Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Kyle241, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. Kyle241

    Kyle241 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have been reviewing posts a fair bit now as our chicks are scheduled to arrive on June 15th. I have several questions that I have seen answers to but then see other opinions/answers and then get a little confused. I know everyone has their own opinion, just looking for 'best practice' for raising healthy chicks. We are getting 4 PR's and 2 RIR's.

    1) My local feed store that purchase the chicks for us does not have medicated feed, instead he stated to use regular chick feed and put medication in the water if/when needed. Is this good advice or should we seek out medicated feed?

    2) We have not been told our chicks have been vaccinated for anything but will ask today. If one is to do their own vaccinations, how are they done? Via syringe, via food, via water? What is the minimum they should be vaccinated for? Mareks?

    3) We have noticed that people raise their water and feed bowls for chicks sometimes using a piece of wood, etc. Does this make the feeder harder for the chicks to fall into (especially water in case they drown) or is because they can feed better at that level?

    4) We plan on having wood shavings in the brooder, I know cedar is a no no, what are the acceptable types, pine? We have also seen people (and read) that putting paper towels down the first day over the shavings is a good idea, yes/no?

    5) We initially purchase a 250w heat lamp but then read on here that they may be too hot and they can be a fire hazard. So we returned it and bought a 85w red spotlight and plan on measuring the temperature with it today. I know we need to keep it at 95-100 degrees for the first little bit and then I believe each week drop it be 5 degrees?

    6) The heat lamp should be on 24x7, correct? We know the signs of chicks 'too cold' or 'too hot' so I think we should be able to identify if this happens.

    7) We are going sand in our run, 8x40 and were planning on putting sand in our coop on top of linoleum flooring. All we need then is a kitty litter type scoop I believe to keep clean? And yes under the roosts we will place some easy to clean surface as well.

    8) How many nesting boxes for 6 hens (hopefully hens)?

    9) We are in Eastern Ontario so our winters are cold and snowy. The coop has an extended roof of about 5' so that the hens will be able to get out during the winter months. Do you Northerners dig out the snow from your runs? Also we are planning R20 in the roof and R16 in the walls with a caged oil heater (saw that on here in someone's post and thought it was a great idea), that should be efficient to keep them warm enough during the winter months?

    10) Does one need to keep hens and duck separate in a coop? My guess is yes but just asking as we would like to add ducks in the future.


    Thanks in advance everyone!
     
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    1. I suppose you could do it that way. I've never heard of a feed store not carrying medicated chick starter. Maybe check another feed store?
    2. I do not vaccinate mine, so can't help you there.
    3. The waterers and feeders are raised to shoulder level when the chicks are big enough to keep the shavings from being kicked in the dishes.
    4. Paper towels help the chicks find real food, instead of trying to eat the shavings. I have raised chicks on paper towels and directly on the shavings, both with success. Paper towels do make cleaning up the mess easier for the first few days though.
    5. Depends where you are brooding. If in the house, 250 watts will be too hot. No matter what wattage, make sure you double secure the lamp. 95-100 will be too hot for the chicks. Aim for 85-90, just watch the chicks - if they are piled up peeping loudly, they are too cold. If they are cruising around and sleeping close, they are perfect. If they are spread out, wings out from their body and panting, they are too hot.
    6. Yes, 24/7 for the first few weeks, then you may or may not be able to turn it off during the day, depending on the temps in your area and where you are brooding.
    7. I put shavings on top of linoleum in the coop. I don't know how sand in the coop would work out. In the run it would be fine.
    8. 2 nesting boxes will be fine for 6 hens.
    9. Chickens are fine dealing with cold as long as there are no drafts. Insulation would be a good idea, but lots of people raise chickens in winter without heat. I have some chickens that will tromp through the snow and some that won't. If you want to keep the run clear of snow, you could always put a tarp on the side of the run to block most of it.
    10. I don't raise ducks. I think that's a personal preference on how often you want to clean the coop. Ducks are messy with their water, and chickens don't do well in moist conditions.

    And finally [​IMG]
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Quote:
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    You'll get different opinions because a lot of different things work. And we all have different goals and conditons.

    1) My local feed store that purchase the chicks for us does not have medicated feed, instead he stated to use regular chick feed and put medication in the water if/when needed. Is this good advice or should we seek out medicated feed?

    This question is worth a book. The basic story is that the medicated feed is to prevent an outbreak of Coccidiosis. If your chicks have not been exposed to the Cocci causing protozoa, it is a waste. It will not harm them, it just won't do them any good. Most times if Cocci is present, a reasonably dry brooder controls it. I go out of my way to introduce the Cocci protozoa I have while they are young enough to easily develop the immunity they need and I do not feed medicated feed. I think to treat if you have a problem is great advice, unless you have a history of a Cocci problem. Then medicated feed is a good idea.

    2) We have not been told our chicks have been vaccinated for anything but will ask today. If one is to do their own vaccinations, how are they done? Via syringe, via food, via water? What is the minimum they should be vaccinated for? Mareks?

    Again, this could be a book. I spoke to my county extension agent, in the phone book under county government, who put me in touch with a local expert on chicken diseases. I found out that the last reported case of Marek's in my county was two years previous. We discussed how I planned to manage my chickens, which I think is important. I keep a closed flock, not taking them to shows or introducing other chickens except through eggs I hatch or chicks from a nationally known hatchery. I did not vaccinate for anything. The correct answer might be different for you.

    3) We have noticed that people raise their water and feed bowls for chicks sometimes using a piece of wood, etc. Does this make the feeder harder for the chicks to fall into (especially water in case they drown) or is because they can feed better at that level?

    Chicks and chickens scratch a lot. If the feeder or water is at ground level, they scratch a lot of stuff in it. If it is at the height of the shortest one's back, they scratch a lot less trash in it. They seem to waste a little less feed too.

    4) We plan on having wood shavings in the brooder, I know cedar is a no no, what are the acceptable types, pine? We have also seen people (and read) that putting paper towels down the first day over the shavings is a good idea, yes/no?

    Pine or aspen are the normal types, but many are not labeled. Basically any that you get that are not cedar should be OK. The purpose of the paper towels for a few days is that the chicks do not have a mother to show them what is good to eat. The paper towels keep them from eating a lot of small pieces of wood shavings until they get in the habit of eating their real food. Chicks can get impacted crops or impacted gizzards from eating too many wood shavings, especially the larger ones. These do not happen often so don't stress out over it, but it is a possibility.

    The paper towels help with both. I also recommend that you offer them chick grit when you remove the paper towels. It will not affect the impacted crop problem, but it will help prevent the impacted gizzard. As you probably know, chickens do not have teeth so they use grit in their gizzard to grind their food. If all they eat is prepared chick or chicken feed, grit is not necessary, but if they eat anything they need to grind, like grain, grass or a hard-shelled bug, they need grit. You can buy grit in the pet stores, but be careful with it. Some parakeet grit has added calcium which is not good for growing chicks if there is too much. Read the label. Coarse construction sand works well. That play sand is too fine and smooth to do any real good. I gather sand and tiny pebbles from my gravel drive or just get some sandy dirt from the run and put it in a small yogurt cup attached to the side of the brooder. Don't give them enough that they can stuff themselves on it, and offer it on the side, not mixed with their food.

    5) We initially purchase a 250w heat lamp but then read on here that they may be too hot and they can be a fire hazard. So we returned it and bought a 85w red spotlight and plan on measuring the temperature with it today. I know we need to keep it at 95-100 degrees for the first little bit and then I believe each week drop it be 5 degrees?

    The normal recommendation is to have the brooder in the range of 90 to 95 the first week, then drop it by 5 degrees a week until they are fully feathered out, which is usually around 4 to 5 weeks of age. I'd go crazy if I tried to do it like that. I have my brooder in the coop from Day 1. I have a fairly large brooder with a good draft guard but lots of ventilation up higher. I keep one area of the brooder at the recommended temperature, often actually a bit above after the first week. But I let the far corners of the brooder cool down as much as they will, often 20 to 30 degrees cooler in the spring, but not as much now purely because it does not get that cool. I let the chicks find their own comfort zone. Somewhere in that brooder is the perfect temperature for them. I don't have to worry about it. Let them do some work for a change.

    6) The heat lamp should be on 24x7, correct? We know the signs of chicks 'too cold' or 'too hot' so I think we should be able to identify if this happens.

    Yes, they need the heat 24/7.

    7) We are going sand in our run, 8x40 and were planning on putting sand in our coop on top of linoleum flooring. All we need then is a kitty litter type scoop I believe to keep clean? And yes under the roosts we will place some easy to clean surface as well.

    8) How many nesting boxes for 6 hens (hopefully hens)?

    The rule of thumb on this site is one for every 4 hens. You will find that they will mostly use the same one no matter how many you have, but two is enough for six hens. Think down the road though. Are you ever going to have more, say when you bring in replacements when these really cut back on laying. Are you going to let a broody hatch in your coop? Two is enough for six hens.


    9) We are in Eastern Ontario so our winters are cold and snowy. The coop has an extended roof of about 5' so that the hens will be able to get out during the winter months. Do you Northerners dig out the snow from your runs? Also we are planning R20 in the roof and R16 in the walls with a caged oil heater (saw that on here in someone's post and thought it was a great idea), that should be efficient to keep them warm enough during the winter months?

    You might want to read these articles. This lady in Ontario knows what she is talking about.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    Pat’s
    Cold Coop (winter design) page:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    Pat’s
    Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-fix-a-muddy-run

    10)
    Does one need to keep hens and duck separate in a coop? My guess is yes but just asking as we would like to add ducks in the future.

    Don't know. I don't do ducks.
     

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