How old does a baby chick have to be to be able to take care of its self?

Chicks (baby chickens) are quite precocious and can essentially take care of their basic needs within a day or two of birth. They will peck and eat ground grains and with only minimal encouragement drink from a small bowl. However, chicks are generally kept in a brooding enclosure with heat lamp to protect them from drafts and provide the warmth their mothers would normally provide.

They need this extra protection for 3-4 weeks until their baby down is covered with real feathers--then they're ready for life outside in the open air.

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