How to Care for your Mail Order Chicks

It’s easy! The hardest part is learning to keep it simple.

When your day old chicks arrive from the hatchery they will need food, water, heat, light, fresh air and space. They will arrive stressed from excess heat or cold, lack of food, and might be showing signs of dehydration.

Your chicks can survive several days on the stored yolk in their body, but heat, food and water should be the first priority upon their arrival.  It’s a good idea to have electrolytes on hand before you pick up your chicks. They might look a bit wilted from their travels, and this will help perk them up. I don’t usually use electrolytes more than two days. A popular brand of electrolytes is Sav-a-Chick, and is available online or at local feed stores.

Baby chick

On the day your chicks arrive you should have a draft free box (lined with paper towels) large enough to provide a heat lamp (red bulb) at one end. Be sure to allow enough room for a cooler area so that the hatchlings can get away from the heat source if needed.  A good rule of thumb is to provide a 1/2 square foot of floor space per chick.

The temperature in your brooder should be 90-95 degrees for the first week, then decrease the temperature by 5 degrees each week following.  You can raise or lower the lamp to help obtain that proper temperature. If you don’t need to use a heat lamp in the brooder, for the first few days, keep a light on so the chicks can find their food and water. After a few days, I suggest switching to a simple night light, just to help prevent piling or suffocation.

brinsea_ecoglow_20_chick_brooder_2

Tip: Heat lamps are often hard to regulate temperatures, another choice is using a Brinsea Ecoglow Chick Brooder. They are safer, and you won’t be spending so much time adjusting the heat lamp.

On week two, you can start using shavings for bedding (not cedar) in the brooder. You can also raise the drinker a bit to help keep the water clean. Use a drinker made for chicks to avoid the possibility of drowning.  Chick starter feed is all your hatchlings will need all the way until they are at their point of lay… which is about 5-6 months.  You’ll have to decide if you want to use medicated started feed or not. I use medicated for the first 2 weeks, then switch to non-medicated.

Important!

Something to watch for that can put your chicks in danger is pasting up, this is simply a poopy butt. This is real common in baby chicks, and if not tended to, they won’t be able to poop and can die. So keep those fuzzy butts clean by using a baby wipe, or a wet paper towel. Learn more about Pasting Up.

My Favorite Hatcheries? My Pet Chicken | Ideal Hatchery | Murray McMurray

 

 

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From the Brooder…

Whenever there are new hatchlings there’s always something obstructing smooth sailing. This year the hot weather is hindering my ability to keep the almost 3 week old chick’s brooder below 95. I veered from my “always start chicks in mid October” rule of thumb on raising chicks. I know better, but that was too late to order the chicks I wanted. So now I’m frazzled trying to care my babies in temperatures that are soaring to near 100 and dropping some 40 degrees at night.

My indoor brooder is too small, the outdoor one is too big, standard 250 heat lamps are too hot, and a 100 watt isn’t hot enough at night. Oh my. Can’t say the chicks are near as stressed out as me, they don’t seem to mind fluctuating temps. But I do mind knowing that fluctuating temps are not in their best interest.  So far, I’m quite proud to say,  I haven’t lost any of my chicks.

This heat lamp thing is a giant pain, raising it, lowering it, up, down, up, down… it’s ridiculous! This is the last time I’m dealing with a heat lamp , I’m going to order a Brinsea Eco Glow 20 Chick Brooder and be done with it once and for all.

As for the outbuilding where the brooder is located, it’s a bare bones shelter that offers zero help in maintaining a decent temperature. It’s not insulated, so it’s super hot in the summer and offers nothing more than wind and rain protection in the winter. I’m tired of that problem too…  so today I had the outbuilding insulated. I also ordered an evaporative cooler that has the ability to lower the inside temperature by 12 degrees, it’s expected Tuesday.

Buts that’s not all! The floor was particle board, and now I have vinyl floor covering. Thanks to Craigslist, I was able to find a handyman in one day… 18 guys responded to the ad. I’ll post pictures of the outbuilding as soon as I get everything back in order.

For every problem, there is a solution…  unfortunately it comes with a price, and now I’m broke. lol