Chicks are too easy. Destroy my hubris! Keep me scared!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by VeggieGoneEggie, May 6, 2017.

  1. VeggieGoneEggie

    VeggieGoneEggie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, so here I am, first-time chicken mama. I've got five 3-week-old chick and one 2-week old chick in the homemade brooder, with their organic chick starter, clean water thanks to training them to use a nipple waterer, and warming themselves under their EcoGlow heat panel. Quiet, active, happy, healthy.

    Dude. This has been EASY! A little too easy? Granted, I spent weeks—months, even—reading everything I could about chick care, so I did my homework. But this has been way more of a piece of cake than I expected.

    It's feeling a little suspect, because I see all these stories about seemingly healthy, well-cared-for chicks dropping dead suddenly. I really don't want to get overconfident here, and get lax, leading to a tragedy—I need to stay on my toes.

    So please, experienced chicken people, tell me your greatest horror stories of how things went wrong and you unexpectedly lost your chicks. I'd love to learn from you, so I can stay on top of everything I can control, and also stay very aware that nature sometimes has plans you don't have control over... Scare me straight!
     
  2. blackdog043

    blackdog043 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just from reading how you are set up, I know you did your homework. The only thing unknown, how big is your brooder and will it work until they can go into their coop? It really is easy raising chicks, if you read up on it, before you bring them home and know their needs. One thing to look out for is pasty butt. Other than that I think your good. Some of the things I read on here are scary for the chicks health, because people don't do their homework. This is not saying a chick can't get sick or something happen, just be vigilant. I checked mine in the morning then 12 hours later when I got home.
     
  3. VeggieGoneEggie

    VeggieGoneEggie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ah, good question! Well, the first brooder was a converted Sterilite storage tote that provided about 4.5 total square feet, which I built thinking I'd be getting three chicks (which would have given them 1.5 square feet each). Alas, I actually came home with five chicks (oops), leaving them with 0.9 square feet each. So I rolled up my sleeves, got myself some wood and chicken wire and plexiglass panels, and built myself a 4' x 2' brooder, creating 8 total square feet. Then I got myself an impulse chick #6. So now my flock of 6 gets 1.33 square feet each. Still not the ideal minimum of 2 square feet, and I can see already how quickly they're growing. I'm aiming to get the coop and run done by next weekend so they can at least start doing daily field trips outside and just come back to the brooder at night—and if the weather holds up here, maybe they can move into the coop permanently by the following weekend (they'll be 5 and 4 weeks old then). Thoughts?
     
  4. blackdog043

    blackdog043 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, that sounds like a good plan. If they don't have the 2 Sq ft but get along it will ok. If you can ween them off the heat, that last week and they are about full feathered, I would move them to the coop at that point. They will be fine as long as your temps don't go below freezing.
     
  5. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Absolutely do start letting those chicks, even the younger ones, spend days outside now. They can handle it just fine as long as the temps stay above 70F. Keep reducing the heat for them at night until they are weaned by around four or five weeks.

    Chicks exposed early on to cool temps feather out much, much faster. I have two two-week old broody-raised chicks that are romping outdoors on days it doesn't get above 50F, spending very little time warming under their broody hen, and they're feathered out as much as four-week old indoor brooded chicks.

    Chicks do not need to be coddled. They're tough, requiring only enough of a heat source to restore the body heat that slowly seeps away through the unfeathered parts of their bodies. Once nearly fully feathered, chicks may require no heat at all unless the temperature dives down below freezing.
     
  6. VeggieGoneEggie

    VeggieGoneEggie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good to know!!! Okay. This will motivate me to construct a mini-run for them today that they can start spending their days in. :)

    I'm using the EcoGlow heater, so there's no way to really adjust the heat. But could I put it on its uppermost level?
     
  7. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Yes, raise the Eco-glo as the chicks feather out.

    You will have as much fun as your chicks in an outdoor setting. Some folks didn't know chicks can fly because they've never let them outside in a space large enough for low-level flight. If you can let them out in a big yard, they will impress you with their aeronautics, often accompanied by shrill cries of extreme exuberance.
     
  8. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Chicken Obsessed

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    Chick horror stories?
    I really have none.
    I have had sudden loss of birds. I lost an 8 month old EE to egg binding. I lost a bantam cochin at less then a year to heart issue or something of the like.

    We have lots of hawks. By lots I mean every day I see different varieties well within the zone for my birds. So far a secure run and supervised out time have spared my birds.
    When I close the big windows on my coop in the fall they are covered in raccoon prints. Again the secure run saves my birds.

    Never let your guard down. I am in the middle of town and have plenty of predators around.
     
  9. sjango

    sjango Out Of The Brooder

    So much good information floating around on this topic! :D
     
  10. VeggieGoneEggie

    VeggieGoneEggie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, salvaged scrap from an old box trailer I tore apart a couple weeks ago and some leftover chicken wire, and put together a little outdoor playpen! Nothing fancy and definitely not predator proof, but enough to keep them safe and contained while I'm at home to monitor them. It's been 73 degrees F all afternoon, with the hot New Mexico sun providing them an opportunity to get real warm if too chilly.

    They of course freaked out as I put them in a "travel container" ... but before I even took them out, as soon as the sun hit them, a couple already had legs and wings splayed out enjoying the rays!!! My DH didn't know about the sunbathing thing, and I laughed as he thought the quick trip outside had already killed them...
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    SUCH A GOOD IDEA!!!! They've been having a blast all afternoon, scratching around, dust bathing and sunning themselves. They are obviously so happy!

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    Hmmmm, I'm beginning to see that the biggest threat to my chickies is not the coons or yotes.... but my beloved pup....
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    Last edited: May 7, 2017

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