Leg bands, zip ties, or toe punches?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by AinaWGSD, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Sullivan, IL
    I have a broody hen sitting on 11 eggs right now, 3 different breeds. The breeds are all different enough (BLRW, B/B/S orp, and light sussex) that I'm sure I'll be able to tell them apart by breed. But these chicks are kind of an experiment to see which breed we want to concentrate on for meat and eggs, so I would like to track their growth and see how they compare to each other in that regard.

    I've used zip ties to mark chicks before, but never hatchlings. In the past I've used the zip ties to mark which chicks I thought were male and female and didn't start until they were at least 4 weeks old. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has used this method with newly hatched chicks and how often the ties needed to be replaced.

    I've seen spiral leg bands used to mark young chicks too. It seems to me that spiral leg bands would carry less risk of causing injury if we didn't manage to change them quickly enough and the band became too small. But perhaps they would also come off more easily too? Also, I have no idea what size I would need for newly hatched chicks (I'm assuming I'd need the next consecutive size up as the chicks grew and the bands needed to be replaced, but I don't know where to start).

    Toe punching would be permanent, and possibly the easiest option. But I don't know how much "skill" it takes to do this on newly hatched chicks. Nor do I know how often the punch fails and the hole grows closed (making it kind of pointless for ID). From an infection standpoint, would there be any problems with punching the toe and then putting the chick back outside with a broody hen?

    On the one hand, I'm not too concerned about having to change zip ties or leg bands frequently as we plan on taking weights regularly to chart growth. On the other hand, I'm due with baby number 2 about a week and a half after these chicks are due to hatch, so realistically I'm not sure how good we'll be about getting around to checking bands or ties once baby-induced insomnia sets in.

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