My First Flock - Q's n A's?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by bronwynrayne, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. bronwynrayne

    bronwynrayne New Egg

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    Hello all!

    Today my husband and I brought home 5 chicks; 2 Amerecaunas, a Barred Rock, a Silver Wyandotte, and a Russian Orloff (husband's pick haha).
    We live in mild Oregon, with our nighttime lows hitting around 40, daytime highs in the mid 50's.

    Here is our set up:
    Large Rubbermaid tote
    Fresh pine shavings over a layer of paper towels
    Clamp light with 100W heat lamp bulb, the kind for reptiles
    Sock filled with rice for snuggling and roost practice
    Food and water dispensers

    They all seem quite happy, though the Russian Orloff is rather smaller than the rest and gets shoved out of the way for food, so I have been hand feeding her and mixing her starter feed with some hardboiled egg to encourage feeding. I have set the heat lamp at the correct height I believe, as they are not huddled, but are comfortably around the heated side of the brooder.

    The largest chick, which I believe is the Barred Rock, seems to be panting at times though none of the other chicks are, and it could be labored breathing instead. I am worried about her a bit, but I am hoping for the best.

    I want these babies to have the best chances at success, so here are my questions:

    Q1: Should I invest in grit for the chicks, as I do plan on feeding them hardboiled egg frequently?

    Q2: Have you found great success with probiotics with your chicks?

    Q3: Could Nutri-Drench be beneficial regardless of status of the chicks? Would you suggest that I supplement with it?

    Q4: As these are all cold hardy birds, at what point should I feel comfortable moving my flock into my coop, provided that it is draftless and possibly heated?

    Thank you for your replies, this forum has been of great help to my constant anxious stream of questions.
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Q1: Should I invest in grit for the chicks, as I do plan on feeding them hardboiled egg frequently?

    Grit not necessary for eggs, though, IMO all chicks should have grit in the first week, and continue to have access to it. If you have normal soil, you can give them a plug of sod from your untreated lawn. This will accomplish so many things for their benefit: first grit, minerals, first greens, some seeds and insects, perhaps some worms, first dust bath, a gut load of beneficial bacteria and fungi to build their immune and digestive systems. Infinite play opportunities. I give them a sod about the size of a pie plate.

    Q2: Have you found great success with probiotics with your chicks?

    When I started my first group of chicks, I did buy probiotics. Since then, I have been giving them the sod and using fermented feed, both of which are loaded with probiotics.

    Q3: Could Nutri-Drench be beneficial regardless of status of the chicks? Would you suggest that I supplement with it?

    Absolutely. Every chick that I raise gets PND, including the ones that I hatch.

    Q4: As these are all cold hardy birds, at what point should I feel comfortable moving my flock into my coop, provided that it is draftless and possibly heated?

    As soon as you see them eating and drinking well, using their heat source appropriately. The more room you can give them, the better: Ideally, 1 s.f.of open space /chick for the first week. By the time they are 2 weeks old, they should have 2 s.f./chick to foster their development. They will be bombing all over the place with their new flight feathers if they have the room to do so.

    I'm concerned about your panting chick. This makes me wonder if: it is over heated. Since it is the largest, that's possible. Or, your brooder is too warm. Use a thermometer to check the heat level under the light, and compare it to the opposite end of the brooder. While the recommendation is for 90 - 95 under heat first week, many of us have found that chicks thrive if it is a bit cooler once they are settled in. Or, your brooder is too small, not providing for a 20* temp drop between the heat source and the cool end of the brooder. It's super important that they have a COOL zone. Not at all healthy to keep them at a steady warm temp. Bottom line: a panting chick is either over heated, stressed, or sick.

    Further considerations: Have you looked at using a heating pad to provide a much more natural, and safer brooding experience for both you and your chicks? The HP takes so much of the work out of keeping the heat just right, prevents overheating the chicks, allows them to self regulate, so they feather out faster, adjust to outside temps faster, have natural day/night cycles, seem to be happier and better socially adjusted, both to each other and to people. HP brooded chicks sing themselves to sleep at night, while I've never seen a heat lamp chick do so. Does your heat lamp emit light?

    Fermented feed: Provides infinite benefit.

    There are links to FF FAQ and heating pad brooding in my signature line. Enjoy your babies.
     
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  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Q1: Should I invest in grit for the chicks, as I do plan on feeding them hardboiled egg frequently?

    If all you feed them is processed chicken feed and the hard-boiled egg, they do not NEED grit. That assumes the feed is either in crumble or mash form. If so, it has already been ground up. I personally like having grit in their system just in case they eat something else, even accidentally, but you don’t absolutely have to feed them grit if that is all they are eating.

    Q2: Have you found great success with probiotics with your chicks?

    I’ve never used probiotics with my chicks. Well, sort of I have, but not the way you are talking about. There are different kinds of probiotics. As long as they are given in the correct dosage they will not harm your chicks and in some cases, such as weak or stressed chicks, they can help.

    Instead of buying commercial probiotics I feed dirt from my run where the adult chickens are, starting on the second day my chicks are in the brooder. My brooder is in the coop so my brooder raised chicks are raised with the flock and exposed to anything they have that floats through the air. By feeding dirt from the run my chicks get any probiotics that come out of the adults’ rear ends, they start working on flock immunities immediately, and they get grit. The chicks that are raised by my broody hens are exposed to dirt the adults have been pooping in and the rest of the flock right from the start. So, in that method, I guess I do give them probiotics.

    Q3: Could Nutri-Drench be beneficial regardless of status of the chicks? Would you suggest that I supplement with it?

    I suggest you do, just follow correct dosage. It sounds like you might have a weak chick that could benefit from them and it sounds like you don’t have adults so you can’t feed them dirt the adults have been pooping in. Another part is, reading between the lines, I think you want to. It will make you feel better if you are doing all you can to help them. There is value in making you feel better. You are an important part of this process. But with a weak chick, I’d do it anyway.

    Q4: As these are all cold hardy birds, at what point should I feel comfortable moving my flock into my coop, provided that it is draftless and possibly heated?

    My brooder is in the coop. Chicks go into my brooder straight out of the incubator or from the post office, even if the outside temperatures are below freezing. I keep one are warm enough in the coldest temperatures and cool enough in the warmest temperatures. The chicks are great about self-regulating themselves as long as they have a choice. The biggest problem I have brooding outside is temperature swings. One morning earlier this year I have a morning low of 18F. Two days later the afternoon high was the mirror image, 81F. My brooder is well-ventilated but has excellent breeze protection. My chicks were fine, it’s the temperatures inside the brooder that matters to the chicks, not outside temperatures.

    I personally use heat lamps in a 3’ x 6’ brooder. In winter it’s wrapped up pretty tightly with 0.3 mil plastic, in summer it’s pretty wide open. I don’t know what your coop looks like, but if you can provide the right conditions in the coldest and hottest weather yours can go out today. You can probably use your coop as the brooder as long as you can lock them in the coop section and keep them out of the run for a while. There are a lot of different ways to provide a warm spot in your brooder. Just because I use heat lamps doesn’t mean I think you are wrong to use something different. There are a lot of different ways to provide a warm spot. LG mentioned one great system.

    A warning with heat lamps, whether you use them in your house or outside. Throw away that clamp so you are not even tempted to use it. Wire your heat lamp in place so there is absolutely no way you, anyone else, pet dogs or cats, or the chicks can knock it down. You really don’t want a fire, whether in your house or outside. Use wire, not string that can burn or melt.

    When can they go outside in those temperatures? Most chicks are fully feathered out in 4 weeks, sometimes 5. Some things other than heredity that affect that are what you feed them. If you feed them a chick starter, say 20% protein content, they feather out faster than if you feed a lower percent protein feed or mix in a lot of low protein treats to bring the average down. If they are exposed to colder temperatures, either being raised in an outside brooder that is allowed to cool off at some places or taking them outside for excursions in cooler weather, they will feather out faster. It will also help them acclimatize. It’s rough going straight from a subtropical climate to a cold region if you don’t get an adjustment period.

    I feed mine a 20% starter feed, they are exposed to cooler temperatures in my outside brooder, and my grow-out coop has excellent ventilation up high but great breeze control down where they are. It stays dry, rain cannot get in. I regularly move my chicks from the brooder to that grow-out coop at 5 weeks of age in temperatures below what you are talking about. Overnight lows in the mid 20’s F does not concern me.
     
  4. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    Start feeding them grit after they are one week old . the grit will help them grow a larger, healthier gizzard . this can mean up to 20% more eggs per pullet when they start to lay. look online for: gran-i-grit PDF . on the second page of that brochure is a feeding schedule for grit which tells you which grit to give at which age. it is important to get the right size grit at the right age. this helps their gizzard grow in the best way. there is definitely a science to feeding Grit and Gran-i-grit has been making poultry grit since 1935. I get my grit at Agway.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
  5. bronwynrayne

    bronwynrayne New Egg

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    Thank you for your response! I had never heard of using sod in a brooder before, but that is totally doable here and I am going to get on it this afternoon. How neat!
    We are doing this rather cheeply (hehe [​IMG]) so I do not have a thermometer for measuring air temperatures. Could a meat thermometer work? I will check at Goodwill.

    I took the panting chicky out this morning and put her in bed with my husband. He is currently brooding her under his chest while he watches movies on his phone, and she is not panting any longer so I think she is too hot, though she could just be stressed out. She is very social with the other birds and eats and drinks healthily and happily. If we could afford one, I would get a heating pad, but we are doing this the old fashioned way. Yes, my heat lamp gives off red light.

    I have included some photos of my brooder, just for informational purposes.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    I strongly suggest that you get a larger brooder. That can be done cheaply by using a cardboard box. The issue with such a small brooder is that the entire area is so warm that there is no perceivable temperature gradient, so the chicks have no idea which is the "cooler end". That brooder is too small to allow such a gradient. She may be the only one reacting, but you can consider her to be the canary in the coal mine. If she was over heated, the others are also. Wings spread? or are they held tight to their body? Are they laying down a lot, or up and running around a lot? Any time you see spread wings, unless they are sun bathing or dust bathing, the bird may be too warm. Panting is getting towards crisis mode with chicks.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Those chicks are under the light instead of as far away as they can get so they are probably not too hot. The chicks are your best thermometer, their actions will tell you how they are doing. I don’t use a thermometer in the brooder, I just watch the chicks.

    I agree a larger brooder is certainly better, but maybe you can get a temperature variation across the brooder by moving the lamp so it is closer to an end or even to the point that only part of the heat is going in. Larger brooders are just so much easier to work with, even indoors. But from the position of those chicks, I don’t think they are too hot. I think it is a different issue with that chick.
     
  8. bronwynrayne

    bronwynrayne New Egg

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    So as of today they are all in great health, no more panting from the largest one (she got special cuddle time while I went to get electrolytes this afternoon and seems to be feeling better now).

    I did get a piece of turf out of the lawn for them and they are very curious about it! At this point I am considering making a bit of a duplex, adding another Rubbermaid to the side attached by a door when they get a little bigger so that I can isolate the heat better. I put on some classical music when we went out this afternoon and came home to all five sleeping, comfortably arranged around the heat lamp.

    I am a happy momma!
     
  9. bronwynrayne

    bronwynrayne New Egg

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    Amendments I have made are the addition of turf, which they adore and seem very interested in, addition of electrolytes/probiotics, and starting to ferment my feed for my babies.

    I have one more question though:

    Q5: The Russian Orloff chick that we have is very small compared to her sisters. Is it normal to have one runty chick? Is there anything I can do to help her grow?

    Thank you all so much.

    B
     

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