A Complete Guide to Baby Chick Supplies

Raising baby chicks is one of the best parts of homesteading. We’ve brought home baby chicks almost every year for the last 15 years and love seeing them go from little fluff balls to gawky teenagers to fully grown hens.

While raising chicks might be fun, there are a few essential baby chick supplies that will ensure your chicks stay healthy and happy from the start.

In this article we will share exactly what you need to get started raising your own chicks including what brooder to use, what to feed your chicks, what to use as a heat source, and more. You can find links to purchase many of these items online, or stop by your local feed store.

Looking for general information – check out our article on Raising Baby Chicks.

*In general the supplies in this article refer to raising chicks without a mother hen and are best for raising up to 20 chicks.

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Quick Look at Chick Supplies

Below is a list of the exact chick supplies you will need to raise baby chicks. Use this as your shopping list and double check you have everything you need before you bring home your chicks. Scroll down for more details on the best chick supplies, where to find them, and how to set everything up for success.

  • Chick Brooder
  • Heat Source
  • Chick Feeder
  • Chick Feed
  • Chick Waterer
  • Chick Bedding
  • Electrolytes
Essential Supply List for Raising Baby Chicks

Chick Supplies: Chick Brooder Setup

The first item you will need is a chick brooder, or a home for your baby chicks. Baby chicks need a contained, safe and warm place to spend the first few weeks of their life. You can either make or buy a chick brooder for your chicks.

Quick note that a brooder often refers to BOTH the baby chick cage/house and the chick heater.  For the sake of this article, we are referring to the brooder as the baby chick house.

We have always put together our own chick brooder with supplies we already had on hand, but if you are short on time or don’t already have some supplies at home, you can also purchase a pre-made brooder. Whether you are buying a brooder or making your own brooder here are a few considerations:

  • Where will you keep your brooder? We always start our chicks in the house for the first 4 weeks at a minimum. Make sure you have space for a brooder in your home. After a few weeks the chicks start to stink! If you have a protected space like a barn, garage, or basement and it is warm enough, you will want to be able to move the brooder to this location.
  • How protected do you need your brooder to be? Many brooders come with an open top. If you are keeping chicks in your home, do you have other animals (like cats and dogs) that you need to protect your chicks from.
  • How many chicks will you get? Keep the size of the container in mind. Even if you are only raising 5 chicks this time, anticipate your chick brooder needs in the future.

Buying a Brooder

If you plan to buy a brooder, keep the questions above in mind. Since we have always built our own chick brooders I have not used these brooders but I have talked with people who have. The best options I’ve seen online are the 2 brooders listed below.

Tetuga Brooder Box for Chick 

This is a collapsible chick brooder. If I was purchasing an indoor brooder for a few chicks for the first few weeks, this is what I would get. I like how moveable it is, the overall size and the basic features.

My only concerns would be setting up a waterer that spills – you may need to place this on a tarp. It is also not very sturdy compared to other brooders so would not protect chicks outside the home or from dogs in the house.


If you are looking for a more solid chick brooder, this brooder is a better choice. The brooder comes with a heat source built in and will keep curious pets away from your chicks. The price is more, but if you plan to have chicks on and off for year, it is worth the investment.

In general this brooder will work well for up to 15 chicks for the first few weeks.

Building Your Own Brooder

Another option is to build your own chicken brooder. This can often be less expensive and you can customize the brooder for your exact needs. Many people use common supplies that you may already have around your home to build a brooder. We’ve built a custom wood brooder (much like a mini coop), a chick brooder from an old dog crate, and we’ve also converted a large plastic bin into a brooder.

See ideas on how to make a chick brooder.

Chick Supplies: Setting up the brooder

Chick Supplies: Heat Source for Baby Chicks

The next supply that is crucial for raising baby chicks is a heat source. Baby chicks need to be kept warm especially for the first 4-6 weeks of life. For the first few days, chicks need to be kept around 95 degrees. This means you need some sort of heat source.

For many years we used a traditional heat lamp. This is the metal lamp with a red heat bulb. These bulbs are great are keeping chicks warms, but are also a high risk for starting a fire. This constantly stressed me out and we’ve recently move to a heating plate/warmer that is much lower risk. If you do decide to use a traditional heat lamp, remember that the bulbs get extremely hot and should be very well secured and monitored.

Below are some heat sources I recommend for use in a chick brooder:

Kufika Chick Brooder Heating Plate

This is currently the heating plate we use in our chick brooder. It is easy to adjust and keeps the chicks the warm. I like that the legs each adjust separately so you can keep the heating plate on an angle, providing options for the chicks for the perfect temperature.

K&H Pet Products Thermo Chicken Brooder

Another great and safer heat option, this heat plate is a bit bigger than then the option above.

RentACoop (10″ x 10″) Chick Brooder Heating Plate

If I were to buy a new heating plate for our chick brooder – this is what I would buy. This has all the features of the other heat sources, but also has an angled top to keep the chicks from sitting on the top and pooping all over the heat lamp.

Chick Supplies: Feeding and Watering Equipment

The next basic supplies are a chick feeder, chick waterer and starter chick feed.

Most chick feeders are simply smaller version of an adult feeder so they fit inside the brooder better. You don’t need anything fancy and the biggest thing to pay attention to is the amount of holes and the capacity as well as how easy is it to clean. We recommend the chick feeders below as good and inexpensive options. This chick feeder is what we currently use.

You will also need a small chick waterer to fit into your brooder. Chicks end up kicking a lot of shavings into the feeder so you should look for a feeder with feet that is elevated or place a small block under the feeder to raise it up. Plan to change out the water daily to keep it clean. Some people also have great luck using chick nipples for their waterer. We have not used this option yet but you can see an option to buy a chicken nipple waterer here.

Chick supplies for health chicks

Finally you can’t feed you chicks regular chicken feed it is too high in calcium and can cause problems with the chicks kidneys. It is important to feed your chicks a chick starter. Many brands now sell this as a chick starter/grower. This feed has a higher protein content and is specially designed for chicks. We recommend feeding an organic and non-medicated chick start to your chicks. As long as your chicks are kept in a clean environment the generally don’t need the medicated feed. We only offer chicks starter feed for the first few weeks before introducing them to other treats and food. You can read more in our complete guide to raising chicks.

Flip Top Chick Feeder

This is an easy to use and basic feeder that we’ve used with our chicks for years. Benefits include the cost, the ease of cleaning and the simpilicity. It does take up more room in the brooder than a more upright chick feeder and can get full of poop and shavings but is easy to clean.

Chick feeder and Chick Waterer Combo

This is very close to the other chick feeder and waterer set we use. I like this waterer better than our current waterer since it has short legs to keep shavings from getting into the waterer.

Chick Starter Feed

You can usually purchase chick starter feed at your local feed store or you can order the feed online. This is the feed we use currently but we often get whatever is available locally as well.

Chick Supplies: Bedding Options

The best bedding for the first few days is simple paper towels. This gives you an easy way to clean the coop and has several benefits including a good surface to support the young chicken legs, it keeps teh chicks from confusing pine shavings are food, and it makes it easy to see in the brooder.

After the first few days you can add some pine shavings. Pine shavings are absorbant and a good bedding for a chick brooder. The biggest negative to using pine shavings are they can make a mess and get into the chicks food and water. Elevating the chick feeder and chick waterer will help with this problem.

Purchase pine shavings online.

Below are a few chick bedding options you SHOULD NOT USE in your brooder:

  • Cedar shavings
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Straw and Hay
  • Towels

Chick Supplies: Chick Health

In addition to the essential chick supplies described above, it is also helpful to have a few tools on hand to help in the case of a health issue. The best way to treat health issues in chicks is to keep them clean and healthy in the first place. There are several health issues that can pop up. To see more on how to handle some of these issues, see our article on How to Raise Baby Chicks.

The following supplies are helpful to have on hand in case of an emergency:

Chick Supplies: Entertainment and Enrichment

In addition to the essential baby chick supplies described above, adding items for baby chicks for entertainment and enrichment are just plain fun both for your chicks and for you. Some of the available baby chick toys are simply fun while others mimic natural chick behavior. One item we encourage you to add to your brooder or baby chick coop is a roosting post. Chickens naturally roost on poles, branches or boards and a small roosting post helps to establish this behavior. You can simply add a small board or purchase a roosting post specifically for baby chicks.

As chicks begin to grow older they will establish a heirarchy. This often leads to the weakest chicken getting picked on by the other chickens. One strategy to minimize this (besides providing ample space) is to add enrichment activities to keep your chickens busy.

Below are some interesting and fun baby chick supplies:

Supplies for Growing Chicks

The chick supplies in this article will take your chicks from newborns up to about 12-18 weeks. At this point they chickens will transition to layer feed and into a larger coop. As your chick grow during this time you can also move them to a larger chicken feeder and waterer similar to what you would use for standard hens.

Other than this, the most important change is to continue supplying your chicks with more space. After a few weeks in a small brooder, your chicks will need more space. If you don’t have (or want to have) a separate coop for your chicks, you can also provide them daytime access to a small protected run area and move them back to your brooder at night. We have a small chicken tractor we use for our baby chicks as they get to get be about 6 weeks.

See a full list of Chicken Supplies.

Raising Chicks 101

You can find more complete information on caring for chicks in our article: Raising Baby Chicks.

Chick Supplies

Raising baby chicks requires careful attention and proper care to ensure their health and well-being. Once you’ve gathered the list of chick supplies and set up your brooder, use the steps below to ensure your chicks get off to the best start possible. Here’s an overview of the key steps involved in raising baby chicks:

  1. Creating a Suitable Environment: Set up a brooder, a warm and safe space for the chicks, with appropriate bedding such as pine shavings. Provide a heat source, such as a heat lamp or heating pad, to maintain a temperature of around 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the first week. Gradually lower the temperature by about 5 degrees each week until the chicks can regulate their body temperature. Ensure the brooder is well-ventilated, clean, and spacious enough to accommodate the growing chicks.
  2. Feeding and Hydration: Offer the baby chicks a balanced diet of chick feed specifically formulated for their nutritional needs. Provide clean and fresh water at all times, dipping their beaks in water to encourage drinking. Monitor their eating and drinking habits, ensuring they are active, finding the water source, and consuming food. As the chicks grow, introduce small amounts of treats or greens gradually.
  3. Health and Growth Monitoring: Regularly inspect the chicks for signs of good health, such as clear eyes, clean vents, and active behavior. Watch out for common issues like pasty butt, where feces stick to the chick’s vent, which may require gentle cleaning. Keep the brooder clean by changing the bedding regularly and cleaning food and water containers. As the chicks grow older and develop feathers, gradually introduce them to the outside environment under supervision, allowing them short periods of supervised exploration.

Remember to conduct thorough research and consult reliable sources for detailed information on the specific breed of chicks you are raising. Proper care, attention, and monitoring are essential for the healthy development and successful raising of baby chicks.

Chick Supplies
Chick Supplies

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