Precocial vs. Altricial Chicks

Precocial chicks are born with feathers/down and they're able to walk when they first hatch e.g. ducks and plovers. Altricial chicks are born naked with their eyes closed e.g. magpies, finches and sparrows. Precocial chicks are much easier to raise compared with altricial chicks.

Housing precocial and altricial chicks

Precocial chicks require a box or container that's lined with newspaper and towels. A lamp is needed to provide a source of heat and a feather duster (or equivalent) can be used as a "parent". A mirror is also a great way to provide a "buddy". Their food dish should be shallow and they shouldn't be allowed to swim until they are older and their feathers are waterproof. Precocial chicks are quite messy!

Altricial chicks need a nest box e.g. a bra bag or an old margarine container. They also need a lamp to provide a source of heat and a thermometer should be used to ensure their housing is the correct temperature. It's important to provide a slightly humid environment and this can be achieved with a water dish in the area they are housed.


Both precocial and altricial chicks need to be kept in a warm environment.

  • Newly hatched chicks - 33-36°C
  • Unfeathered chicks - 32-33°C
  • Partially feather chicks - 29-32°C
  • Fully feathered chicks - 23-26°C
  • Weaned chicks - 20-23°C