Scared chick mom!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by KimberlyKTX, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. KimberlyKTX

    KimberlyKTX Hatching

    Mar 14, 2012
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    I have been pouring over the forums and still have SO many questions... I'm hoping that a few of you who have raised chicks in the past will pass on a bit of your knowledge to a first time chick mom. I got my chicks Friday from Cackle Hatchery - 5 white leghorns and 5 Easter eggers, all pullets (I'm estimating that they are 5/6 days old today as they were shipped Wednesday.) I live in a city where we can have 5 chickens so my dad and I are sharing

    I am feeding them DuMORE chick starter, I do not think it is medicated because I bought it before I started reading the forum. I am putting organic apple cider vinegar in their water and keeping their brooder clean (though they sure do poop a lot for something so little!!![​IMG].) I have read a lot about feeding the chicks treats - but I don't know when I can start (I am going to get some meal worms for them.) Can they eat these now, and if they do should I start sprinkling the chick grit over their food?

    When can they start eating peelings and things from the kitchen, I'm guessing probably not right now - but when is a good age to start enjoying fresh greens and fruits? Also, when they finally go into their coop outside do you just throw the scraps on the ground for them or do I have to find something to use as a 'dish' of sorts? (I know that sounds like a totally stupid question, but I wonder if throwing it out on the ground requires me to rake up the excess every evening - which is fine but I have no idea how much chickens eat or if that food would be alright for them if there is still remnants left the next day...)

    They are very young now, but I have read about putting perches in the brooder to teach them about sleeping on them for when they get into their coop. They won't have any other chickens so I'm hoping that this all comes naturally to them - so when should I introduce this into their environment? Also, I saw people bring in dirt from outside but there were different ages in different posts, and some (if not all) were on medicated food - so I'm wondering if this is something I should do (because I want them to become resistant to outside germs and stuff) but getting the unmediated food is this a good idea? And if it is - at what age should I start?

    I also read that Kefir is good for chicks, and sour milk - can the chicks have this now or should they be older. And last but not least - I know what to look for (mostly) to watch for them getting sick (from reading the other posts in this wonderful chick information paradise) but if I DO suspect something amiss - what do I need to get for them to help them survive? I'm guessing my biggest concern should be Cocci, so if they get this is there some medication that will save my chicks?

    Thank you so much in advance for any wisdom you can spare a urban mom who decided she needed chicks and is now scared to death!!!!!
  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    The chances are they will not have a problem with cocci. Or any problem, for that matter. That's the only trouble with doing so much reading -- people post problems, not so much when things go fine. And of course we start imagining illnesses when there are none. So -- pay attention, of course, but mostly just relax and enjoy! I've had this flock about 4 years now, they do their growing up outdoors from day one, and I've never had anything but fowl pox (which IMO needs no treatment in most cases) and predators, plus one pullet just died one day, I have no clue why. I'd say it goes this way with many or most flocks.

    There are really no hard and fast rules about treats. A little chick grit (I wouldn't mix it with the food) when you give treats is probably a good idea. Remember, treats change the balance of nutrients they get from their feed. A good rule of thumb is, never more than 10% treats, of their total volume eaten. Personally I would give less than that, especially when young. Many on here feel treats should not be given at all for a few weeks. Certainly a little yogurt or kefir will do no harm, and may well be helpful, populating their gut. Cut anything solid up small, for that age.

    If you're trying to get them used to you, able to be handled later, just put a little of the regular feed in your palm and lay it on the brooder floor. You can also moisten it with water or a bit of yogurt -- presto, new food. Even my mature chickens get more excited about feed on the ground than in the feeder.

    You can use a bowl if you want, but they will pull the food out and put it on the ground, anyway. I feed mine extra eggs, scrambled, which I put on a paper plate for my convenience. They carry bits of egg all over their yard. The rooster pulls bits out, drops them in front of him, and calls his girls. They WILL eat off the ground. And if I don't remove it, they will eat parts of the paper plate, lol.

    Mine always roosted on their own. A roost in the brooder is a good idea, right now, not so much to teach them, as to offer them something different, help keep them occupied. Many times, brooders are very small and very boring -- and often too hot; I don't subscribe to 95 degrees after the first few days, nowhere near. They will let you know what is comfortable. I like to put something different in the brooder every day or two, just to occupy them. Even moving things around helps. Some little block of wood to jump up on is good, a small mirror (not glass,) a child's toy, any different shape -- really most anything that fits in there and looks different.

    You are worried about cocci. If it will make you feel better, buy some Corid so you have it handy if this happens. Maybe the wallet damage is worth it. We have rather wet, low ground here, which should be good breeding ground for cocci, but I've never seen a case of it, not even suspicious for it. On the other hand, if it does happen, treatment must be fast to save them. And Corid is a relatively harmless drug to the chicken. It's actually a concentrated version of the same med they medicate feed with, amprolium. It's not an antibiotic. It blocks the uptake of thiamine in the cocci, starving them out or inhibiting their growth, without affecting the chicken much if at all. You can even eat the eggs if you give the hen amprolium. It's possible your vet or county extension agent would know whether cocci tend to be a problem in your area. I've read they aren't in Phoenix; you may be too desert like to worry about them.

    Kefir and yogurt (the good stuff) provide some probiotics, which are good for them. I don't know anything about giving them sour milk. Keep the quantity small, though. Remember, birds are lactose intolerant. The lactose is supposedly already broken down in products like yogurt and kefir, though.

    The piece of sod is something they will love, and will keep them occupied for a long time. True, there is the danger that you will introduce some cocci -- although cocci is a matter of quantity, they will be exposed, most likely, and they will gradually build an immunity. It may even be that a chunk of sod will encourage immunity development.

    All IMO, of course.

    Please don't be scared. The chances are very good they will be fine. You obviously will be observant, and you have a great resource here if something does come up. What more can you do? Enjoy!!!
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
  3. KimberlyKTX

    KimberlyKTX Hatching

    Mar 14, 2012
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    Thank you SO SO SO SO MUCH!!! It was just all so overwhelming and you have helped me not be so scared!! I know there are no hard and fast rules, but a good opinion is worth a pound of gold, especially when it is so well written! [​IMG]

    Now I get to enjoy the antics of these little fuzz balls without worrying so much!

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