Caring for Young Chicks
Easter is here and there are images of fluffy little baby chicks everywhere. Children see these cuddly pictures of Easter chicks and imagine them as their very own living toys. Many parents have visions of their perfect little angel cuddling up with one of these live stuffed animals. The unfortunate thing is that they don’t stay little or cute for long.
The American Humane Association says that the majority of Easter chicks suffer and die within a few weeks from lack of proper care or stress. Young children hug and squeeze their new toy frequently causing broken bones, internal injuries or suffocation. As the animal grows and looses the fluff many of them are relegated to back yard pens where they are neglected; others are set loose in the wilds and either starve or become prey. Animal shelters are flooded with abandoned chicks that must be put down because of the abuse and neglect they had previously received.
If you really want to buy an Easter chick for your child, do your research and act responsibly. Think about everything required to keep one of these cute little balls of fluff, because they won’t be cute and cuddly for long. Chickens are also not a low-maintenance pet, they require as much work as a dog or cat and can live up to 16 years.
Young chicks have special dietary requirements. There is special chick food you can but which you should be feeding them for about two months. Towards the end of the two months start mixing in whole grains and grit. Grit is what aids digestion for the birds and is an essential part of their diet. As with any animal, be sure to have a continual source of fresh clean water.
Young chickens need a place where they can run around and bed down that is warm and protected. You can use a cardboard box for young chicks, but in a few short weeks that box will be too small and will need to move into a more permanent habitat. Young chicks need constant warmth, newly hatched chicks need a temperature of about 90 degrees. The heat source should be to just one side of the enclosure which would allow the chicks to have a range of temperatures. If all of the chicks are bundled tight together beneath the heat source then the temperature must be increased; if they hiding away from the heat source then they need a cooler temperature.
Keep in mind that chickens can be a source of Salmonella infections, instruct your children to always wash their hands after handling their new pets.