I thought I might put together some information on how I raise chicks when I succumb to getting some without using a broody hen. I have found a few things really help make it a success.
~First, you need a large enough box to give them room to move around as they grow quite quickly. It should be expandable to as they need more space you can give it, or have another place ready for them.
~Second, keeping the temperature right and having fresh water and feed out at all times keeps the chicks from pecking at each other.
~Bed the box with paper towels to start with, and change the papers daily.
~Provide a pan of fresh garden dirt and greens for the chicks by about 3 days old. This keeps them busy and teaches them to scratch. It also keeps their digestive systems in good order and helps keep you from having to clean their bums as often.
~I like getting fall chicks. The reason for this is they start laying well by spring as the days are getting longer and there are not as many problems with coccidia, nor do I have issues with summer heat killing young birds. Snakes are also less active and do not tend to invade the chick coop and harm my babies.
Here is a video I did this morning of my fall birds. It’s rather long since my computer wouldn’t save it in an editable format from the camera I used, but it shows my brooder box and the chicks getting used to the added soil. I know many will tell you to use all sorts of medications and vaccinations for your chicks, but generally they will be far healthier without them in a small backyard flock, and raising them with natural soil and green food really improves the final condition of your chickens. Since beginning to raise my chicks with fresh soil and greens I have not lost a single chick except due to heat in summer.