Questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by HildaHen, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. HildaHen

    HildaHen New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    May 19, 2014
    West Australia
    Hi all,
    I just have a few questions if you have the time?
    Firstly, one of my girls went broody so I gave her 6 fertilised eggs, 4 of which hatched. They were born on 20 Dec so that makes them nearly 4 weeks old. They are in a separate part of the run with mum and doing great. :)
    So, my questions are:

    1. When is the best age for the Mum and chicks to go back with in the rest of the girls (6 others)? Is it best to put them together while she is still mothering them so she can offer some protection?

    2. At the moment the mother and the chicks are having chick crumble, fermented wheat and a few scraps while the other girls are having a mix of super poultry mix/layer crumble, fermented wheat and plenty of green scraps (which they LOVE). I have read that if a laying bird eats chick crumble (as it's medicated) you have to discard the eggs... So, my question is (stupid or not) how can I make sure they eat what they are supposed to including us having the eggs?

    3. Keeping in mind the above.... If I gave them grower crumble earlier than the 8 weeks would it hurt them and would be cause an issue with the eggs?

    Thanks everyone for your time.
     
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    36,684
    4,692
    566
    Feb 18, 2011
    Ohio
    As long as there is plenty of room in the main pen/coop, you might just open the door to the pen the broody is in and let them interact with the flock, (supervised the first few times). The broody will probably just keep going back to the small pen with the chicks for a few more weeks, then eventually just move everybody to the main coop when she wants to roost. I usually keep my broodys separated for a week or two and then let them and the chicks out with the main flock and let them decide when to move permanently.

    The easiest thing to do with mixed age flocks is usually to feed some sort of All-Ages or Flock Raiser type food to everybody, and have oyster shell on the side for the ones who need it... you can also just feed chick starter though it is usually a little more expensive because of the higher protein. Do you know what the chick feed is medicated with? Most people don't do a withdrawal period with Amprolium for eggs since it is a thiamine blocker not an antibiotic. Other ones usually have 2 or more weeks suggested.
     
  3. HildaHen

    HildaHen New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    May 19, 2014
    West Australia
    Thank you so much for your reply! No, I'm not sure what it is medicated with but something that protects against Coccidiosis I do know (I no longer have the bag).
    Considering they are only 4 weeks I might keep them separate for another two weeks by then they will be moving onto grower crumble and remove the layer feed until they are all at the same age and see how I go.
    This chicken business is hard! lol
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    19,959
    3,125
    476
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I’ll assume you have sufficient room to add those chicks to your flock. If not, you are going to have problems no matter what you do.

    1. When is the best age for the Mum and chicks to go back with in the rest of the girls (6 others)? Is it best to put them together while she is still mothering them so she can offer some protection?

    In my opinion, the best time is when Mama brings them off the nest but you are past that point. Some broody hens stop protecting the chicks by 4 weeks, some will continue for another month or even two. If Mama is still protecting her chicks she will handle integration for you. The chicks will still have to handle their own pecking order issues, but until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order, they will probably form a separate flock and avoid the adults as much as possible. You are dealing with living animals so no one, including me, can tell you exactly what will happen. I’ve seen some pretty young chicks freely mix with the adults without problems but the more normal situation is that the young avoid the old as best they can. Hopefully they have enough room to do that.

    2. At the moment the mother and the chicks are having chick crumble, fermented wheat and a few scraps while the other girls are having a mix of super poultry mix/layer crumble, fermented wheat and plenty of green scraps (which they LOVE). I have read that if a laying bird eats chick crumble (as it's medicated) you have to discard the eggs... So, my question is (stupid or not) how can I make sure they eat what they are supposed to including us having the eggs?

    First, what is the “Medicine” in the medicated feed? It should be on the label. Many people are quick to assume it is a certain thing but personally I like to know what medicine I’m dealing with before I take a chance with my family’s health.

    The medicine is probably Amprolium. Amprolium is the standard one. If it is anything else or Amprolium plus anything else, obviously what I’m about to say does not apply. Amprolium is not an antibiotic and will not destroy the probiotics in the chicken’s digestive system. Its sole purpose is to restrict the Coccidiosis bug in the chicken’s digestive system from reproducing. It does not totally stop the bug from reproducing, it allows enough for the chick to develop immunity but tries to keep the number of that bug from overwhelming the chick and making it sick.

    According to the USDA and Purina there is no withdrawal period from feeding Amprolium until you can safely at the eggs. I’ve pointedly asked Purina twice if that means you can eat the eggs if you continue to feed medicated feed or if that means you can eat the eggs once you stop feeding Amprolium. They just repeat that “no withdrawal period” language they get from the USDA without answering the question. I’m not a medical professional so I’m not going to render an opinion.

    Since your chicks have been with the broody hen, they have been exposed to whatever Coccidiosis bug is in your flock. They normally develop immunity after two to three weeks exposure, so they should be immune to that strain of Coccidiosis. Since they have immunity there is no reason to continue feeding medicated feed.

    There are a few techniques to keep the adults from eating the chick’s feed, a creep feeder for example. That’s where you put the chick’s feed in an area where only the chicks can get to it, like though a small opening. I know of no way to prevent the chicks from eating the adult’s food. By two weeks my chicks fly up to the adults’ feeder to get a good meal. Younger than that, Mama will take food out of the adult feeder and feed it to her chicks.

    The main problem with feeding a mixed age flock is that the chicks should not eat the excess calcium that is in Layer feed. It can damage interior organs or cause skeletal damage. A standard way to handle this is to feed them all the same low-calcium feed and offer calcium in the side, typically oyster shells. The laying hens that need the calcium for their egg shells will normally eat what they need and the ones that don’t need the excess calcium won’t eat enough to harm themselves.

    3. Keeping in mind the above.... If I gave them grower crumble earlier than the 8 weeks would it hurt them and would be cause an issue with the eggs?

    No, it will not hurt them or cause an issue with the eggs. A standard way to feed chicks is to start them off with a Starter that is fairly high in percentage protein. This helps get them feathered out and off to a good start. That usually takes about four weeks. When that bag of Starter runs out, switch to a lower percentage protein Grower. They don’t need the higher percentage protein once they are feathered out but it won’t hurt them. It really doesn’t matter if you stop that higher protein at 4 weeks or much later. That standard method assumes all they eat is the chick feed.

    But a whole lot of use don’t do the standard way. If your chicks are foraging with a broody hen you lose a lot of control over that anyway. What other treats you feed them and the nutritional value of those treats factor in also. It’s not what percentage protein is in one bite of feed, it’s how many total grams of protein they eat in a day. Chicks that eat more protein will grow faster an end up bigger, but the ones that eat less protein will still do fine. Some people continue to feed a higher protein feed even after that start to lay. Those do fine.

    The commercial egg-laying operations have it down to a science. They normally feed a high protein Starter for about 4 weeks, then switch to a lower protein Grower, around 16% protein. At about 13 weeks they switch to a 15% Finisher/Developer to slow body growth down a bit so their internal organs and skeleton can develop before they start to lay. Then when it is time they switch to Layer. That’s where a lot of these recommendations come from.

    We are not commercial operations. We don’t micromanage every bite that goes into their mouth. They usually use a feeding technique where they release a specific amount of feed when all the chickens are hungry so they all eat it up. Then they wait until they are hungry again before they provide more feed. That way each chicken gets exactly the amount they need with less waste and without the bullies being food hogs. They control the pullets that have been especially bred for this lifestyle with lighting to determine when they will start to lay. We don’t need to be nearly as rigid as they are. We can be quite flexible in how we feed them. They typically do fine.

    You can manage your chicks as you wish. I’m not going to criticize you whichever way you decide. You can put the hen and chicks with the main flock now and see how that goes. You can keep them separate until the hen weans her chicks, then reintegrate the hen. If you have sufficient space and that grow-out pen is next to the rest of the flock, that probably won’t go badly. You can integrate the chicks whenever you feel comfortable doing that. You can get a really wide variety of opinion as to when that is best. Most of the time we are successful whenever and however we do it, especially when they have plenty of space. The odds are pretty good you will be successful whichever way you decide as long as you take a minimum of precautions. But they are living animals and no one can give you any guarantees.

    This probably sounds a lot more complicated than it is. That’s because so many different things work. There is no one right way where every other way is wrong.

    Good luck!
     
  5. HildaHen

    HildaHen New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    May 19, 2014
    West Australia
    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, everything you said made sense.
    I think because I only have a small flock ( 7 plus 4 chicks) and have so much interested vested in them I just want to do the right thing and care for them in the best way I can but, as you so rightly said, they are living animals and there is no *correct* way!
    Thank you again for your reply, I will let you know how it goes.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by