ALL ADVICE WELCOME - Baby Chick Care

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by zackcrack, Jan 21, 2016.

  1. zackcrack

    zackcrack Out Of The Brooder

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    So, with my chicks' arrival quickly approaching, I'm getting everything ready and comfortable for them. I have a few questions:

    1) So, my setup is a 4'x4' wooden brooder, two heat lamps with red 250-watt bulbs, pine shavings, one long feeder and one quart-sized feeder with DuMor chick starter, three quart-sized waterers that will have electrolytes, quik chik, etc, and 2' tall sides on the brooder, what else do I need? Is this setup the best I can offer? I will have about 28 chicks in total.

    2) A question I'm having a hard time getting answered is, what should I look for in my new chicks? How do I kno wwhich ones to keep an eye on? Are there any common diseases, sicknesses, problems, etc. that I need to be on the watch for?

    3) When will it be safe to let the chicks outside in their run/coop?

    4) When will hens begin to lay eggs?

    5) When and what size do I provide grit for the chicks?

    6) When should I switch the chicks to the next type of food?

    7) Which brands of food for chicks and chickens do you like best?

    8) For a breeding flock with laying hens, what should I feed?

    9) How high can a larger, heftier chicken jump/fly? If my coop has 6' tall sides, can I place roosts 2' or 3' up near the sides?

    10) ANY small bit of advice goes a long, long way!


    Thank you, everyone!
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm only going to address the one, single, most crucial issue of chick care and that's heat.

    Ditch the extra heat lamp. No, wait. Ditch them both. Heat lamps cook chicks. You want something to warm themselves under, not create an oven environment. They aren't cakes baking in an oven.

    How many chicks are coming? Up to a dozen chicks can fit nicely under a heating pad system. The heating pad is a gentle safe way to warm chicks. A heat lamp has the risk of fire and over-heating chicks. See "Mama Heating Pad for the Brooder" thread on this forum.

    And the most important thing to know about heating chicks is that it needs to be around 85 degrees F or around 30C directly beneath the heat source only! The heat charts are weighted much too heavily on the warm side when chicks prefer much cooler temps.

    The rest of the brooder and surrounding room should be much cooler. Much, much cooler!

    I also have heard negative things about Dumor feed, but I'll let others with direct experience address that.
     
  3. zackcrack

    zackcrack Out Of The Brooder

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    Where would I get these heat pads? Why do they work better than the lamps? My brooder is pretty large and the sides are only 2 feet high, that's why I thought the lamps would be fine.
     
  4. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Let me share a couple of videos with you and you make the call....

    [​IMG]
    My chicks indoors under Mama Heating Pad Temp in the room, 69 degrees. Temp under the heating pad, 82.5. Healthy, happy babies all grown up now and laying well.

    [​IMG]
    Those same chicks a couple of days later out in their pen in the run. Now I put them out there from the start, but for this group hubby had been very ill and in the hospital so it was a couple of days before I could move them from indoors to outdoors. By the way, the outside temps were in the teens and twenties at night.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Take some time to browse thru the raising chicks forum to learn some tips and tricks...weigh carefully what you read.

    28 chicks are not going to fit in a 4x4 brooder for more than a few or so weeks and at 2ft high you'll need a lid after about a week.

    Just stick with starter feed and plain water, unless a chick is in distress.


    Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:
    They need to be pretty warm(~85-90F on the brooder floor right under the lamp and 10-20 degrees cooler at the other end of brooder) for the first day or two, especially if they have been shipped, until they get to eating, drinking and moving around well. But after that it's best to keep them as cool as possible for optimal feather growth and quicker acclimation to outside temps. A lot of chick illnesses are attributed to too warm of a brooder. I do think it's a good idea to use a thermometer on the floor of the brooder to check the temps, especially when new at brooding, later I still use it but more out of curiosity than need.

    The best indicator of heat levels is to watch their behavior:
    If they are huddled/piled up right under the lamp and cheeping very loudly, they are too cold.
    If they are spread out on the absolute edges of the brooder as far from the lamp as possible, panting and/or cheeping very loudly, they are too hot.
    If they sleep around the edge of the lamp calmly just next to each other and spend time running all around the brooder they are juuuust right!

    The lamp is best at one end of the brooder with food/water at the other cooler end of the brooder, so they can get away from the heat or be under it as needed. Wattage of 'heat' bulb depends on size of brooder and ambient temperature of room brooder is in. Regular incandescent bulbs can be used, you might not need a 'heat bulb'. You can get red colored incandescent bulbs at a reptile supply source. A dimmer extension cord is an excellent way to adjust the output of the bulb to change the heat without changing the height of the lamp.


    Or you could go with a heat plate, commercially made or DIY: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/pseudo-brooder-heater-plate
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I still like my heat lamp. I would only use one, and many times I use 125 watt bulb, I don't often use a 250. My chicks go outside on nice days, when the outside temperature and the brooder temperature is the same, or warmer. I don't worry about grit as long as my chicks are only eating grower. I use parakeet grit if I do add some. I like to give my chicks a chunk of sod or some dandelion greens to peck at after the first couple of weeks. Then I might add some grit. I also have a short roost for them to sit on. I integrate my chicks into the flock at 6-10 weeks depending on temperatures.

    I keep mine on a grower starter until they switch to an all flock. I don't use medicated feed, as I raise mine when it's dryer and warmer to avoid cocidiosis.

    Most start laying between 4-8 months depending on breed and time of year.

    Don't crowd, overheat, good ventilation without a draft, and bored chicks will start pecking each other, so move them to bigger better accommodations as needed.
     
  7. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I apologize for taking so long to see your question. The heating pads we are using are the Sunbeam X-press Heat pads. I think @aart uses the same one for her pseudo-brooder-heat-plate. She'll correct me if I'm wrong, I hope. I got my large one off Amazon.com and the small one I lucked out and found at Walmart. You must be able to bypass the automatic shut-off feature, and it will tell you that you can do that right on the outside of the box. Most newer pads turn themselves off automatically after two hours or so - not good when you have a batch of chicks under it needing the continual heat. This is the link to the one I have:

    http://www.amazon.com/Sunbeam-2013-...kmr1&keywords=Sunbeam+x-tra+large+heating+pad

    Yep, these are good old aches and pains heating pads...nothing fancy or specialized except that auto off feature. @henless called Sunbeam directly, told them what she needed, and scored a Sunbeam heating pad that not only doesn't turn itself off automatically, but also restarts itself in the event of power outage. You can bet I'll be looking into that one for myself! This is the link she provided:

    http://www.sunbeam.com/pain-relief/...ology-blue/000771-810-000.html#sz=12&start=18

    I hope this helps. If you'll read the first page of the Mama Heating Pad thread, you'll find an in depth explanation of why heating pads work so much better and safer than heat lamps.
     
  8. zackcrack

    zackcrack Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all of the replies! I would love the heat pad, but the room that the brooder will be in is just above freezing. I'm worried about there not being enough heat, especially is I need multiple pads for a batch of 28 chicks!
     
  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I would only say that if you aren't comfortable doing it, then by all means, don't! You have to be sure that what you are doing for your chicks is what's best for you and for them. If I didn't have 100% confidence in this way of raising chicks I sure wouldn't have done it either. Mine were out in temps in the teens and twenties, snowstorms, a power outage, and high Wyoming winds. The run their brooder was in was covered in clear plastic, so they were out of direct drafts and were dry. I even had one who was all by his lonesome in a heating pad cave when it was 4 below, although I don't advocate that - his were special circumstances and it was the first time I'd ever used the heating pad system. In fact, it was his success that spurred me to raise all my chicks this way. One large and one small pad butted together would be more than enough for 28 chicks, but again, if you aren't comfortable with it then it isn't the right solution for you. [​IMG]

    Good luck with your babies.....I'm getting anxious for my hatching eggs to get here and can't wait to have little ones to raise again!
     
  10. zackcrack

    zackcrack Out Of The Brooder

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    I'll try it once I'm more familiar with the behavior and logistics or raising them. It's an awesome idea, though!
     

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