Meat Birds - 1st timer questions

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by DottieMarie, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. DottieMarie

    DottieMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2008
    South East MI
    I'm sure these questions have been asked before so I apologize for my ignorance, but.....
    I have White Mountain chicks (~10 days old),
    - should I let them eat continously?
    -what temperature do they need to be?
    -do they need lots of room to move about?

    So far, they are fine but seem to breath very heavily when I leave the light on, it makes me worry about their health.

    Thanks for any input.
  2. cjeanean

    cjeanean Can't Decide

    Mar 5, 2008
    Something I discovered the hard way: meat birds produce A LOT of body heat!!!!! Make sure they have a way to get away from the light if they want to.....I had 30 of them (27 now, 3 died) and when I brought them home as 3 wk olds they were all in the same box. I thought, hmmm, baby chicks, don't want them to get too cold! So I covered the box. Within minutes I heard the whole box explode into chirping then go deathly silent, so I looked in. They were all sitting down with their wings held away from their bodies, and it had to be at least 100 degrees when I put my hand in the box!!!!! I had the light on them for a few days in the brooder, but when I noticed them fanning their wings again I took it off and focused more on keeping them draft free. I'm NOT telling u to take the light away!!!! Just make sure they're not too hot/have a way to get away from the light!!! Good luck!!!!
  3. DottieMarie

    DottieMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2008
    South East MI
    I've seen them lay kind of on their sides looking too warm. I turned the light off today since it will be 80 degrees outside, the room they are in will probably heat up. Thanks for the advice, I've been reading so much about the egg layers and know nothing about the meat birds.

    How about the amount of food they should be getting, should I limit their intake?
  4. rodandbrandy

    rodandbrandy Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 14, 2008
    Some people limit their feed by taking it away at night, I have 20 meat birds 10 of which are ready for slaughter, we did not restrict food until they were about 2 months old, we take away food but not water at night, we really only did it because of the mess they make, what goes in must come out and for some reason to me meat birds smell far worse than layers. All of my birds are doing well, we have not lost one, keep them cool and offer plenty of water, they drink alot!![​IMG]
  5. DottieMarie

    DottieMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2008
    South East MI
    Thank you RobandBrandy and cjeanean; I feel a bit better knowing what to do now.
    Lights off (most of the time)
    Plenty of water
    Not necessary to limit food, at least not at this time.

    Should be all set!
  6. maplesky7

    maplesky7 Flock Mistress

    Jun 14, 2008
    N. IL.
    My understanding was chicks were to be at 90 degrees for the first few weeks and then drop the temp. by 5 degrees every week until it is the same temp. as the outdoors and they have become feathered out.

    I think? is it a foot of space per bird by the time they are feathered out?

    Mine eat continuously--nice little fattys they are. Stinky...but it wouldn't be chicken farmin' if you didn't have some stink, right? I just change the bedding a lot--but it was a lot easier when they were little, now they are 6 wks.--2 wks shy of going "to market" to get "shrink wrapped."

    I didn't know until reading this that some people take their feed away at night! I should try it. I never sweated it if the food was low and I had to wait to morning to get to the granary.

    They ACTED if it was the end of the world...but it wasn't.

  7. UncleHoot

    UncleHoot Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2007
    St. Johns, Michigan
    When they are chicks, I always let mine eat 24x7. However, once they get 3 weeks old and move out of the brooder and into the tractor/pen, they all go to sleep at night. While they're sleeping, they're not eating. However, if you have lights on them continuously, they will be less inclined to sleep, and more inclined to eat all day long.

    So... I try to make sure they always have food. Even so, every morning when I fill up the trough again they all go nuts, as if they've been starving.

    Temps: 90-95 degrees somewhere in the brooder for the first week. It doesn't have to be (and probably shouldn't be) everywhere. If it gets little hotter or a little colder at times, they shouldn't just drop dead. Just keep a thermometer near the heat source as a guide. If they're all huddled up directly under the heat-lamp it's too cold. If no one is near the lamp, and most are laying around with a leg stretched-out, it's too hot. I obsessed over temperatures my first couple batches. But a few mistakes later, I've realized that they're not nearly as fragile as I thought (in that regard).

    Anyway, after the first week, start dropping the temps down a bit. By the end of the second week, they should be able to survive down to 55 degrees, and by the end of the third week, down to 35. So just move the lamp up daily. Since it's summer now, it's probably not going to drop below the 50's in your brooder, even if the light burned out.

    Space: They grow quickly. You can easily fit 50 day-old chicks in a 20 sqft space, but 50 3 week old chicks won't. 1 sqft per chick up to 3 weeks should be more than enough though, though.
  8. DottieMarie

    DottieMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2008
    South East MI
    Wow, great information. I won't be as worried now about the temps, I was thinking they needed more warmth than they really did. I'm sure they appreciate the input as much as I do.
    Thanks again!!
  9. Bucker

    Bucker New Egg

    May 15, 2008
    We put peeps in abig plastic tote for the 1st 10 days, clean it daily keep the feed and a heat lamp to them They will tell you when they are hot or cold. We move them outside and into a tractor. We leave them in light (sun or heat lamp) 24/7. We always keep fresh water to them and only feed 12 on 12 off. Right now i am feeding the 12 at night in the secure portion of the tractor. They are tracking to be 6-7 pound live weight birds in 7 weeks. We have had no problems and we always let them out (supervised ) in the evening. Keeps legs strong (personal feeling). We are fair weather raisers and have not raised any during the cool or cold months so the way we do it would certainly change according to weather.

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