New to chicks - age differences and heat needs/food questions!! Thanks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by simpleliving, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. simpleliving

    simpleliving Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 12, 2009
    Hi everyone-

    I am completely new to this whole chickie thing and really nervous about raising chicks. I am only allowed 4 in my neighborhood and have two that I got this past Saturday (a 2 1/2 week old Welsummer and a 1 1/2 week old Buff Orp). I am picking up two more today or tomorrow - very young ones so that is what has me worried - they will be the typical 2-3 day olds (one Speckled Sussex and one Light Brahma). My biggest concern right now is how to do the heat - I have a 250 watt Red Heat Lamp right now that is about 3 feet away from the chicks on one side of my brooder (which is an wire rabbit cage with plastic deep dish bottom - only about 4 feet L by 2 1/2 feet wide and maybe 3 ft high) - it is right around 80 - 85 under there right now and I think my older two are ok with that although I am not always sure. I want them together so they all get along so would rather not have separate brooders. They sleep under it at night but tend to go to the other side during the day (when I see them in the morning and after work) but they walk around all over and don't seem too bothered. They were panting the first day when I had it lower so I moved it up. My Welsummer has been picking at the BO's tail feather though so I was wondering if that is because she is too warm or what. Anyway, I know the younger chicks will most likely need it warmer again so do I just lower it and hope the older two stay away from it but what about at night - will they be too cool away from it? I have the brooder next to our gas fireplace and have been keeping it at around 68-70 all day and night. And how long do I need to keep the younger two at a warmer temp - can I move it up every couple of days until it is comfortable for all of them. I feel like I am really overthinking this, but I want to make sure I take care of them best I can. And when can I comfortably move them to a coop (which is not built yet but we are working on it and hoping it will be done within the next 4 weeks).

    Ok, another question - regarding feed. I have them on organic chick feed and they are eating it what seems to be a lot, but it seems so dry and unappetizing. Is there anything else I can feed them at this age (and for the younger two when I get them)? I have been giving bits of yogurt to the two I have every day - and just a very little bit, but they love it! When I was cutting up carrots and celery last night, I thought they might love the celery tops and shredded bits of carrot, but then realized I didn't know if that was ok or if they needed grit for that or what. I also put ACV, garlic and a bit of sugar in their water - not sure how they like that but they are drinking it. So far no health problems that I can tell, but they do seem a little light to me although I have no idea how heavy they are supposed to feel as this is my first time even holding a chicken!

    Thanks everyone!

  2. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    [​IMG] I would put the light to one side or end of the brooder so that the older chicks can get away from the heat course as they feather out. You can try to put the chicks together and see what happens but be prepared to move them if the older chicks get too aggressive with the younger ones. The younger chicks should have the temp around 90/95 degrees the first week decreasing it 5 degrees per week.

    A chicken's food goes, as is, into the crop, where it is slowly funneled into a very small " stomach" for some digestive additives--then to the Gizzard, where it is 'chewed', that is, ground into material that can be digested as it moves into the intestines and so on. The Gizzard is best able to break down whole grains and other chunky bits that they eat when full of grit. Longest lasting grit is Granite, that lasts well. All other rock and stone is so much softer, that it wears down fast and that is why granite grit is best choice, works really well for best utilization of feeds. My baby chicks are given free choice and they choose it with pleasure, baby grit is fine Granite, as soon as they are given anything besides Starter Crumbles. Their tiny gizzards are at optimum function at an early age. I feed my chicks Medicated Starter/Grower feed until they start to lay then I switch over to layer feed. If I have any Starter/Grower feed left over I mix it in with the layer feed.

    I give mine almost everything. Here is the link to BYC Chicken Treat Chart.

    Here is a great reference book, Gail Damerow's 'Storey's Guide to Chickens' is an excellent guide, as well as this web site. This site is an excellent source of information.

    Also here are some other good sites and info.
    Henderson's Chicken Breed Chart
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2009
  3. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
  4. melissastraka

    melissastraka Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 26, 2009
    Hoquiam, WA
    OK , I will do my best to answer as many questions as i know. Make sure you check the links that JeensPeeps and cmom provided for you too!
    As for heat, day olds should have it somewhere between 90-95 and then decrease 5 degrees every week after. Since you have older chickens also I would start where you are at when you get the newbies. If it is too cold they will peep loudly and continue if they are cold. I have different ages also and i find that the older ones do fine. I like my red light but some like white.
    The panting means that it is to warm so you did the right thing by raising the light.
    As for the pecking of the feathers, i am not sure. Some say it means they need calcium but for little chicks it could just be establishing the pecking order or just plain playing. Keep an eye out for something more. If you see a significant loss of feathers or blood take the culprit out or I put in a piece of cardboard to separate it from the others. Sometimes they just need a time out for a couple of days.
    When you move them to their new coop make sure they are fully feathered or you have some sort of heat lamp in there for them. Depending on where you live it could still be to cold for their bodies.

    I know that yogurt is ok for little ones but if you do feed them anything else they will need a sort of grit as JeensPeeps said. I dont usually give them any treats till they are about 6 weeks.

    I dont give my babies anything in their water until they start laying then i add AVC to it. When i separate the roos from the hens i also quit giving the AVC to my roos and only my hens. I havent tried garlic before, someone else should be able to tell you that.

    Otherwise, just have fun with your new babies! You will be great at it and it is so rewarding in the end!!!!

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