and where they should return to at night.

collecting eggs from pet chickens


Chickens need entertainment? While not totally necessary, chickens (especially those kept in a coop full-time) can get bored easily. Not to worry! There are many easy and inexpensive ways to liven up your chickens' day! A quick online search will lead you to many options to purchase "toys" for chickens. While these options are great, you can also find many ideas for easy, DIY options. Consider ideas like poking holes in a water bottle filled with their feed that they can roll around or tying a whole head of cabbage to a rope and hanging it in their coop.

Chickens are one of the only pets you can own that not only bring pleasure simply by having them around, but also "give back" by proving you with a steady stream of yummy eggs! Plus, once you get their coop all set up, they are a relatively low-maintenance pet. So what are you waiting for? Join the chicken parent movement and soon you'll be loving on some of your very own feathered cuties! 🐥🐔❤️️

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