Please Help a Rookie Chick mama, kind of long, but worried.....

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by juliemom25, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. juliemom25

    juliemom25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 4, 2009

    Could you all please answer some questions for me?

    First a little history.....

    Our baby chicks are almost 2 weeks old. We have 21 Cornish Rocks and 29 various brown egg layers. We have never raised chicks before so we are complete rookies. I researched the chicks quite a bit before they came so I feel like we prepared ourselves as much as we could. All the chicks survived the delivery and they all took to drinking and eating pretty quickly.

    We have a large brooder box (the recommended 1/2 sq. foot per chick for all 50 chicks), however, I moved the Cornish over to their own brooder box (the same size) a few days ago. They are just twice the size of our layers and I was worried the smaller ones would get trampled. We have a heat lamp in each box and the heat right under the lamp stays at about 95 to 100. The chicks seem to be happy with that. The don't huddle just under the lamp like they are too cold or anything. We are keeping all the chicks in the garage with a heather that clicks on if the garage temperature gets below 55 degrees. The chicks have full access to food and fresh water at all times (I change the water daily, if not twice daily). They are on a recommended chick started from our local Tractor Supply.

    Today I noticed that our Cornish chicks are sneezing a lot. They also seem to be breathing a bit fast. Their poop seems a bit runny also. They have no discharge from their nose/eyes and they seem to be eating and drinking like normal. The poop is not bloody or watery and I checked out some on-line chick poop pictures and even though it is runny, it still seems to fall within a range of normal. The breathing heavy just might be how they breath. They do not sound raspy or rattly. They are quite fat, I would breath heavy also if I were them. The sneezing though has me stumped. I haven't laid any new bedding in the last couple days, so I don't think they'd be sneezing because of dust or anything. Should I be worried?

    I you don't mind, here are some other questions

    1. How often should I change the chick bedding?

    2. We had the chicks vaccinated for Merek's before we got them, but I bought medicated feed for coccidiosis. When can I start them on that? How long should they be on that feed to consider the chicks safe? Should we even bother with the medicated feed for our Cornish chicks?

    3. What diseases would you recommend us taking preventative measures for?
    Should we monthly treat for lice/mites/parasites?

    4. They chicks will move to a coop when they are bigger and the coop we are using is a very old chicken coop. We actually found some old US POULTRY ASSOC. certificates on the wall from 1947. We love fixing this old coop up for our chicks again, but is there anything we should worry about with the coop when it comes to sanitation issues? How do we sanitize it? I am sure it has not be used for chickens in at least 50 years.

    Thank you so much in advance. I want our chicks to be healthy and I want to being doing all I can to facilitate their health!

  2. tamlynn

    tamlynn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2008
    Torrance, CA
    I'll take a shot at one of your questions. Is the medicated feed chick starter? they should have that as their first food. I didn't even know you could get chick starter that wasn't medicated.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2009
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    The 95-100 is recommended for the first week, then drop it 5 degrees per week. I found this was too warm for mine, as many others have. Judge what they need by their behavior.

    I have never had Cornish X. I feed medicated feed from day one, but I do not have them vaccinated for cocci. Sounds like you feel you need to withhold med feed because of the Marek's vaccine. That is not the case; the Marek's vaccine has nothing to do with the med feed, though the cocci vaccine does. Some people prefer not to give med feed to Cornish X, and some do. Personal choice.

    I think there are about as many different ways to manage bedding as there are chicken owners. After a few days on paper towels, I did not change my bedding in the brooder, just added pine shavings, then put them in the coop at 3 weeks.

    For mites, etc., food grade DE and organic apple cider vinegar are used by many (including me) as preventive care. I don't think there is concrete proof that they work, but they do seem to be harmless. I would not actually treat unless I knew the parasite was present, esp. for worms, as these treatments can be rough on the birds. So far I have not had to do this, except some pyrethrum dust when I felt mites were present. (It felt like fleas were jumping on me; I never saw problems on the chickens; the flea thing stopped when I used a pyrethrum dust on them. Did this once in over a year.) I sprinkle some DE around the coop and onto their feed, and dust them with it every couple of months or so. Mine free range so are exposed to wild bird mites. If you use DE, be sure it is food grade, probably have to get it online, and wear a mask when handling it to protect your lungs.

    I would love to have a 50+ year old coop. Don't imagine that it needs to be sanitized; what could live in it that long?

    I have no idea what to tell you about the Cornish X sneezing. I do know there are some nasty respiratory diseases that chickens can get, but the symptoms include a lot more than sneezing. Most beddings raise a lot of dust. I do hope they are just sneezing from dust?!

    Good luck, and do enjoy your chickens!
  4. bubbazmommy

    bubbazmommy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 8, 2008
    Albany, ME
    I have read that meat birds should get food for 12 hours a day and then take it away for 12. Maybe they are growing to fast?? Just a shot.
  5. juliemom25

    juliemom25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 4, 2009
    THanks guys for your replies!

    No, the chick started is not medicated, but I do have medicated chick starter. I have just read on line that baby chicks shouldn't get the medicated chick starter until like 3 weeks, but it sounds like it is ok to go ahead and start it now?

    I do plan to start taking the feed away from my Cornish X's tonight. They seriously fly through food. Is it normal for them to go through 4 mason jars of water a day? Could that be why their poo is so runny?

    Any other advice?


  6. damselfish

    damselfish Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2008
    Southwest Missouri
    Ok, I'll jump in too!

    Chick starter has medication in it for coccidiosis. As mentioned above, you can get medicated or unmedicated starter.

    If you had the chicks vaccinated for cocci, you don't need it at all. If you didn't vac, then some choose to use it and some do not. Generally it is used immediately, but I'd go ahead and feed it to the non-meat chickens now since you have it. I don't see alot of reason to feed it to the meat chickens, but others may chime in with better advice on that.

    In general, I would not treat for mites, lice or parasites unless you see symptoms. Plenty of threads on here about that, you'll have time to read them before your regular chickens go out into the world.

    I'd probably clean the old coop with light bleach water and scrape it down well, more on general principles than because I think there are 50-year old chicken diseases in there. Again, others may have better advice.

    Oh, and the water, 4 mason jars is very little for 20+ birds, I think. You're going to need a big waterer soon, might as well go on out and get two galvanized double-wall waterers (one for each brooder). You can use one for a coop and one for an outside waterer later. Chickens need a lot of water.

    Bedding, pine (not cedar) shavings, very thick, stir daily, change when stinky. Get from horse supply place, not pet store where they will be insanely expensive.

    Dang, I'm long-winded. [​IMG]

    Edited: Because I couldn't read where the OP said very clearly how many of each kind of chicken she has...
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2009

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