1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

New guy with a few questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by AU-ChickenGuy, Nov 23, 2016.

  1. AU-ChickenGuy

    AU-ChickenGuy Just Hatched

    11
    0
    14
    Nov 21, 2016
    Andalusia, AL
    I have had my chicks for three nights now and haven't had one die on me yet.....so I'm excited about that. Please see the pics of my setup below. My brooder is 3'x6'. I build it from a design I found on this sight. I have a few questions I'd like to ask of the more knowledgeable among you.

    1. For those of you who use sand in your brooder, what do you use to clean the poop out? I've been using a mesh strainer to sift it out, but it takes a lot of time and requires me to get IN the brooder....and I am NOT a tiny person. Just wondering if there was a better solution.

    2. As you can see from the pics, my chicks are making a mess of their food. The waterer is staying nice and clean, and they haven't knocked it over yet, but the food is EVERYWHERE and it sometimes hard to tell the difference between poop and food when I'm cleaning it out. Should I leave the food on the sand and let them peck at it, or should I clean it up and if so how often? I refill the feeder when it is empty, I just wasn't sure about the food on the ground.

    3. I have only found one chick that appeared to have pasty butt. I examined it and there was some dried poop below the vent, but the vent was not clogged and was "operating?" properly. I used a wet paper towel to wipe it's butt as best I could, but it was stuck on pretty good and I didn't want to do more damage than good. How concerned should I be about this?

    4. I am giving the chicks water with "sav-a-chick" electrolyte from tractor supply. A local man who is affectionately referred to as "Chicken Man" told me I should use it as it would help prevent pasty butt. Another friend I have was skeptical, but so far, so good. The instructions on the packet say to give regular water as well, but Chicken Man didn't mention that. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks for the advice. I am totally new at this. I have always lived out in the country, but never had animals or pets growing up, so all my chicken education will come through reading, talking to people, and trial and error. Your help is appreciated!!![​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2016
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    21,681
    2,618
    466
    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Good for you keeping an eye out for pasted vent. I had 2 chicks die from that several years ago when I couldn't see all the chicks under a big hover brooder.
    The electrolytes won't hurt but I prefer a probiotic in the water that seems to ward off pasted vent. I've been putting one called Gro2Max in chicks first water for the last 3 years and haven't had a case of pasted vent since and that's nearly 100 chicks a year.

    I'm surprised they're able to get that much feed out of that type feeder. You could put a small piece of plywood under the feeder so after they spill it, they can pick it off of that.

    I wouldn't worry about keeping the sand spotlessly clean. I have an acquaintance that raises the chicks on a bed of feed. No feeder, she just raises them on feed as their bedding.

    Keeping the bedding dry is critical.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,526
    2,457
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You're off to a splendid start! Lovely brooder and sweet beginner flock!

    Try fermenting the chick food and serve in tiny containers they can't go swimming in. Chicks want to stand in their food and scratch away at it. I use those tiny plastic cups that come in those refrigerated breakfast sweet rolls and have icing in them. I glue them to something heavy so they don't get knocked over. They would work with dry crumbles, too.

    Go to the Feeding and Watering forum for the thread on fermenting feed. There is very little waste and it produces natural probiotics. The "Save-a-Chick" is fine for the first few days but you don't need it by the end of the first week.

    As for cleaning the brooder, the poops are so small at this stage, you're doing it the best way already. Scoop up the spilled food, it can't be helped.

    You're also handling the pasty butt just fine. Try holding the tiny butt in a cup of warm water to loosen the crust. It does need to be kept clean or more poop accumulates and it can reach the vent and seal it, causing serious consequences. Blow dry the wet chick. They don't mind it in the least.

    Another cause of pasty butt is too much heat. Make sure the chicks are moving freely in and out of the heat zone and not cowering far away from it, indicating they're hot. They need a wide temperature gradient twenty degrees apart to be able to shed excess heat. Most of us have learned chicks like it much cooler than the recommended heat guidelines.

    Keep up the good work! You will have a fine flock!
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    18,278
    5,178
    496
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    Welcome to BYC. Lovely brooder. I see you have 2 heat lamps in there. Where is it placed? Your goal is to provide them with a warm place, and most definitely not to warm the whole brooder. They need the opposite end to be nice and cool, even approaching outside temps. How many chicks? By the time they approach 4 weeks, they will need a minimum of 1 s.f./bird. You can also give them a little perch to play on, and perhaps a log to play on. Think, multi level play gym at the opposite end away from the lamp. You might want to put some hardware cloth hanging down from the flat part of the ceiling between the lamp area and the "gym area" if you do that, b/c chickens are experts at thinking of novel ways to kill themselves, jumping from the monkey bars into the heat lamp would be a great "dare"... Hey, Mikey.... Try this!!!!

    As far as them wasting food, they are just like little kids. If there's a way to make a mess of it, they will. Try putting the food and water in a shallow box, perhaps a pizza box, or something similar, with sides about 2' high. You should also raise both up to the height of their backs. I like to hang my waterer so it can be raised every few days as they grow. This will also keep them from perching on top of it and tipping it over. Oh yeah! Yet an other favorite activity. Mikey loves to dance around on top of the waterer, and play gravity games. See if he can get his poo to splash into the water. An other bit of research for you:

    Fermented feed: gives the chicks a good healthy gut flora, builds their immunity, makes their feed easier to digest, and they don't eat as much, saves on feed bill and their poo does not stink as much. Super easy to do.

    Mother heating pad brooder: Makes heat lamps obsolete. Chicks are much better socialized and feather faster. Can be brooded outside if you have electric available.

    Bring in a plug of sod from your yard (no pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides) with short grass attached. If you don't want to get soil in your sand. you can simply place it in an other short box. It will give them: an inoculation of local beneficial bacteria and fungi, their first greens, perhaps a few little bugs and worms, their first dust bath, a great king of the mountain game, and their first exposure to local pathogens. IMO, this is often overlooked. Yes, they need exposure to the local pathogens. Sooner or later, they will be going outside. Best to get their immunity built up while they are in the first 2 week window when their post hatch immunity is strongest. Much like a human baby who receives immunity from his mother, chicks carry some immunity from their mothers within the first 2 weeks of hatch. Mama broody would have her babies out eating barn yard poop at this age.

    Electrolytes: can be helpful during the first 24 hours, and if they are dealing with stressful situations (summer heat, injury) but not good for long term. If you give it more than a day, offer both plain and electrolyte water. BTW, highly overpriced product when you can make your own out of water, sugar, baking soda, salt, and a bit of Jello for flavoring. Do a google search for recipes.

    Best product to have in your poultry tool kit IMO: Poultry Nutri-Drench. Good for all ages, and gets chicks off to a great start. If you use it, change out the water every day, as it can build bacteria.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

    7,267
    1,574
    356
    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! Your brooder is nice! I would use one heat lamp, offside, so there's a temperature gradient in there. For a new set-up, use a thermometer in there, moving it around to see what the gradient is. Your chicks should be moving around in there, not huddled in one spot all the time. Sand is a mess! Bedding with shavings is much more user friendly; no daily scooping, just add some shavings every few days as needed, and clean out when they move out. Mary
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. AU-ChickenGuy

    AU-ChickenGuy Just Hatched

    11
    0
    14
    Nov 21, 2016
    Andalusia, AL
    Thank you all for the replies. So, I'll start just giving regular water and try the fermented feed. I have two lights on because it's been getting down to 32 here at night. A large area of the brooder is away from the lights and they have been pretty active, not staying in one place or huddling unless I come in and scare them. I noticed last night, they were sleeping in a line against the back wall....like, literally in a line, not huddled together. I'll try just the one light off to the side and see how they react. Can I use the fermented feed in the type of feeder I have now, or would it not work with damp feed?
     
  7. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

    890
    176
    121
    Oct 16, 2015
    Desert Hills, AZ
    Personally I prefer pine shaving bedding such as Ecoflake. It helps dry the poop and keeps the smell down, and plus it's a cinch to clean - just scoop up the old soiled stuff and put down new. Don't worry too much about spilled food because birds don't have any table manners. You'll get this up into adulthood (theirs not ours). Regarding the pasty butt, like azygous said it's more than likely from too much heat, and like Folly's place suggested, just keep one lamp in there so you have a gradient they can move in and out of. Some will prefer more heat than others. The electrolytes are fine but be sure to limit them to just once in a while. Too much can be harmful.

    Anyway, don't worry too much about the small stuff because you're doing all the right things. I think you'll have a nice flock there - enjoy.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,526
    2,457
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Fermented feed is best offered out of an open vessel. The feeder you have will be hard for the chicks to eat the wet FF and you'll have an equally hard time dealing with it.

    This is why I suggest the small cups.

    The risk with FF for chicks is, if too liquidy, they can drown in it. Chicks want to climb into their food and go at it with their busy little feet. So a container with FF must restrict their ability to do this. And they will be covered in the mess, too. Just imagine trying to clean up chicks encrusted in this manner! Make sure the FF is on the dryer side, like thick oatmeal. A spoon should stand up in it.

    After the first couple of weeks, chicks can then efficiently eat from a small cat bowl. I like the heavy ceramic cat bowls for chicks. With as many chicks as you have, I would use two bowls.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. AU-ChickenGuy

    AU-ChickenGuy Just Hatched

    11
    0
    14
    Nov 21, 2016
    Andalusia, AL
    I am currently feeding the medicated chick starter from the Co-op.  Would I be correct to assume that for the fermented feed, I should use non-medicated chick feed?
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2016
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    18,278
    5,178
    496
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    Your choice re: medicated feed or not. The medication is usually Amprolium, which is a Thiamine blocker. The cocci need Thiamine for reproduction, so without it, it limits their population. Cocci is a natural gut flora, one of the bad guys, and the good guys keep it in check. That's why many of us use FF, and why I strongly advocate exposing your birds to the natural soil during their first 2 weeks. It allows them to get a gut full of the good guys. I've never used medicated feed, and have never had issue with coccidiosis. I'm under the assumption that if the Amprolium blocks Thiamine in the cocci, it may very well do so in the chick. I'm sure there is a lot of argument regarding that, as there is re: a lot of poultry care. I simply recommend that you research each topic, and choose your own path after reading the literature. No matter what you do, you'll most likelyhave folks who agree, and those who disagree. Short answer, I think you can ferment medicated feed.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by