Can you love them too much?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by O.Wendell Douglas, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. O.Wendell Douglas

    O.Wendell Douglas Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 2, 2011
    So, we got our chicks yesterday, and our four kids were ecstatic. We were sure to wash up before and after handling the chicks, but I wonder, can new little chicks, fresh from the US mail, get too much attention, right out of the box?

    I'm asking b/c we already lost 3 or 4. Conditions otherwise seem ideal and up to all the advice you folks offer. (Well, we might have cooked them with the heat lamp before we figured that one out...)

    Is there a rule/bit of advice on how much to hold 'em? I need something to tell the kids. Mr. Kimball isn't answering my calls.

  2. ColoredEggHome

    ColoredEggHome Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 16, 2011
    Jacksonville, NC
    Congrats on your new chicks. Sorry about your losses. I dont have any answers for you though as I am a newbie myself but I don't think you can love them too much. [​IMG]
  3. Emmalion

    Emmalion Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2011
    Western Massachusetts
    [​IMG] Both of you.

    I would let them get settled and destressed before handling to much. Also don't take them away from their heat too long or they could get cold.
  4. bunnibird55

    bunnibird55 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2009
    NW Ohio
    They need to rest and get their little bodies regulated before they are held very much. I usually don't hold my chicks, even the ones I hatch, for the first three days until they start eating and drinking regularly. I have always been told to not overdo holding any type newborn/hatched baby until they can get their strength up. That being born/hatched/shipping stuff is tiring!
  5. Theapplechicks

    Theapplechicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2011
    Chicks are pretty fragile from what I understand, and need to be handled w/ care. I would suggest limiting it until they get a little bigger.
  6. KimberlyJ

    KimberlyJ Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2010
    Besides, they need time to eat and sleep in order to grow big and strong. [​IMG] Chicks take the most adorable naps off and on all day long.
  7. Steergirl

    Steergirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2011
    Houston Area
  8. lady feathers

    lady feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 29, 2010
    I have heard people say not to hold them/handle them a bunch in the first day or two becasue it can kill them of course they never say why!

    My best guess would be that they are under alot of stress.... in the first few days they have spent forever trying to pip their way out of an egg, rotate around and squeeze through the opening they have created only to be wisked off into a box full of chicks have their butts squeezed to determine sex..... into another box they go, then finally sent to be put in yet another box to fill someone's order.... spend 1-3 days cramped for space, gro-gel, and fresh air all while trying to stay warm in transport. Then they are taken out inevitably inspected by the new owner and put in a whole new environment "the brooder".

    It's alot for a new chick to handle. It is soo hard not to handle them though- just too much cuteness. If you try to give them a few days to just adjust then I think it is safe to take them out and handle them some. But you have to keep in mind that they can drop their body temp pretty quickly when they are out from under the light in those first few days/weeks. Also, if they peep alot when being held they may be wanting the company of their brooder mates (they are very social) and being seperated rom them can stress them out further. Don't be afraid to handle them at all though in the first few days still need to take the time to give some quick examinations for problems like pasty butt, etc...

    Don't beat yourselves up about the already lost chicks, I'm sure it wasn't your fault.... losing a few is generally expected that's why so often the put extras in the box (it's just part of raising chicks). Just try to think of them as newborn babies... they are cute and adorable and all you want to do is hold them and cuddle them but for the most part they want to be left alone to sleep! After they get to a point where thay are pretty active and bouncing around or comin to the edge of the brooder to see you handle them all you want, just keep in mind they still need the heat, feed, water and buddies don't keep any one chick out for too long!

    Have fun with your new aditions..... they are so great!
  9. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer Premium Member

    May 11, 2010
    Once I get my chicks settled in I leave them alone for 24 hours except for the diligent hovering to make sure they don't run out of food and water. I like to use paper towels in the 'chick box' and change them at least 2 x a day. I don't pick the chicks up at that time either as I herd them with my hand. Although using paper towels requires more labor this substrate does allow me to observe the feces and is not as dusty as pine shavings. After 24 hours, and once I feel the chicks are stable, I will gently herd a few in my hand at a time. I cup them carefully only for a second then put them down.

    As the chicks grow older they will display typical survival instincts- they will panic and bolt at loud noises, shadows and fast movement. They don't like to be picked up as that mimics the predatory behavior of a hawk. Once the chicks recognize you as the food dispenser they will come when called usually about 6 weeks or so.

    The key to handling chickens is to remember they evolved as prey animals. Being singled out, handled and separated from their flock is very stressful. I like to get down on their level and socialize with them by mimicking their behavior. I use my fingers to pick at bits of food, scratch and act like a chick.

    Note how this chick is examining the veins in my hand.


    Meanwhile this chick is pecking on my arm.


    And the old broody cleaning after her chicks.


    Note my cupping technique. This chick had injuries from transportation and was being examined. She survived and is doing well.


    My advice is to get on the floor and watch those chicks! Just remember chickens are prey animals and do have certain instincts to survive. They are not a 'pet' like a dog or cat but can worm their way into your heart with their funny antics. I hope this helps.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2011
  10. O.Wendell Douglas

    O.Wendell Douglas Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 2, 2011
    Thanks for the great replies everybody. I'm scared to go check the death toll this morning. Maybe they're recovering...Now I have to learn how to post pictures in here, that's my next project.

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