5 Steps to Care for Chicks That Arrive by Mail

Getting the mail is usually pretty boring around here… ya know it’s just the usual same ole thing, bills, junk mail and more bills. So when something else comes in the mail, like a box full of baby chicks, things get pretty exciting!

The morning that we expected them to arrive, we anxiously awaited a phone call letting us know they had arrived. After getting the call, Miley and I ran down to pick them up. Miley got the fun job of holding them on the way home.

Once we got home, we opened the box and were greeted by 27 little cheeping balls of fluff…

Cold and tired from their long trip, they were ready to get out of that box!

Chicks can survive without food and water for up to 72 hours after hatching. Right before they hatch, they absorb their yolk sack which gives them all the nutrients they need for the first few days. So chicks do surprisingly well on their long 2 or 3 day journey through the mail to their new home. Once you get them, there are a few really important steps you need to do to ensure they continue to do well.

Before they arrive, you should get your brooder set up. A brooder can be as simple or elaborate as you want. We use a big plastic storage tub because it was cheap to buy and easy to clean up. Put a layer of wood chips down and get the heat lamp hung up and plugged in so the brooder will be nice and warm for the chicks. The brooder needs to be 90-95 degrees the first week in the warmest part of it.

Gather food, water and grit. Chicks should be fed a good, quality chick starter. We prefer using medicated starter for the first month to prevent coccidiosis. If they are vaccinated against coccidiosis, then you will want to use non medicated feed. Fill up the feeder and waterer and place them in the opposite end of the heat lamp.

We like to place a clay pot saucer under the waterer to raise it up to prevent so many chips being kicked into it when the chicks scratch around. You should also add some chick grit, which they need to help break down and digest their food. I usually sprinkle it around the edge of the saucer.

Once you get your chicks home, you will need to show them where the water is. This is the fun part. Pick a chick out of the box and check it over for any problems it might have. After that, carefully dip its beak in the water.

You usually only have to do that one time because as soon as they get a taste of it, they will want to continue to drink on their own. These little guys were pretty thirsty, they just drank and drank. We don’t normally show them where the food is at because once they get settled and adjusted to their surroundings; they find it on their own.

Keep an eye out for pasty butt. Pasty butt is a condition where poop sticks to the down around the vent and builds up. This can be dangerous and cause a chick to die due to blockage if not cleaned off.

Never pull the poop off because you can cause damage to the bowel. The best way to clean it is to stick the chick’s butt under lukewarm running water and wash it off. Some common causes of pasty butt are being stressed or getting too hot or cold. So It’s not uncommon for chicks that are shipped to develop it. Feeding them cooked egg, quality food, yogurt or other probiotics will usually help them to get over it quicker.

Last but not least, once they get settled in give them plenty of TLC.

Happy chicks are healthy chicks!

2 thoughts on “5 Steps to Care for Chicks That Arrive by Mail

  1. Karen Squires

    How cute! Add in Miley, and it gets even cuter-:)

    I saw baby chicks at IFA the other day. Some had that pasty butt. I was wondering if it was a bad thing. I hope IFA cleans their little, tiny bums.

    I was also wondering when I saw them, what is needed to care for them, as in, if I brought some home. It sounded like a great idea! Then I remembered all my foster cats and dogs and decided against it. It would be down right dangerous for the chicks.

    So for now I’ll get my chick fix from watching their journey on your blog-:)


    1. humblelittlehomestead Post author

      Thanks! I hope they do clean their bums too! Chicks are cute and fun but I don’t really recommend taking them in unless you have a secure place outside with a shelter for them to go to protect them from the weather or only keep them very short term. Chicks grow fast so it doesn’t take long for them to outgrow the brooder. We’ve had ours in the house for almost a week and I’m already so ready to move them to the coop outside. In fact i may work on cleaning it out today so we can move them soon.



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