“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Caring for Baby Chicks: Feed and Water

chicks feeder waterer

Chicks can easily become dehydrated so always have fresh water available for them.  When introducing chicks to their brooder, dip their beaks into the water first.  This is especially important if you ordered them through the mail.    A common cause of chick loss is not eating or drinking soon enough.  This introduces them to where their water is and once they get hydrated and warm they should easily find their feed.  Add about 3 tablespoons of sugar or honey to each quart of water for the first day or two.  This gives them an added boost of energy to get off to a good start.

We use a watering base fitted with a mason jar to provide our chicks water.  As the chicks get older and are drinking more, we will switch to a larger watering base style waterer.  We will continue to use these waterers when the chicks move out to pasture, but we are planning on possibly trying out the Avian Aqua Miser chicken waterer.


For feed we use NatureWise chicken starter grower crumbles (non-medicated) available at our local rural king, which is high (18%) in protein.  Use newspaper around feeder for the first few days if they are having trouble recognizing where their feed is.  It is recommended to provide 2 foot of feeder space/25 chicks.  We will feed our layer flock the chicken starter till around 16 weeks of age.  After that age we will switch to layer feed.  Once the meatbirds are old enough (4 or 5 weeks) to live outside in the chicken tractor, we will switch them over to meatbird crumbles (22% protein).  For an idea of how much food do chicks need, check out the table below or click on the previous link.

Age Pounds of feed per chick per day Cups of feed per chick per day
0 – 7 days 0.014 0.056 (a bit less than a tablespoon)
8 – 14 days 0.029 0.116 (nearly two tablespoons)
15 – 21 days 0.043 0.172 (nearly three tablespoons)
22 – 28 days 0.057 0.23 (about a quarter of a cup)
5 – 8 weeks 0.093 0.372 (a bit more than a third of a cup)
9 – 12 weeks 0.146 0.584 (a bit more than a half of a cup)

2012 will be a year of new learning experiences with raising chickens for us.  We have raised a laying flock before but we pretty much just let them free-range, keep them in a chicken tractor, or confined them to their coop and run.  This year we will be using a pasture/forest garden paddock shift system for the layer flock, and raising and processing our own meatbirds for the first time.  We plan on sharing these experiences with everyone along the way.