Safe Handling Techniques and Procedures for Baby Chicks
Practicing safe handling techniques protects both you and your chicks. Start off on the right foot by buying your chicks from a National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) certified hatchery. This ensures the chicks arrive free of many poultry-specific diseases that could hurt them and you.
Clean and disinfect the brooder before the chicks even arrive; then keep everything in your chicks' enclosure area as clean as possible. Clean the feeder and waterer at least once per day, and disinfect once per week. Keep the bedding clean and dry by removing used, moist or caked bedding. Dispose of used bedding properly according to local regulations; composting it is usually the best solution.
Buy Southern States All Grain Start-N-Grow or other reputable chick starter, and store the feed in a cool, dry place off the ground. Keep the feed in a container with a sealable lid because feed often attracts rodents and other pests.
Wash your hands well with soap and water before handling your chicks, and keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer around to make sure your hands are really clean afterward. If children handle your chicks, be sure to keep their hands out of their mouths.
If you've recently been to areas where other chickens or fowl have been, change your shoes and clothes before handling your chicks to avoid transmitting disease. Make sure visitors follow a similar protocol.
Socializing the Chicks
Try to avoid handling the chicks for the first couple of days they are in your brooder. They are getting used to new surroundings, and you don't want to rush them. On day three, place your hand in the box, and let them walk around it or hop on it. Use slow movements so you don't startle them. On day four, let them eat chick feed out of your hand.
Try to wait until day seven to hold your new chicks. When the time is right, pick them up just a few inches from the ground; if they seem skittish, delay another day or two. Never over-handle chicks that appear stressed. After they become used to being held, you can handle them at will.