New chicks: What to do once they arrive

Discussion in 'Sponsored Content, Contests, and Giveaways' started by JenniO11, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. JenniO11

    JenniO11 Chirping

    Jan 11, 2012
    Thank you to Purina for providing this sponsored article!


    It’s hatching season across the United States. Chicks will soon travel from hatcheries to new homes, bringing an exciting promise of new flock members, quality lessons and undeniable enjoyment. But, for those of us welcoming new chicks, how can we give them a solid start?

    Gordon Ballam, Ph.D., director of lifestyle innovation & technical service for Purina Animal Nutrition, says to best transition chicks into a flock, provide comfort, care and complete nutrition from day one.

    “A chick never gets over a bad start,” he says. “The actions we take before chicks arrive and the care we provide in the first few days can help set-up our chicks to be happy and healthy long-term.”

    Before they arrive: Set up the brooder.

    “Set up your brooder about 48 hours before your chicks arrive,” Ballam recommends. “This allows time for bedding and equipment to dry and the temperature to set.”

    Equipment for day one includes:

    • Brooder: The brooder is the first home of new chicks. Be sure it is comfortable, warm and draft-free with at least 3 to 4 square feet per chick. The area should be circular and expandable.

    • Heat lamp: Assemble a heat lamp in the center of the brooder for bird warmth. Hang the heat lamp about 20 inches above the litter, with 2.5 to 3 feet between the lamp and the guard walls. The temperature under the heat lamp, or comfort zone, should be 95 degrees Fahrenheit and adequate room in the brooder should be available for the chicks to get out from under the heater if they get too hot. After week one, gradually reduce heat by 5 degrees Fahrenheit each week until reaching a minimum of 55 degrees.
    • Bedding: Add an absorbant wood shavings bedding to the floor of the brooder. Place bedding 3 to 4 inches deep to keep the area dry and odor free. Remove wet bedding daily, especially around waterers. Do not use cedar shavings or other types of shavings that have a strong odor because the odor could affect the long term health of the bird.

    • Lights: Provide 18 – 22 hours of light for the first week. Then reduce light to 16 hours through the growing period or to the amount of light they will receive when they are 20 weeks of age. The amount of light intensity required would be provided by a 40 watt bulb for each 100 square feet (10’ x 10’) of floor space.
    • Feeders: Offer 4 linear inches of feeder space for each bird. Clean egg cartons filled with feed make excellent and easily accessible feeders for young chicks. Provide low-lying feeders, or trough feeders, for after the transition.

    • Waterers: For every 25 chicks, fill two 1-quart waterers with room temperature water and place them in the brooder. To help water stay at room temperature, place the waterers in the brooder, outside the comfort zone (do not position underneath the heat lamp), 24 hours prior to the chicks arrival.

    Introduce chicks to water.

    Once chicks arrive, introduce them to the brooding area. Water, at room temperature, should be available, but wait a couple hours to introduce feed.

    “This gives chicks a couple hours to drink and rehydrate before they start eating,” Ballam says, explaining that fresh, quality water is essential for healthy chicks. “Dip the beaks of several chicks into the water to help them locate it. These chicks will then teach the rest of the group to drink. Monitor the group to ensure all chicks are drinking within the first couple hours.”

    Teach them to eat.

    After chicks have had a chance to rehydrate, provide the nutrients they need through a complete starter feed.

    Provide a feed with at least 18 percent protein to help support the extra energy needed for early growth. The feed should also include amino acids for chick development; prebiotics, probiotics and yeast for immune health; and vitamins and minerals to support bone health.

    “Feeding a complete feed, like Purina[​IMG] Start & Grow[​IMG] Premium Poultry Feed, from the start helps provide the nutrition chicks need as they develop,” Ballam says. “First, teach the chicks to eat by placing feed on clean egg flats, shallow pans or simple squares of paper. On day 2, add proper feeders to the pens. Once chicks have learned to eat from the feeders, remove the papers, pans or egg flats.”


    Adjust feed as chicks develop.

    To keep feed fresh: empty, clean and refill waterers and feeders daily. Also, raise the height of feeders and waterers so they are level with the birds’ backs as chicks grow.

    At age 18 weeks, adjust the feed provided to meet the birds’ evolving nutrition needs.

    “As chicks mature, their nutritional needs change,” Ballam says. “Transition layer chicks onto a higher-calcium complete feed, like Purina[​IMG] Layena[​IMG] Crumbles or Pellets, when they begin laying eggs at age 18 to 20 weeks. For meat birds and mixed flocks, choose a complete feed with 20 percent protein, like Purina[​IMG] Flock Raiser[​IMG] Crumbles and feed this diet from day one through adulthood.”

    To learn more about backyard flock nutrition, visit or like Purina Poultry on Facebook.
    1 person likes this.

  2. XxMingirlxX

    XxMingirlxX Songster

    Dec 12, 2013
    Lancashire, England
    Very informative :)
  3. thegreatwhite

    thegreatwhite Chirping

    Mar 12, 2015
    Douglasville, GA
    Thank you for the article! I purchased the Purina Premium Chick Starter Medicated for my incoming chicks. I was reading through the information on your website regarding this product and it states : "Do not change the litter while giving this feed unless absolutely necessary.".

    Can you expound on that portion of it? I'm new to raising chickens and find that a little confusing.

    What would be considered absolutely necessary? what would be the reason for this? and is normal removal of the chicken waste acceptable?

    Thank you!
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
  4. Hermit

    Hermit In the Brooder

    I wonder if they mean "don't change the *brand* of litter", ie: don't switch from newspaper strips to shavings while they're learning what "food" looks like.
    1 person likes this.
  5. KukuFarmer

    KukuFarmer Hatching

    Mar 26, 2015
    wow.. very educative.
  6. cutechick53

    cutechick53 Songster

    Apr 13, 2013
    This is a great article, super informative! [​IMG] Purina is a great brand.
  7. kasie cochran

    kasie cochran In the Brooder

    Mar 24, 2015
    Very helpfull

  8. gabs1477

    gabs1477 Hatching

    Jan 7, 2015
    St Paul
    Very helpful, getting my chicks next Tuesday!!
  9. MSMoore

    MSMoore In the Brooder

    Mar 28, 2015
    Great information!
  10. Bonji

    Bonji In the Brooder

    Mar 20, 2015
    sunshine coast
    My Coop

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