Be an Informed Buyer, Ask Questions, Recognize Signs of Poor Health
It’s Spring and you might have buying baby chicks on your mind. This is when the feed stores have all those cute fuzzy butts available, and they certainly are hard to resist. Nothing wrong being an impulse buyer in my book, but at least be an informed one!
There are things to look for, and of course, you want to bring home healthy chicks. Once you leave the store, there’s no turning back, whatever chick problems you have, you’re stuck with, sorry, no returns.
It’s good practice to ask the store manager when they received the chicks. Most likely the chicks were in transport before their arrival. During that time, chicks can become dehydrated, stressed, kept too cold or hot, all of which compromise a chick’s survival. Most chicks in poor health will die within the first two days of their life. You’ll want to avoid buying chicks until they’ve settled in at least 3-4 days after transport.
Marek’s disease is extremely contagious among chickens and usually fatal, so always make sure the chicks you buy were vaccinated at the hatchery.
Choosing Healthy Chicks
You’ll want to see active chicks, some resting, others eating & drinking, and some under a heat source. This is normal behavior. Avoid chicks that are all huddled together, or lethargic.
Eyes should be clear, and you don’t want to see any signs of fecal impaction, better know as pasty butts, Learn More.
The beak, top and bottom should be even, an over bite, or cross-over may interfere with proper eating.
Legs, should appear sturdy and straight.
Chicks will be fuzzy all over, avoid those with sparse or missing fluff.
Have your brooder in place and ready to go before you bring home your baby chicks, it’s important to make their once again transition easy as possible. The brooder box should be the right temperature with bedding, a heat source, food/water in place.