Greenfire Farms Chick Survival Rate

elkinsacres

Chirping
5 Years
Jan 10, 2015
27
5
59
Elkins, AR
I'm glad you mentioned your direct experience with the Niederrheiners as this mirrors mine exactly. VERY small chicks for a bird that grows so large. I just hatched out a few from Brice with Sunbird Farms, and they are dinky little chicks. That being said, they seem much more robust than my Greenfire Farms batch. Shipping takes a huge toll on chicks, and that is magnified when the chicks are smaller in size.

I also agree on the whole 'rare breed' theory. These are breeds that fell out of favor for a variety of reasons, but most importantly that stronger birds have been more readily raised. Rarity is also a bit of a misnomer in some cases so I like to call them 'boutique' chickens. I think they are GREAT for the backyard hobbyist or someone that can dedicate loads of time to them. For homesteaders or folks raising larger numbers of birds, finding the time necessary to...hmmm...coddle some of these fragile fowl may be difficult. I doubt we will continue to breed Niederrheiners past what we have now. If they happen to get stronger and improve, things could change. The fact that the Lemon Cuckoo variety isn't auto-sexing is also a strike against them in my book. I'm raising Bielefelders as well, and they are not only auto-sexing but just some of the hardiest and fastest-growing birds I've ever seen. And I have not seen them picking on their smaller roommates.

Oh well, I have learned a LOT this year, and thank goodness for the community here at BackYardChickens!
 

3riverschick

Poultry Lit Chaser
10 Years
May 19, 2009
8,454
3,209
512
"Rarity is also a bit of a misnomer in some cases so I like to call them 'boutique' chickens."

That's hysterical!
couldn't have put it better myself.


What a visual image!

Best,
Karen
 

UberchicRanch

Chirping
Oct 24, 2015
179
30
86
New England
Hi there,

Just wanted to share some of our experience. First off, I've never used GroGel so to do it justice I can't really give an opinion on the product itself. I hear it's a love / hate type of scenario. The reason I never used GroGel on my own birds or when I would order from a hatchery is the fact that the chicks typically have enough sustenance for about 48 hours. Some say 24 hours but that's being conservative. You don't know what weather or travel conditions these little guys have endured. It typically takes 1-2 days to ship the chicks. That's why it is best practice to introduce the chicks to water and food when you first receive them.

As far as your experience with Greenfire / Sunbird / etc. unfortunately there are too many variables to really nail down all of "the why's" so we could only take a guess. As far as the chicks being pretty small...that could be a number of reasons as well. What it most likely could be is the hens are still too young so they are yet to lay large eggs. Larger eggs do produce larger chicks. That's why you have runts from time to time in a batch because it hatched out of a smaller egg.

I do agree that the deaths seem pretty bizarre. I really wonder what the outcome would be if you didn't have the GroGel. To clarify why the Bielefelders and Niederrheiners are rare...they were developed in Germany in the early 1970s. I believe Greenfire imported them around 2011 or 2013. They were the first to import these chickens into the U.S. As a result, there aren't many of these birds in the U.S. compared to other breeds. However, you find plenty of them in Europe to the point of being uncommon. They are also recognized in the European Standard of Breeds, but are yet to be recognized in the American Standard of Breeds -- The American Standard of Perfection. With that being said, if we don't get more imports of new blood, the breed could have genetic problems which could become the demise of the breed in itself here in the U.S.

With that being said, we are breeders of Bielefelders and Niederrheiners. As I post this at this time, we have not acquired our stock directly from Greenfire. We do plan on importing some more soon to diversify the gene pool, but currently do not have a date. Personally, we have not experienced any deaths (so far - thank God!) The Bielefelders and Niederrheiners do have a better temperament than other breeds and almost seem to be more like dogs than chickens. We've had over 40+ varieties of chickens over the years so we have a good sense of character traits. As far as the auto-sexing of Niederrheiners, although I do agree it is far more difficult than the Bielefelders, I currently have my hypothesis on how to determine the males from females since Day 1. I am detecting a pattern in the coloring of the chicks but as of now I do not want to publish anything until I'm 100% correct consistently at predicting gender. I look forward to the day for publishing the findings. Furthermore, since this breed is not common in the U.S. (or the rest of the world minus Europe, really) we are using best practices as far as selectivity for our breeder birds so that we continue to keep those positive traits of the Bielefelders and Niederrheiners. Unfortunately, I've already come across some "breeders" that are creating chicken mills and that ultimately hurts the breed over here in the U.S. especially!

I really am sad to hear you've had some bad experiences but please do keep us posted with how things turn out. How old are your chicks? If I may, I'd like to test to see if I can identify the gender of your Niederrheiners before it becomes really obvious. Thank you for your post! It helps us as breeders to know and see what's going on out there. I'll be watching this thread to help with quality control for the two breeds. Good luck with the rest of your brood!
 

hofhine68

In the Brooder
Oct 28, 2015
45
4
26
I'm sorry your chicks from Brinkhaven didn't thrive. I ordered three Niederrhiner eggs and six Bielefelder eggs from Brinkhaven two months ago, two of the three Niederrhiners hatched with the help of my broody, mellanistic mutant French Black Copper Marans. Two eggs out of three isn't bad. Two Bielefelder chicks also hatched.

They are are healthy and growing and eating like crazy, but I think I have a girl and boy Niederrhiner, so I'll rehome them as a pair (can't have roosters with my neighbors) once I am positive.

I'm new to BYC - is there a Niederrhiner thread? If yes, could someone direct me?

Greenfire says they can't be sexed, but the one I think is a girl had a tiny black dot on her head, like someone touched her with a flair felt tip pen. The one I think is a boy had a very pale, lighter spot on his head - about the size of a dime.
 

Exotica

C'est La Vie
Aug 16, 2015
427
44
88
Baldwin Park, California
My Coop
My Coop
I'd like to update!

First, I'd like to say that I live in Southern California and GFF is of course, on the opposite side of the country in Florida.

By now, I've won two auctions.

The first auction, I won 12 random assorted chicks - Josette, was a sweetheart and sent me 16.
In total, I received: 2 Bielefelders, 7 Swedish Flower Hens, 5 Cream Legbars, and 2 Black Swedish Hens (Svart Hona's).
All arrived healthy, happy, and vivacious! None died at arrival, but the next day one Swedish Flower Hen passed.

My second auction, which I received October 27, 2015 was for 12 random assorted chicks again and again, she gave me extra - 15.
This time, she was an absolute doll and gave me: 2 East Frisian Gulls (lemon), 4 Svart Hona's, 2 White Pavlovskaya's, 2 Marsh Daisies, 3 Orusts,, 1 Silver Spitzhauben, and 1 Lyonnaise.
The total for this would've been $1, 877 plus $35 shipping! I was lucky to get it for only $175 (including shipping). That's $11.66 per chick!
Anyways, this shipment arrived with all the chicks alive as well. I also believe that these chicks were either shipped to me a day before or on the
same day that they hatched since most of them still had their egg tooth.
(Oh and to prove how sweet Josette is - she went ahead and shipped the chicks before I even paid. Of course I paid her immediately
the next day, but she sent me an e-mail saying she had already shipped the chicks and trusts that I will pay her. She did this because
I have college classes on Wednesdays so she had to ship the chicks on Monday since Tuesday is my only day off. I hadn't even thought of that
since the first batch took her two weeks to send. Such a sweet, sweet lady!)

In total, I've only had one loss from Geenfire Farms and that was the day after they were shipped.
Elkinsacres pictures shows how they were packaged and in my opinion, the chicks were packaged perfectly, with two large hand warmer heat pads, one of those Excelsior nest box mats (woven Aspen fibers), and four small cups of Gro-Gel taped to each corner.
The heat pads were still warm when I got it!
The chicks also had stained beaks, suggesting that they ate the Gro-Gel. In fact, as I was opening the box the second time, three of them were happily munching on the stuff.

I'd also like to add that I was worried before about a rumor I heard of them sending only males chicks if someone won an auction. That is entirely not true! For the auto sexing breeds, they sent me all females.


At first, it took a while for Josette to answer me but once she did, she has been a doll and has answered all my questions.
She gave me extra's both time and their quality of chicks is excellent, especially since hey all survived!
I had ordered chicks from Northern California that arrived with only 50% alive, as opposed to Greenfire Farms 100%
I always give my chicks Save-A-Chic Vitamins and Electrolytes when they arrive.
What I did different with the Greenfire Farm chicks (as opposed to the chick I got from Secret Hills Ranch) is:
Before I even open the box, I get a bowl of water and mix some of the Save-A-Chic power in. As soon as I open the box, I take each one out and dip it's beak in the water at least 4-5 times to make sure that they get their fill of water.
After, I put them under the heat lamp in the brooder and about 30 minutes later, will dip their beak where the waterer is in the brooder to make sure they know where it is.
With Secret Hills Ranch, even though only 50% arrived alive, about 3-4 died the day after. Perhaps my success with these two GFF is because I made sure they were adequately hydrated?

DEFINITELY ORDER FROM THEM!
They're in the top tier and now I understand why. Such sweet people with beautiful birds!

I'm never ordering from anyone else. Seriously!
She even gave me a 20% off coupon for my next purchase.

I'd like to add that I'm so sorry @elkinsacres. I have no idea why your order didn't go the way expected. How long did it take the chicks to get to you? Was it overnight? Also, how was the weather in your area? Was it hot? I see that you have a good amount of chicks, so the cold wouldn't have been an issue but too much heat could've killed them. Of course we don't know what happened, but could it have been an evil mail carrier that shook the heck out of your chicks? Maybe they were just so hungry, ate too fast, and choked? Maybe they had already passed, but shaking made their bodies move and once the heads got into the cups, it made them seem like they drowned? My Gro-Gel wasn't watery at all. Before she shipped mine, I checked the weather for predicted DOA and sent it to her. However, some of my chicks are also getting the "pasty-butt" thing that you mentioned. I've just been checking them daily and cleaning them off.
 
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elkinsacres

Chirping
5 Years
Jan 10, 2015
27
5
59
Elkins, AR
I, too, have updates...

Niederrheiner (Greenfire) = I still have three chicks, and they are doing VERY well - one pullet, two cockerels. They are also VERY friendly, so this is a huge plus for me.

Niederrheiner (Brinkhaven) = Not sure what happened with these chicks, but the Niederrheiners have just been on the small side. Hearing about the correlation between first-year pullets and small chicks, coupled with them being fragile anyway, and I'm willing to write them off.

Niederrheiner (Sunbird) = I also ordered a dozen eggs from Brice. I approached this with great trepidation as I do not care for the treatment of packages by the USPS. I received my package, box placed ON ITS SIDE, even though it was clearly marked with arrows and 'FRAGILE'. I got them inside, let them rest, and put them in the incubator (GQF 1502). 10 days later, I had 7 that were fertile...but 3 of those had clearly detached air cells. I managed to hatch 3 chicks, all of which are doing well.

Niederrheiner (General) = I'm not a big fan. I'll wait and see how they turn out, but they seem like a LOT of work to raise them. Choosing to sell them comes with several caveats so I really need to monitor them for awhile. I don't fault the suppliers, but rather the USPS.

Twentse (Greenfire) = My three survivors have gotten over their pasty butt, and are growing well. Thrilled with them so far and looking forward to seeing them get color.

Isbar (Greenfire) = I picked up a dozen from them, and received fourteen. All arrived healthy with only one appearing a bit weaker. That one is not doing very well, but I'm not giving up just yet. I really, really like the Isbars anyway, and I'm impressed with how well these chicks have done 'out of the box'. The only difference in handling was these were shipped out Monday evening and picked up Wednesday morning (6am). Transit/Handling time was dramatically reduced, and I feel this made a huge difference. All of these chicks immediately took to water and feed and moving around.

Overall, I have no issue with Greenfire. Customer Service (Josette) has been great, and they provide access to some amazing and rare (at least here in the US...) stock. With that rarity and limited bloodlines comes fragility and uncertainty. So...buyer beware from the perspective that some of the newer imports may not be for amateur or new poultry folks. I wouldn't hesitate to order from Greenfire, but I would limit myself to more established breeds to minimize potential deaths. If I lived within reasonable driving distance, wow, I'd have a LOT of their chicks!

Thanks, everyone, for your input and comments here! This has been a fantastic discussion, and I am learning so, so much on BYC!
 

Exotica

C'est La Vie
Aug 16, 2015
427
44
88
Baldwin Park, California
My Coop
My Coop
Sadly, today one of my Svart Hona's chick died and the other one is very, very weak. I have no idea what's going on! Still, two out of 32 is pretty good.
Well, I also lost a SFH so technically, three dead out of 32 is pretty good. I think some chicks are just weaker than others. It's sad really, since we can't help but love them all
as soon we get them. Sigh, I don't know what to do for this chick and have just been feeding it Save-A-Chic water with sugar through a syringe since it's too weak to even lift it's little head.
 

chickendreams24

Crowing
Jul 30, 2015
3,399
2,533
357
Wisconsin, USA
We got a chick that was too weak to lift its head from a feed store and read on BYC where I read that you can feed weak chick/chickens raw egg yolk to help them perk up especially as it is easier for them to digest. I would suggest trying that just separate an egg and crack open the yolk feed it to the chick with a dropper or needle less syringe. It will turn to glue in the down so have paper towels handy. Feed it often but not too much you don't want it to aspirate the yolk. From what I've read the yolk is easier for it to absorb because it lived off the yolk in the egg. Don't use a cold yolk room temperature would be better.
 

3riverschick

Poultry Lit Chaser
10 Years
May 19, 2009
8,454
3,209
512
Sadly, today one of my Svart Hona's chick died and the other one is very, very weak. I have no idea what's going on! Still, two out of 32 is pretty good.
Well, I also lost a SFH so technically, three dead out of 32 is pretty good. I think some chicks are just weaker than others. It's sad really, since we can't help but love them all
as soon we get them. Sigh, I don't know what to do for this chick and have just been feeding it Save-A-Chic water with sugar through a syringe since it's too weak to even lift it's little head.
Hi,

If the chick is this weak it is also too weak to digest the helps you are giving. Weakness and stress make it hard to uptake the helps. Try giving the little one some Poultry Nutri-Drops. Great stuff, I have used it for years on my Light Sussex and collies. It is a top flight emergency nutritional supplement. All natural. Created by a cattle farmer here in the USA under 2 US patents. Measureable in the bloodstream in 30 minutes with 99% utilization. It doesn't need to be digested. Mainlines directly into the bloodstream.
Poultry instructions. Give each new hatched chick one drop only by mouth. Repeat as needed every 8-10 hours until perky.
Add 2-4 ml per gallon to their drinking water for the 1st 2 week to get them off to a strong start.
This stuff really works. What is happening is that as the chick is stressed, it's G.I. tract becomes more unable to properly digest the helps you are giving. So the bird gets weaker. Eventually it reaches a tipping point where the bird's need for energy and nutrition is outbalanced by the lack thereof. The body systems start a cascade of failure and the chick dies.With Bovidr Labs Poultry Nutri-Drops, we can interdict this timeline and because it doesn't need digesting, we can mainline the chick the energy and nutrition it needs to restore balance to its body systems and restore its immune system. http://www.nutridrench.com I get mine at Tractor Supply only 6.99 for the small bottle. That will be enough to start. You spent so much money on these chicks. Just give it a try. Now, tho the Bovidr Labs formulas are species-specific, I talked to the science tech at Bovidr Labs and they also meet the scientific standard for a universal formula. Last season, I raised 42 Light Sussex chicks on the Goat Formula using the Poultry usage and dosage instructions. No sickness, no death, just 42 robust chicks. Bovidr Labs also told me the Beef Formula can be used on dogs. I used the Beef formula on my collie dogs for years with great success. So start out with the Poultry Nutri-Drench and then move to the Goat if you want to save some money. Both worked great for me.
Best Regards,
Karen
 
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UberchicRanch

Chirping
Oct 24, 2015
179
30
86
New England
Hey there, @hofhine68

This is the only known Niederrheiner thread. Please feel free to post there and we'd be happy to contribute!
https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1047672/niederrheiner-thread-all-things-niederrheiner-all-colors

Also, by any chance do you have any pics of your Niederrheiner chicks? I'd post them there too because we are breeders of Niederrheiners and we are dedicated to getting an autosexing solution for the Niederrheiners. I would have to say we haven't seen any dots or flecks on the heads of our chicks yet so that's why I'm very interested in seeing what you're seeing!
 
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