Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Chicken Breeders & Hatcheries' started by ck_dunham, Dec 8, 2010.
I'm sorry you and your family had such a sad experience with this hatchery. If you don't mind though...I'd like to share with you what our (my husband's and myself) experience with his chicks have been over the past three days - it's a bit odd.
Let me preface by saying that we never intended to buy any chicks. I don't know Allen (and was somewhat hesitant to even post this due to you saying you "have to wonder" about the positive experiences). I'd never spoken with him until I called him when I saw the ad. I have a bunch of eggs in the incubator and that was our plan. However, I was surfing craigslist (I'm a Craigslist addict) when I came upon this ad that said "Chickdays" and I saw they'd be in Buckner...which is a very short drive away. Allen had Silver-spangled Hamburgs and I just had to have one...so I asked my husband if we could go, and he said sure...so that was the beginning of this.
We picked up our four chicks from him on Friday around 2:30pm at D & S Tractor Supply in Buckner, MO. Today (Sunday) at around that time...it will be 2 days...3 days? (I'm tired, I have the flu and I just took a double dose of Nyquil so excuse me please if I don't have the exact times correct, lol) They were fine on the trip home, but once we got home and I did exactly as I have been told by members on this forum and in several books and resources...they started going downhill almost immediately. I was basically like "what the? Am I the black widow of chicks or something?" They didn't die, mind you...but I believe they came very close.
I did exactly as told and had 1 end of their brooder at 95 and the other end untouched by the heatlamp (virtually). They had fresh water and medicated chick starter in the brooder, and pine shavings. I taught them how to dip beaks and peck at food (but they acted like they already knew it all and basically were indignant that I was shoving their faces in water). Within a few hours I noticed that all of them were flopped out, laying kitty-whompus everywhere - on the cooler side of the brooder. Legs were stretched out in every direction and weird wing positions, etc. One of them had their little beak open and was sort of acting like it was burping. The Mille Fleur would *not* stop guzzling water, I mean she drank it like she'd never drink again. The rest of them were just laying down looking exhausted. It was at this point that I thought they might be too hot. I lifted the heat lamp off and on until the temp was a steady 91 and after a while they seemed to perk up *a little* but not much. More time had passed and once again they were all spread out, acting lethargic and generally just made me feel like they were sick. My Silkie kept opening and closing it's beak and lurching around like a frog eating a fly. I kept posting on the forum here that they weren't peeping *at all* and were acting tired and weird - but they were still eating and drinking a lot of water so I assumed they were just recovering from their recent ordeal of 'warm egg' to nasty world...not so.
Now...since I noticed they perked up a tiny bit when I lowered the temperature, I decided I would lower it a little more (I already knew what to watch for...for signs that they were too cold). Sure thing - I lowered it to 85 and they REALLY started getting active. They were pouncing on each other, pecking each other, etc...very lively and alert. The thought occurred to me that it was *possible* that these chicks hatched in a natural environment rather than a really warm environment (such as from an incubator to a brooder, etc - never getting cold). Then I remembered that when we went to pick up the chicks they were in boxes - and it was overcast and very cold outside. Surely they were also packed early in the morning on Friday also...and surely the vehicle that transported them wasn't 95 either. (underlined for importance) They hatched out Thursday afternoon he said...so for the majority of their little lives after hatching - they were in a chilly environment. My wheels started spinning at that point.
Sooo...I did something I probably shouldn't have and lifted the heatlamp more. It's been about uhherm...7 hours or so? And the temperature in the hot end has been a steady 83.5-83.7 according to three thermometers. They haven't acted the slightest bit sickly since I did that. They're very joyful, happy, healthy, hoppy (but bossy) little chicks. They're not stumbling around looking drunk anymore, and my Silkie isn't lurching like a frog and walking with an open beak anymore - she looks like a normal chick now.
I could be wrong and I often am - but I 100% believe, that these chicks are very healthy birds - but the custom of rearing chickens has changed so drastically that chicks are now being treated with kid gloves by most people (including me) and folks are walking on eggshells (pardon the term) and treating them like china cups when they need not to. =/ It wasn't until I lowered the temperature to 12 degrees below what we are told to keep them at....they started thriving.
Let me remind you that we are only going into day 3 now of having these chicks...but I firmly believe they would have gotten sickly and died had I not lifted that heatlamp off of them.
Like I said... I don't know Allen. I don't know his hatchery. I don't know anything about any breed of chicken. These were our FIRST ever chicks. I don't know what sort of environment these chicks hatched into - but I really believe with everything that I have witnessed in the last three days from our four - that he has healthy chickens and breeds them naturally and doesn't carry them round with kid gloves.
I think his chicks just get sick when they are taken from a natural environment and placed into a snuggly domesticated people-friendly and all-to-warm people home...such as what happened in our case.
Well...that's our experience with Heartland Hatchery thus far. I can't say it's been a pleasant one the entire time - but my chicks are proof positive that anything above 87 degrees was extremely uncomfortable for them.
I will continue to update - but I can say with about 90% certainty that they'll be fine from here on out.
Once again I'm sorry your experience was so very sad...and I really feel for your wife and kids especially - it's hard to lose pets as an adult, let alone a child.
[Edit] I included the picture of our chicks from Heartland Hatchery so you'd know I really am a customer of this hatchery, and I really do have the chicks.
IF our chicks become sickly over time, and if when we introduce them to the hatched chicks later on - if ANY sicknesses, illnesses, or general "something isn't right" starts to happen - I give my word I will definitely post about it here as an update, and admit I was wrong, and that his chicks are sickly. I just don't think that's the case.
[Edit again, lol] In case anyone else just got chicks from him and they're acting like ours did - we have their brooder on a coffee table that sits about 1.5 feet off the floor. The heatlamp is hung about 4 feet above that table (4 feet away from their brooder) and it's at this measurement that the registered temperature on the thermometers is 83.5/83.7. This is an approximate measurement - not exact. I'd get exact for you - but the measuring tape, I left it in the bedroom when I was hanging pictures and I don't really want to wake up the hubby.
Thank you and glad you posted your story. When I said "makes me wonder" I was referring that I was a little sceptical about the posts that looked as tho they signed up just to post a positive post about this hatchery and then was never active here again.
I was not telling anyone not to purchase from this hatchery as I said I was about to purchase from them again after our experience. I too was hesitant to post because I guess I was raised with the "if you cant say something nice about someone then dont say anything at all" way of thinking. I decided to go ahead and tell my story and people can take it for what it is worth to them.
Although the loss of almost all of the chicks was painful for my family I can understand. They are living creatures and IMO chicks are fragile. I am just getting back into them but have raised chickens for probably 15 years or more including hundreds and hundreds of chicks in the past. I guess my issue is more about how differently I was treated after my contact with Allen and telling him about what happened. Before hand not only had I contacted him he had contacted me on three or four occasions asking if I was interested in buying such and such breeds that he had at the time or telling me what breeds he would have the next chick day. When it was about me putting money in his pocket it was all good but once there was a hint that I might not be putting anymore in then it wasnt even worth his time to answer his phone. Maybe he has a point, why waste time if it doesnt end up profiting him? I was also raised with the understanding that "it isn't always about money" or at least it shouldnt always be. So I can not support this hatchery and will share my story anytime I can and let others decide if they want to or not.
Glad all is well with your little ones and hope they continue to thrive and we will also hope that anyone else's chicks from Heartland live a long happy life. Our chicks did great until about day 10 or so then had no more deaths after about day 14 or so although I dont think they are growing at the rate they should.
I wasn't there, and I don't know you, but if what you say is an accurate account of the events, I believe you were treated unfairly. never did I say you were not. My main concern was for the chicks, really. That and I didn't know you had already reared chicks in the past (I thought this was your family's first experience with them). =) I really am sorry, as stated in my original post, about your chicks...it is very sad what happened to them, and I can't for the life of me think what could have happened. Day 10 was doom-day...up until 2 weeks and now you have slow growth? I will definitely be more mindful during those days, and look at their growth and what size they (should) be for their breed(s). I DO appreciate your post (please don't assume I didn't, because my experience has been great thus far). It's posts like yours that encourage people to take a closer look at their chicks. When people purchase from hatcheries or breeders or even forum members - I think it's important to voice the good, the bad and the ugly...so we can all have a reference (each other) when coming across illnesses or problems with our chicks and compare notes as to what the culprit might be or how many chicks were affected, etc. I'm glad you posted...I'm sorry if I didn't seem that I was.
Additionally, a reputable breeder of *any* kind of creature, whether it be chickens or dogs or cats...should want to know possible illnesses that could be hereditary in nature or lead back to a rooster problem, etc. If mine do spiral downward and exhibit the same symptoms I will contact the hatchery and tell them I think they may have a problem that needs to be looked into. Hopefully they'd be concerned and want to take a peek into their breeding stock to see where there might be a problem (if there is one).
I'm not sure what you mean by he breeds them naturally?
I can think of a couple of possibilities:
1. You mean he lets the roosters mate with the hens rather than performing Artificial Insemination. If that was what you meant, I can't think that would make any difference in the health of the chicks.
2. You mean he lets broody hens incubate the eggs rather than hatching in an incubator. If that was what you meant, I would be stunned to learn that is the case. Waiting for a hen to go broody and then being limited to the number of eggs she can hatch in one setting, would vastly limit the number of chicks he can produce. The only way to produce enough chicks to be considered a "hatchery" is to incubate them. One incubated egg/chick is the same as another - there is nothing "natural" about it.
Regardless, I am glad your chicks are now doing better. My guess would be that your thermometer is not accurate, and was reading too high. When you lowered the temperature "12 degrees" you were actually lowering it to the 90 or so that they are happiest at, at that age.
I actually do not keep a thermometer under my chicks, but adjust the temperature according to their behavior. If they are huddled under it, they are cold an I need to turn it up. If they stay on the perimeter of the light, rarely venturing under it, it is too hot and I need to turn it down. If they are spread out, happily running around spending some of their time under the heat and some of it at the opposite end of the brooder eating and drinking, the temperature is just about right. Rather than raise and lower a lamp to achieve this, I just plug it into a lamp dimmer. That way the turn of a switch makes the adjustment I need.
I had three different thermometers in their brooder (three different brands) two were mercury and 1 was digital. Digital registers at 83.5 and mercury register at 83.7. I assure you, there's nothing wrong with the thermometers. However, I have since pulled all three of them out of there...as my chicks are doing a really good job of telling me when they're too hot/too cold, so I'm going by their actions and behavior instead of a reading on a thermometer (like you do). Mine are fine at 83.5 (accurate reading). I didn't know about lamp dimmers - but I will definitely look into that, because pretty soon we're going to be at the ceiling raising that lamp. LOL Thank you! Home Depot or Lowes would have one maybe? PetCo? Tractor Supply?
In regard to natural breeding, I used the wrong word, I think. What I said was: "I really believe with everything that I have witnessed in the last three days from our four - that he has healthy chickens and breeds them naturally and doesn't carry them round with kid gloves." Perhaps "breeding" wasn't the appropriate word to use in that sentence. As stated, I'm quite sick with a nasty flu and had recently taken meds. lol What that sentence was supposed to mean is that I believe he isn't too cautious about keeping them at 95 all the time or in a brooder 24/7, treating them with kid gloves. (they were all in cardboard boxes on an overcast day for 3 hours in several different towns over the weekend...one of which was outdoors). I think he just lets them be chicks...and acclimate themselves to whatever environment they are in naturally. There are several different vids I've seen of mother hens out in fairly chilly air with their baby chicks and the chicks were fine (and not under her wing). I think rearing or raising was probably the better word that I should have used, as I wasn't referring to the actual act of breeding.
Anyway, opinions will vary greatly all across the board in regard to how chicks should be raised, but to be quite blunt - I don't believe anyone is right and I don't believe anyone is wrong. I just watch the chicks and react according to what they're displaying.
I hope I didn't sound argumentative - I didn't mean to - I really was just interested to know what you meant. For the record, I really kind of agree with you. I don't handle mine with kid gloves either and they seem to do just fine. In the past couple of months I've hatched two small batches from my own eggs. The first were outside full-time at 2 1/2 weeks, since the weather here was pretty mild. The second batch, even though it was a month later in the year, were outside full-time at only 12 days old. By outside, I mean they spend their days truly outside, in a chick run that is covered by a tarp, and at night I carry them into the coop where they have a "nursery" area to sleep. They were 3 weeks old yesterday, and I woke up to see the ground covered in frost, and the thermometer reading only 29 degrees. I'll admit my heart skipped a beat thinking of those 15 three-week-olds out there in the coop, but they were fine when I went to check on them. In the coop they have straw to bed down in and no drafts, and the 15 warm bodies huddled together seemed to keep them warm enough. I know many people who swear they have to be under a heat lamp until they are six-weeks-old but I've never had any chicks under a lamp past four weeks, and those were chicks I hatched in January. I do think acclimation is key though. If I had taken those three-week-olds out from under a heat lamp and thrown them in the coop and it was 29 degrees, I'm sure they would have perished. It was because they had a week and a half to acclimate to the changing night/day temps, that the drop in the temperature didn't seem to faze them.
For the lamp dimmer, I actually made my own. You can buy them at Lowes or Home Depot for about $10, I believe, but they are really pretty easy to make. I bought an electric box, and outlet cover that contains 2 outlets and a dimmer, then cut off a cord from a non-working appliance, and wired it in using wire nuts. Screwed the outlet cover over the box and voila. I made a couple of them and I think they only cost a couple of bucks apiece. I've been using them for about 10 years for herps and chicks and they're still going strong.
Don't get too suspicious, but some of us are too busy with life to post on here all the time. As for him being concerned about your chick problems, if I sell thousands of chicks and a couple people have problems with maybe a total of 2 or 3 dozen chicks, should I really go crazy and re-evaluate my whole breeding program? As for thermometer's, I used one the first year I had a brooder. Then I threw it out. Use a big enough brooder (I use a very large stock tank)and put heat lamp in one area. they will adjust on their own to the part of the brooder that feels good to them. I have never lost a chick yet. I plan to call Allen in the spring. I will be buying some more egg layers, some broilers, and maybe some heritage turkeys.
I agree with ironjim.
This is the first time I have checked this thread since I orig posted a few months ago. Have not had time or reason to post in any other threads. Just wanted to say that I am still extremely happy with my chickens I purchased through heartland hatchery. My girls are now 5 1/2 months old. Out of 12 I have 9 left because some turned out to be roosters. I expected that to happen and glad that I only have 9. My girls have always been heathy. For being a first time chicken owner I feel very lucky to have had 0 problems so far and no deaths.
I posted in 2012. My husband got more chicks than I initially knew about. It was 2 dozen. We ended up with 2 roosters, the rest were hens. Unfortunately, every time my husband tried to let them free range, we always lost some to coyotes or other evil critters. The last carnage was early fall. We had let them have all kinds of room free ranging, and something got to them. We think it may have been coons, but we don't know for sure. After that, no free ranging at all. We are down to nine hens and one rooster. Unfortunately, the hens don't do much laying. My DH and my brother built them brooding boxes, but we are only getting one or two eggs a week. Hoping that in the spring they will produce more. We will be purchasing more chicks from Heartland Hatchery this year.