4 days in and I have a few questions.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by dan daly, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. dan daly

    dan daly New Egg

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    May 11, 2011
    My order of 26 chicks arrived Monday morning. Unfortunately, I had to be out of town for a funeral, but my wonderful wife stepped up and took care of them till I got back late Tuesday night.

    As of now we have 24 chicks who all seem to be doing well. They're a mix assortment of large breeds, so we don't exactly what is what, but it's fun trying to guess.

    A few questions:

    1. How long to keep the bedding covered? I have pine chips for bedding, and it's covered with paper towels which get changed out twice a day. I read one source that said only do this for 48 hours, and another that says keep it covered for 2 weeks. They definitely like to pick at the pine chips and play rugby when someone gets a nice chip everyone else wants in their beak. The argument for keeping it covered is condition them to eating food- not bedding. The reason I read for removing the paper towels is to protect their feet. The towels are textured, so I don't think they are slippery.

    2. When to supply grit? Again- different sources say different things. The instructions from the hatchery say start after 48 hours. The instructions on the bag of grit say start giving it to chicks at 2 weeks of age.

    3. Can anyone shed some light on the two losses we had? #1 was acting strange from the moment my wife and son opened the mailing box. It never opened it's eyes, walked around with his head down, kept falling over and chirping loudly. My wife seperated it from the others and tried TLC with no effect. It pecked itself severely causing bleeding. Wife put vasoline on him to stop the pecking, but he kept going and eventually died. #2 seemed fairly normal for the 1st day, and then simply sat down, stopped eating or drinking, and eventually died.

    4. Speaking of pecking- everything says to keep your chickens from pecking each other. I'm kind of confused on what qualifies as a peck- because they seem to be doing it all the time- although not causing any damage to each other that I can tell. The birds will get some feed or litter stuck to their back and somebody else takes it off- or looks like they are grooming the other bird. Also, they'll be running around or going to eat, and 2 birds end up in each other's face- "You looking at me?" They seem to say- and give a little peck. Again, it doesn't seem to cause any damage. To me it appears to be that they are establishing the pecking order in the flock. Is this normal, or do I need to stop this stuff?

    5. Just general observations from a 1st time chicken owner. It's a lot of FUN. I could stand there and watch those chicks all day if I didn't have other things to do. Way more entertaining then TV. It's very interesting watching the differences in behavior between breeds and individual birds. Some sit down to sleep and look like the picture perfect bird sitting on its nest. Others simply flop down on their stomach, legs sticking out and look like they got run over by a truck.

    We've got 5 breeds and 1 special "exotic"

    6 Yellow Chicks- A lot of different things these could be, hoping they are buff orpingtons or buff rocks. These have been obviously the biggest chicks from day 1, also the most aggressive in asserting themselves and telling other chicks to get out of their way.

    6 organy/red chicks- could be New Hampshire Reds/RI Reds/or may Buff orpingtons or buff rock.
    These are very active birds as well.

    2 solid gray chicks with white coming in on the wing feathers. I'm pretty certain these are White Jersey Giants. It's interesting that these two birds seem to hangout together most of the time.

    5 black chicks with white patches on top of head, chest, bottom. Hoping these are barred rocks or australorps. These were smaller for the first couple days but seem to be catching up in size (all but one at least). Not as energetic or assertive as the yellow or red birds. Althougth one of these guys is the most interested in getting out of the brooder and has been plotting his escape. Both dead chicks were black. The one black that is still smaller, has me concerned sometimes. He appears to be doing better and eating/drinking. But he frequently is sleeping even if nobody else is. Since he hasn't died and doesn't appear to get worse, we're not sure if he's small/weak or sleepy/lazy.

    4 brown/grey/white stripped birds. These are the smallest, but fairly active and all doing well. They look to either be speckled sussex or dark cornish.

    1 "rare exotic". He's as big as anybody else now. Gray with a thick black stripe down the center of his back from head to rear. Very energetic, doesn't take any BS from the yellow "bullies". And I have no idea what he is. Everything that he kind of sorta maybe looks like has feathered feet, and his feet are clean.

    Here's hoping everybody keeps doing well, and we get to figure out what everyone is.
     
  2. PJCluck

    PJCluck Out Of The Brooder

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    Living Free in NH
    I am not quite as new at this, having now a flock of 14 year-old well-laying hens and now a new flock of 12 8-week-old chicks.

    For their first 4 weeks I kept them all in a brooder box with only paper towels on the floor. I replaced them about every other day. I eventually added pine shavings. And now they're all in the large coop so of course it's all pine shavings.

    I never gave any grit - just went with medicated chick feed and water. I have feeders with crushed oyster shells throughout the coop for the layers, but never gave any of the birds anything other than the chick feed, then grower mash, then layer mash and pellets. They're all big and healthy, and laying, so it seemed to work.

    Out of the two shipments, I have never lost a bird, although My Pet Chicken said to expect some loss. Why, I do not know. Some just die, I guess.

    Never had a problem with pecking - but the rule for chicks in brooders is to have a RED heat lamp on them so if they do draw any blood, the red light keeps them from seeing it, supposedly.

    It IS a lot of fun. I kick myself often for not doing this when my kids were little. Now the grandkids LOVE everything about it, even the chores of cleaning and sweeping.

    This forum is amazing for the wealth of answers you will get.

    Welcome to the world of chickens!
     
  3. M.sue

    M.sue Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2011
    Michigan
    1. I used pine shavings (smells great & soft for the babies) and never covered them ( didn't know & didn't do any harm). To be safe I'd still cover them for a few more days.
    2. I supplied chick grit right when I got my chicks. They were 3 days old. They need the grit since they are not free ranging. Their little gizzards need the grit to help grind/digest what they've consumed. You can mix it into their feed, sprinkle in the brooder or simply have a separate dish with it.
    3. Hard to say could be several things. My first guess would be dehydration or plugged vent. (The vent, very important. You need to check it regularly on new chicks) It happens.
    4. Normal stuff. I had a red heat lamp in my brooder. The red prevents the chicks from seeing blood if some should be drawn during the establishment of the pecking order. Chicken are cannibals. If a baby chick has blood on itself the others will be drawn to it, it will brutally be pecked to death. RED Light a Must have!!

    Have fun and enjoy your chicks. They are Great Entertainment!!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
  4. dan daly

    dan daly New Egg

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    May 11, 2011
    Yeah, they are under a red heat lamp. Currently they live in a 5ft diameter swimming pool in my basement.

    One more novice question- how many holes should there be on the bottom of our chickesn? I thought the vent was it. However, when you pick them up to check them there appears to be something else lower on their behind. For those of you on these forums that haven't got chicks yet- inspecting a fuzzball's butt is harder then it sounds! [​IMG]
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Northwest Arkansas
    You'll find that a lot of us do different things and that most of them work. There is seldom one correct answer for all of us. Chickens are pretty tough and adaptable.

    1. How long to keep the bedding covered? I have pine chips for bedding, and it's covered with paper towels which get changed out twice a day. I read one source that said only do this for 48 hours, and another that says keep it covered for 2 weeks. They definitely like to pick at the pine chips and play rugby when someone gets a nice chip everyone else wants in their beak. The argument for keeping it covered is condition them to eating food- not bedding. The reason I read for removing the paper towels is to protect their feet. The towels are textured, so I don't think they are slippery.

    Usually two to three days is enough. I don't know of any problems or danger from keeping them longer. It is more for your convenience after they get used to eating the real food.

    2. When to supply grit? Again- different sources say different things. The instructions from the hatchery say start after 48 hours. The instructions on the bag of grit say start giving it to chicks at 2 weeks of age.

    I give them grit about Day 2 or Day 3. A baby chick raised by a broody eats grit as soon as she takes it off the nest. Some people never give them grit, and don't have to as long as all they eat is chick feed. But as you have noticed, they do eat other things, like wood shavings. As long as they don't eat many and the ones they do eat are pretty small, their system will handle that. The danger is that they eat too many or they eat some big enough that it can't get through their digestive system, specifically the gizzard. Grit will not help if the excess wood shavings or whatever gets stuck in their crop and causes an impacted crop, but grit will help prevent an impacted gizzard.

    Many people raise their chicks on wood shavings and never supply grit, the chicks eat some wood shavings, and they are usually fine. Occasionally it does cause a problem, but this is pretty rare.

    3. Can anyone shed some light on the two losses we had? #1 was acting strange from the moment my wife and son opened the mailing box. It never opened it's eyes, walked around with his head down, kept falling over and chirping loudly. My wife seperated it from the others and tried TLC with no effect. It pecked itself severely causing bleeding. Wife put vasoline on him to stop the pecking, but he kept going and eventually died. #2 seemed fairly normal for the 1st day, and then simply sat down, stopped eating or drinking, and eventually died.

    Not a lot. Some chicks are just not meant to live, even if they make it all the way through hatching. The first one sounds like it had something physically wrong with it, some deformity. The second sounds more like a failure to thrive. Some chicks just never learn to eat and drink, even if you do every thing right.

    4. Speaking of pecking- everything says to keep your chickens from pecking each other. I'm kind of confused on what qualifies as a peck- because they seem to be doing it all the time- although not causing any damage to each other that I can tell. The birds will get some feed or litter stuck to their back and somebody else takes it off- or looks like they are grooming the other bird. Also, they'll be running around or going to eat, and 2 birds end up in each other's face- "You looking at me?" They seem to say- and give a little peck. Again, it doesn't seem to cause any damage. To me it appears to be that they are establishing the pecking order in the flock. Is this normal, or do I need to stop this stuff?

    It sounds pretty normal to me. Unless they gang up on one or you see physical damage, I would not worry about it.

    I'm not even going to try to guess the breeds while they are chicks. There are a whole lot of different possibilities for any of them. Good luck and welcome to the adventure.
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    South Georgia
    Quote:The vent is it - but chickens also have an umbilicus, which may not be fully healed when they are very young. I've never had to treat one, but once in a while the spot will get infected. Just put a dab of Neosporin or something similar on it -- or just watch it and leave it alone.

    Rule of thumb about pecking: as long as they don't draw blood, just put up with it, you can't stop it. If someone gets wounded and there is visible blood, the others are likely to attack the wound, so that's when to take action. I once separated a hen for a day because she had a little cut on the top of a toe that was being attacked. It was actually healed well enough by bedtime to put her back.

    They may be pecking each other more than they would if they were outdoors. You might try short periods outside. A peck or two now and then, to say who's boss, who gets to eat first, all sorts of things, is the way it goes -- but if they seem to be doing a lot more than that, they would no doubt benefit from some distraction -- and probably the best one is simply being allowed on grass/ground where they can do what comes naturally, forage for food.
     
  7. blkwdw

    blkwdw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 29, 2011
    Hi and welcome!
    1)I have only raised 3 groups of incubated chickies and put pine bedding down from day one. Never had any issues with it yet ( knock on wood)
    2) the chick starter you give them does not require the chicks have grit. If you are giving them something other than chick starter ( snacks) than what I used was sand..a whole lot cheaper than grit and they love to dust themselves in it... very early on
    3) never had shipped babies, but I would imagine the shipping was hard on them
    4)Pecking...you're not going to stop it... they establish a pecking order early on..I had a little banty that was half the size of another chick, went up to it ~ 2 days old..looked it right in the eye...and pecked its eye ( luckily no harm done) we named that one ralee after our granddaughter [​IMG]
    5) was this 5? I had only used a 40 watt reg bulb the first week and now ( at 10 days old) they are not using a light for heat because its 100 degrees during the day and 80 at night and they were trying to get as far from the light as possible so I turned it off

    anyway, thats my input.. I too, can watch them for hours, they are so funny. [​IMG]
     
  8. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    My Coop
    [​IMG]
    I have brooder boxes for the chicks as soon as they hatch. I have pine shavings in the boxes. I have had no problems.
    [​IMG]

    After they have dried out they go into my brooder cabinet. My brooder cabinet has 1/2 x1/2 wire and the chicks do fine on it.
    [​IMG]

    You only need to supply grit when you are feeding the chicks other foods or treats.

    There can be any number of reasons why chicks die and some are a mystery.

    Pecking is normal. They are establishing their pecking order. Only intervene if the pecking starts to draw blood, then I would take the pecker out for awhile for a time out.

    Chicks are really fun to watch. This is my hatchery and I sit out here for hours and watch the chicks. The last hatch is out in the brooder coop but the incubator is full again and just waiting fot the next hatch. (I'm retired)
    [​IMG]

    I think you have your breeds figured out pretty good from what you described.

    Good luck and have fun!!!
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
  9. M.sue

    M.sue Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2011
    Michigan
    Quote:
     
  10. Ksane

    Ksane Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:What an awesome setup you've got! Between your pictures (and my newly found "chicken math" I've just learned about) I've got ideas running around in my head that'll keep me busy until long after the new year![​IMG]
     

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