Rent-A-Chick Program


Do you want to watch the joy of your children, grandchildren, or students discovering a live chick this spring but don’t know what to do with the chick once they have lost interest in it or it outgrows your home or classroom?  Are you unsure of how to care for a baby chick or what to feed it?  Let Sparta Mountain Farm help!

With our program now in its 10th year, you can enjoy your chicks and return them two weeks later.

This seasonal activity is an effective and fun way to teach children how to care for a live animal without a long-term commitment! Teachers, this is the perfect seasonal science project for your classroom!

For a $50 rental fee you will receive:

  • 2 newly hatched chicks (we also have ducklings available for a $65 rental fee);
  • 1 container with lid and bedding to keep them in;
  • Two weeks worth of feed;
  • A keepsake certificate with your child’s name on it;
  • Workshop instructions on the care of a live chick.

Pick up date: Good Friday (adjustable for educators)

After two weeks, return the chicks in their original container. The chicks will be placed with their friends to grow into happy, healthy hens on our farm.

Complete the Rent-A-Chick registration form and mail it with a check, or email it with credit card information, to reserve your baby birds. Supplies are limited.

Sparta Mountain Farm’s Guide to
Taking Care of Chicks and Ducklings


  • 2 chicks or ducklings;
  • Plastic container with lid;
  • Bedding in the container;
  • Bag of chick/duckling feed.


  • You must supply a desk light for heat at night;
  • A safe place to store the container away from other pets, and free of cold drafts.

BEDDING: To keep the brooder clean and sanitary, the bedding needs to be changed as needed. Bedding is given at pickup, if more is needed shredded paper or non-cedar bedding can be used. The container should be draft-free.

HEAT: You will need to supply a desk lamp for your chicks. Pay close attention to how the chicks or ducklings behave. If they’re crowded together directly under the heat source, then they’re too cold. If they’re around the edges of the brooder, trying to avoid the heat, then they’re too hot! For the first week you have the babies, the temperature should be about 80°. Reduce the temperature 5° per week until you get to 70° or the chicks/ducklings are returned. Reduce heat by raising the heat source from the container. It is important that the bulb be far enough away from the edge of the container that it won’t start a fire.

WATER: Chicks and ducklings need water to grow. Water can be given to them in a bottle cap size container (a Gatorade cap works well). Do not give them anything big enough that they can stand in. When they are given food please be sure to provide water. Warm (not hot) water is best for young birds. Do not add anything to the water please. DO NOT ALLOW DUCKLINGS OR CHICKS TO GET WET. (Ducklings DO NOT have proper feathers for swimming so please no bathtubs or sinks).

FEED: Feed chicks/ducklings twice a day. If they drop their food in the container please allow them to peck. Do not overfeed them. Please do not feed them anything except what was provided for them by Sparta Mountain Farm. The feed provided to you should be more than enough to last two weeks. If you believe you will run out of feed before returning the babies, please contact us immediately at 973-800-6780 or via email.

DRAFT SHIELD: When you bring the chicks/ducklings home, please make sure to place them in a draft free location away from other pets. Place a heat source – a gooseneck desk lamp with a soft colored bulb works well – above the container allowing ¾ of the container to be placed in direct heat. Chicks/ducklings MUST be able to get away from the heat source if they get too warm. A bright light may keep them from getting rest.

FLOOR SPACE: Each chick/duckling needs one-half square foot of space for the first two weeks. The container provided to you will accommodate this requirement.

PETS: Please keep the chicks/ducklings safely away from dogs, cats, and other animals that could harm them.

SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: It is important to care for and love the birds, but you must also protect yourself. Salmonella, a common cause of food borne illness, can also be spread by direct contact with animals, like chicks and ducklings, that carry the bacteria. Here are some tips to keep you safe:

  • Avoid contact with poultry manure. Adults should turn bedding as needed using gloves. This is usually not a problem with two-week-old birds.
  • Carefully and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after handling birds or anything in the chicks’ environment.
  • Do not nuzzle or kiss chicks or ducklings.
  • Keep birds especially out of areas where food is prepared.
  • Supervise children when handling, and ensure they wash their hands before and after contact with the chicks/ducklings.
  • Children less than 2 years old, people with weakened immune systems, and women who are pregnant or may be pregnant should not handle chicks.
  • The chicks are healthy and should be fine; however, if they appear to be less than well, please contact us immediately at 973-800-6780 or via email.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS: By participating in the program you agree to these terms. Birds will not be reserved without full payment. Provided package of food will last two weeks if fed appropriately; additional food may be provided for a fee. Birds and container must be returned after the rental period has expired. A fee will be assessed for unreturned birds.



An Educational Farm for Children and Adults

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