Everyone has different ways- let's hear yours.
Everyone has different ways- let's hear yours.
I have done this exactly once, getting ready to do it a second time when my eggs hatch TOMORROW!!!!!
I brooded outside with a Mother Heating Pad (look up the link for the thread, it's a big one, lots of good info). Because it is so cold where we live and for my own peace of mind I also have a low wattage heat lamp pointed at the mouth of the cave. It's only 150 W. My brooder looks like a box turned upside down with an open side so the chicks have the whole 10x10 coop if they want it.
I brought them home, dipped their beak in water (they hated that) put them in the brooder and tried to leave them alone for a few hours. I had them on puppy pads over shavings for the first week or so; makes clean up really easy and you can buy them cheap at Dollarama. I think I introduced my homemade feed really early, like day 2, but in very small quantities. I always made sure they eat more of the commercial feed. By a week old I was giving them very finely diced sprouted wheat and grit.
I never bothered with the jar style waterer as it seemed to spill and soak everything more than anything. I do put about a 1/4 tsp yogurt in the water for probiotics. For the first couple of days I used jar lids to avoid drowning and after that disposable pot pie pans. When the birds got too heavy and tipped it when they perched on the sides (about 2 weeks old) I got some very cheap porcelain shallow bowls (shaped like sea shells, so fancy). I am out there checking on them all the time so it is no big deal to take a fresh bowl of water with me when I go. Dirty dishes get tossed in a bucket and soaked in hot water with a few drops of bleach once a day.
I feed every 4 hours in two aluminum pie plates (12 chicks) and throw out any unused food when I refeed. It's not as wasteful as it sounds, they usually eat just about everything and whatever is left is full of poo and shavings. I don't like having the same feed sitting around for a long time. I think they pick out the best part and leave the fillers, and at $16 for 50 lbs I suspect chick feed is mostly fillers.
At 3 weeks old they get about 3 big handfuls of commercial feed, about a cup of diced sprouted wheat, maybe 1/2 cup my homemade stuff (mostly 12 grain cereal and a variety of seeds and nuts, pulsed in a blender, maybe a bit of granulated garlic) every four hours.
I do believe in a day/night cycle right off the bat and so switch my heat lamp to a ceramic heat emitter at night. I feed them about 1/2 hour before lights out so they go to sleep with full crops.
My methods are a bit labor intensive but this was my first brood so why not be out there doing something? lol
I am starting to believe you can save some chicks who shows signs of weakness by pulling them from the brooder, keeping them close to the heat of your body and syringe feeding liquids. I lost a chick at the day 3 mark that I did nothing for and I wish I had tried this with them. Another showed signs of lethargy at the 2 week mark and 12 hours in the house with lots of liquids and cuddling brought him around. I think they stop eating at the first sign of feeling unwell and contribute to their own deaths.
Watch your flock is my best advice. They tend to do everything at the same time. They eat together, sleep together, make noise together. If you have one that sleeps while the others are eating, it's sick.
You'll find what works for you. It's so exciting to watch them grow and changes happen daily. We got up from the coldest night in March and discovered everyone had grown tail feathers overnight!
We are raising our birds for both meat and eggs but I believe even an animal raised for processing should live a life with some quality and care.
I use a plastic tote with newspaper in the bottom and paper towels over that, and use a heating pad for warmth. After they are about a week old, I switch to shredded paper for bedding. I brood them in the heated cellar, and will eventually brood in the living room once my dog is fully trained!
I feed them Dumor chick starter, and after about a week introduce dirt and limited scraps. I put them outside after about 4 weeks, or when fully feathered, depending on how many chicks I have.
About a week, but I sorta play it by ear. If they all seem healthy, maybe a bit sooner...
We (and by 'we' I mean 'my husband') aren't going to pluck. He's going to skin them. Way faster and since I haven't bought chicken meat with the skin on in years I don't think I'll miss it.
Hubby is hunter extraordinaire so this is old hat for him. I will be away that day.