Baby chicks can be pretty noisy at times, but rarely without good reason.
If your baby chicks are chirping loudly - and not letting up - they are trying to tell you something.
It’s almost always going to come down to one of the following:
- They are too hot or too cold
- They are hungry or thirsty
- Or, they are uncomfortable in some way
Once you know this, it is usually very easy to put them at ease and quieten them down. Here’s how you can identify what your chicks want, and how to appease them:
Helping Chicks That Are Too Cold
Providing adequate heat is vital to the health of baby chicks. The easiest way to raise chicks with everything they need is in a brooder with a heat lamp.
Generally speaking, you should start at a temperature of approximately 95 F (35 C), and reduce this by 5 F (3 C) each week until the temperature in the brooder is the same as room temperature.
By this time, they will have grown out their first set of fuzzy feathers and will be able to regulate a body temperature they are comfortable with.
So, if you’re facing a deafening chirping chorus, the first thing to do is double-check the temperature in the brooder.
If it’s fine but your chicks still seem to be huddling together under the heat lamp, try turning it up a couple of degrees.
Helping Chicks That Are Too Warm
The same applies to chicks that are too warm. I’m not trying to say chicks are fussy. Quite the opposite, in my experience the temperature can sway a couple of degrees either way and they won’t make much noise.
If you’re experiencing a heatwave or the room temperature is on the rise for any reason, you may need to move their brooder or take steps to improve ventilation or lower the temp.
Providing Food for Hungry Chicks
If there’s one thing that all animals (at least those I can think of) have in common, it’s being vocal when they’re hungry.
Don’t be surprised if they do not eat for the first 24-28 hours, they absorbed all the nutrients from inside their shell.
When they start to feel hungry though, you can expect them to go crazy. On average, a baby chick will eat about 1 lb of starter feed a week.
This will be a little less for their first couple of weeks, and will of course increase as they get larger. But that’s a good ballpark average.
You should start by scattering some food around their brooder to help them learn how to forage for food. Then start filling up their feeder.
It’s fine to keep the feeder topped up. Chicks tend to eat what they want, it’s hard to overfeed them.
If they’re still chirping, it might be because their feed is too large or certain chicks are missing out. Ground down some feed and spread it around to make sure they’re all eating.
Providing Water for Thirsty Chicks
You need to provide fresh drinking water round the clock. If the water runs out, gets contaminated, or they can’t drink from it, the chirping is going to start.
Even if there is water available, you should keep an eye on your chicks and make sure they’re drinking it.
Sometimes you’ll need to dip their beaks into the water for them to show them it’s there. See if they immediately start drinking when you do that.
Chicks are a nightmare for flicking bits of bedding, pine shavings, etc into their water or even pooping in it. If this is a persistent problem, elevate the waterer and use one with a rim on it to try and stop the water from being contaminated.
Related - A look at how much baby chicks need to drink.
Helping Chicks Feel More Comfortable and Happy
If you know they’re eating well and have food available, drinking plenty, and the temperature is just right - there is something else bothering your chicks that are chirping a lot.
It’s easy to forget that chicks have only been in the world for a few short days sometimes. It must be a sensory overload at times, and I think they sometimes just feel confused and overwhelmed.
I know, I’m overthinking it and I’m a big softie!
Last time I had a brood I would make sure a chick was aware of where the rest of their flock was if they looked lost. I’d also talk to them and give them some reassurance and a little fuss if they were being noisy.
Look for Signs of Health Issues
It may also be worth getting them checked out by an avian vet if you’re worried. Especially if you’re spotting any physical signs that something may be wrong.
Pick up your chicks and give them a good looking over. If they have dirt around their vent they might have a pasty butt, which isn’t that uncommon in chicks.
Also, look for signs of lice in their fuzzy coats. It can be hard to spot them, but if you part their fur down to the skin you might see straw-colored bugs moving around.
That’s a sign that they have lice. This might be causing them some discomfort and causing them to chirp loudly. If your chicks are chirping at night this is often the cause because it’s uncomfortable for them and disturbing their sleep.
Is It Just One Baby Chick Chirping Loudly?
If it’s just one chick making most of the noise you need to take a look at the little guy or girl separately from the rest of the flock.
They might be getting picked on, not strong enough to push their way in and get a fair share of food or water, or could be dealing with an injury.
Separate a section of the brooder for them and provide them with everything they need. Keep a close eye on them for a day or so and see if the cheeping stops and they’re happier.
What Age Do Chicks Stop Chirping?
Chickens are pretty vocal birds. They develop a wide range of sounds and noises as they grow up, but they do grow out of chirping so don’t worry.
It’s usually around 10-12 weeks when chicks stop “chirping” and make more of a “clucking” or general chattering noise.
Chickens grow up very fast. By 12 weeks you will have seen a lot of changes take place, they don’t even look like those vulnerable balls of fluff you started with, do they?
Fast forward a few more weeks (about 15 weeks old) and you’ll have a pullet on your hands.
There are few experiences more fun and rewarding than raising a brood of chicks. I’m envious of you if you’re currently raising baby chicks!
The constant loud chirping can be frustrating though, I’ve been there. But it usually always means they want something.
Once you get to know your peep of chicks and provide everything they need to keep them happy - the loud chirping should turn into more of a satisfied “chatter”.
Image credits - Images by SanduStefan from Pixabay, and Zoe Schaeffer Stefano, and Zocca o on Unsplash