Before bringing your chicks home, you should have your brooder set up and ready to go. Your new chicks will likely only be a few days old when you get them, and they will probably have just endured some stress during the process of shipping. It is important that you introduce them into a cozy, stable environment ASAP to boost their little immune systems back up.
Here's what you will need:
Brooder: Your brooder can be any large container that is open on top. The sides should be tall enough that the chicks won't be able to jump out. You should have 2 to 3 square feet per chick. I use a large storage container that I leave the lid off of, but I have also used kiddie pools.
Heat Lamp: Use a 250-watt bulb, and consider having two heat lamps in the brooder so if one bulb dies the chicks won't get too cold. The temperature in the brooder should be 90-95°F for the first week of the chicks' lives. Putting a thermometer in the brooder is also a good idea, but you will be able to tell by the chicks' behavior how they are doing with the temperature. If the chicks are huddled together beneath the heat lamp, it is probably too cold in the brooder. If the chicks are in the far corners away from the heat lamp, it is too hot. The temperature in the brooder should be reduced 5°F every week until the chicks are fully feathered.
Food: Make sure you always have fresh food available. I use a medicated feed because it helps prevent coccidiosis, which is common, contagious, and deadly in young chicks.
Water: Put water far away from the heat lamp and keep an eye on it. My chicks always tend to knock it over, clog it up with shavings, etc. If you put the water directly under the heat lamp, your chicks will probably stand in the water which is bad news because when chicks get wet their body temperature drops rapidly.
Bedding: Use pine shavings, straw, or ground corncob for the bottom of your brooder. If the bottom of your brooder is a slick surface, it is especially important to put bedding down. Since I use a plastic storage container that is very slick, I lay down paper towels and put shavings over the paper towels. You can lay down newspaper and put 2-3 inches of bedding on top, but don't use newspaper as your only bedding because it is too slippery for the chicks.