Peeps and quacks. Each Spring from late February to April is a big event when you can get live baby ducklings and chicks at Tractor Supply stores. They have everything that a beginner or a well-seasoned farmer or gardener would want to care for their flock. Chicken coops and runs, feed and treats, feeders and supplements and egg care. On Tractor Supply website they have booklets and an order form to download free about the care and how to raise chickens and ducklings in your backyard.
Why raise chickens, for fresh meat and eggs. Baby chicks and ducks are inexpensive to raise compared to other pets. Double check with your local city/town ordinances and homeowners association. Promising your neighbors there will be no roosters on the loose and free fresh eggs is the start of a great relationship. Playing with your chickens is a good idea to get them used to being around people and when you come to get eggs.
A brooder that is heated by a light bulb with a reflector is the way to get started. The temperature for the first week should be kept at 95-100 degrees. You will need a thermometer. You can reduce the heat by five degrees each week. Save a cool spot for the chicks to get out of the heat. A panting chick or chicks that are huddling away in corners is a chick that is too hot. If they are huddling together under the bulb then they are too cold. A heat lamp can be helpful too. Keep the water away from the heat source. If you are using a bowl you can fill it with clean marbles or pebbles to keep the baby chicks from falling in and drowning or getting too soaked
The bottom of the brooder should have shavings of pine or tiny chicks can have paper towels on top of the shavings, but newspaper is not recommended. The litter needs to be kept clean at their tiny stage so they are not prone to illness. About 2.5 feet is needed for every chick, more is a good thing. After a month, a shallow roost of about four inches off of the floor of the brooder is needed to encourage the little ones to start roosting. Do not put under the heat lamp.
Even baby chicks without a mama will scratch for their food. A feeder is still the best way to start to keep the mess up at this stage. Cleaning is important as the chicks will poop right into their own food. Chick crumbles are a complete food for the chicks. You can also get them treats if you like. When you give them food or the treats also give them some grit to help break down the food.
Chicks are fast, curious and helpless against predators. A safe place for them outside when they are ready is a needed. Chicks will think you are their mama and follow you all over. They will come when you call them and just like some people, some won’t. Extra care of their little butts is needed in the beginning, if you have a mother hen she will take care of this. It can be dangerous if the chicks get what is known as a pasty butt, where the chicks droppings stick to them. It can kill them if it gets clogged, especially during the first two weeks. Organic apple cider vinegar, a little in the water can help prevent the condition. Water can be used to soak and remove the plug. Just pat it dry. A little bit of vegetable oil or Vaseline in the area is a help.