Adding chicks in the spring!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Roy Rooster, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. Roy Rooster

    Roy Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all,

    I plan on adding some new chicks to my flock this spring. I have never done this before. The Newby's will have their own digs so they will not share the same coop and pen.

    My question particularly is, what is the risk of infection to my current flock if I bring new chicks on to the property? I have heard that adding new birds can cause the established flock to get sick. Is this the same for adding new chicks from a reputable breeder? I am ordering 6 chicks from my pet chicken. Any advise or information from those who have done this before would be great!

    Thanks
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    The risk of infection from new birds applies mostly to adult or juvenile chickens. However, people have run into a lot of grief by buying chicks from "meets" and disreputable breeders.

    MPC is a very good outfit. They run a breeding program using Amish certified breeders and lease incubation space at Meyer Hatchery in Ohio. You won't run any risk of these chicks infecting your flock.
     
  3. Roy Rooster

    Roy Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you so much. That makes me feel so much better. I have never added chicks before so I was unsure if it was going to cause illness to my current flock. Thanks again.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree with Azygous, you should be fine. It’s not the age of the chicks but where they come from. Major hatcheries that have been around a while have very strict biohazard security. They are not going to stay in business long if they start selling diseased chicks. I do not worry about bringing in new diseases with hatchery chicks from an established hatchery.

    It is not unusual for a flock to develop their own flock immunities. They may be infected with something but since they develop immunities you never know it. Bringing in chickens from other sources always carries a risk of bringing in a disease or parasite. This is chickens from established flocks. Chickens recently exposed to other chickens, like at a chicken swap, are even more at risk.

    It’s possible your existing flock has developed their own immunities and could infect your new chicks. I know my flock has a parasite that causes Coccidiosis, I had chicks get infected once. The way I get around that us to feed them some dirt from the run where the older chickens are to the chicks in the brooder at Day 2 or 3, as soon as they learn what their main food is. I keep feeding them dirt from the run every three or four days to keep them supplied with that parasite, but keep the brooder very dry and don’t feed them a lot of dirt. Within two to three weeks they have developed an immunity to that parasite. It will still live within their bodies so you never get rid of it, but it will not harm them once they develop that immunity. If the brooder is wet or you feed them a lot of wet dirt from the run the numbers of that parasite can multiply to the point it does cause a problem, but keeping things dry works for me.

    To me, the advantages of feeding the chicks run dirt at a very young age while in the brooder to the adult members is not only they start working on strengthening their immune system immediately, but they get grit in their system plus any probiotics the adults may have.

    I also brood outdoors. My brooder is in the coop so they get even greater exposure to the adults and whatever they may have. They are going to have to face that anyway at some point, I prefer that be in the brooder where I can better observe them.
     
  6. Roy Rooster

    Roy Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you so much for your post. The information your supplied was very informative. I was wondering how I was going to get the new chicks used to the flora of the established girls outside. Thy will have their own digs near the girls pen but not in a vicinity where they can be harmed by the big girls. Would it also be helpful to feed the chicks grass from the area where their coop and pen will be placed? I don't want to overwhelm their system but I do want to get them used to the flora of the outdoors where they will be living. How about goodies from my garden, is that a good idea or not.

    I am ordering from My Pet Chicken. From what I have gathered in research and testimonials from other chicken keepers they are a very good company and sale very healthy chicks.

    This is just the first time I have added new chicks in 6 years. The girls that I have now were from Cackle hatchery and will be 7 years old this summer. I felt it was time to add
    a few more to my flock since they are getting old and seem to be laying a lot less. I let my girls live on my farm till they die a natural death. I do not get rid of cull my girls just because they are not laying. They are my pets till the cross rainbow bridge. Thanks again for you post, very helpful.
     
  7. Roy Rooster

    Roy Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the link. I was considering brooding outdoors in their coop but was unsure how I would go about this. I will be getting my chicks in May so hopefully
    most of our cold weather will be behind us and I will be able to pull it off.

    I need to do a lot more research on this of course, but this gives me a really good place to start. Thanks again!!
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    One of the first things my broody hens teach their chicks is to peck at dirt. This gets grit in their system, gets them started on their immunities, and gets adult probiotics into their system. They also get things to digest for nutrients and even pull minerals from the dirt.

    But soon she takes them out to eat grass and other stuff too. So yes grass and stuff from the garden would be good in small amounts as long as they have grit. But you want to keep their main feed the purchased age-appropriate chick feed, Starter or Grower. That feed contains a balance of nutrition they need. A general rule of thumb is to keep grass or other treats to no more than 10% of their daily feed intake.

    Another thing. When a broody hen teaches her chicks to eat grass and such, that grass is usually growing with roots firmly in the ground. The chicks, or adult chickens for that matter, break off small pieces to eat. They do not eat long strands, at least not many. Long strands of grass or other such foods can get wadded up in their crop and block the exit. That is not good. Some people cut a piece of turf, grass roots, and dirt to put in the brooder so they can pull it apart. Or chop that stuff up into pretty small pieces.

    But yes, as soon as they have had grit, they can eat that stuff.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    [​IMG]

    This is what I use to brood chicks in the coop. I just started 28 eggs yesterday in the incubator. Those chicks will go straight in here when they hatch. It might be in the single digits Fahrenheit outside when they go in, it might be in the 60’s or even warmer. With the weather here it will likely be both sometime while they are in there. To me this demonstrates the biggest challenge to brooding outdoors, temperature swings.

    I use heat lamps but others use hovers, heating pads, emitters and probably other things. Your goal when brooding outside (also inside but inside in a steady temperature it’s easier) is to keep one area warm enough in the coldest temperatures and another area cool enough in the warmest temperatures. As long as you give the chicks that choice, I find they are excellent straight out of the incubator or from the post office in self-regulating.

    I use heat lamps. In winter I wrap this really well in plastic to help hold heat in but that chimney to the left where one heat lamp goes provides good ventilation while keeping breezes off of them. I use two 250 watt heat lamps on one end. Sometimes I find ice in the far end of the brooder but the end the chicks are on stays pretty toasty. After a few days they start spending a lot more time in colder areas than you would expect. What I have here is more of a summer configuration, breezes still blocked but a lot more open. And I often use 75 or 125 watt bulbs. One summer during a ridiculous heat wave for me I turned the daytime heat off at 2 days, the nighttime heat off at 5 days. Their body language told me they did not need it and they obviously didn’t.

    If you decide to go with that heating pad method LG linked, I suggest you also find the heating pad cave thread Blooie started. It’s long but they discuss issues that have come up with that method and how to manage them. Blooie is really good at answering PM’s to help people through some of those issues.

    I really like brooding them outside with the adult chickens (though separated for protection) for several reasons other than it’s not inside the house and I like to stay married. I think it strengthens their immune system, exposing them to the adults. If they eat dirt the adults are on it gets probiotics the adults have into their systems, starts them working on the flock immunities they might need, and gets grit in their system. You can accomplish a lot of this by feeding them dirt from the run but also exposing them to the adults is even better. Plus if they grow up with the adults, integration is much easier. If they are exposed to cold weather they feather out faster. I know some people really like brooding them indoors but for me outdoors is the way to go.
     

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