Some questions about chicks (7wks) + chickens

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by chickenqs, Sep 5, 2010.

  1. chickenqs

    chickenqs New Egg

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    Sep 5, 2010
    I have a batch of chicks (7 weeks old) in a brooder inside my house and am wondering about a few things...first, in the past I've always just given the chicks medicated chick starter crumbles (by Blue Seal) until the time they go into the coop with the rest of the adult hens (6 - 9 weeks usually) at which time they eat the Egg Maker crumble (also Blue Seal) from the feeder that the rest of the adult hens eat. I was told this was fine by the local farm store that I get the feed from, but just looked into it online and see that the Egg Maker crumble is recommended for 20+ week old chickens...so what's the worst that would happen if chicks around 2 months old ate it? They've done it before and I haven't noticed any problems (at least none seemingly related to feed) but if it's a big issue then I'll have to do something about it.

    Second, I just ran out of the medicated chick starter crumble feed; what should I give them now? The bag doesn't say anything about it, but the Blue Seal website recommends to give it to them until 8 weeks old, then switch to Grower Cal (mash) from 8 to 20 weeks. I've never used Grower Cal before and am wondering how they would respond to being switched from crumbles to mash...also, the stores that carry it are closed today (Sunday) and tomorrow (Labor Day), so that makes it difficult. The bigger box stores that are open carry Purina, so would it be alright to get Purina Start & Grow instead? And if so, should I get it medicated or non-medicated?

    Finally (and unrelated to feed for the most part), when can I put the chicks in with the older hens outside? I read on here that it's not recommended until they're 16 weeks old (4 months) but there's no way they could fit in the brooder up until that age. I've moved 6-9 week old chicks in there before but it's never easy, as the bigger hens will usually attack the chicks and will require a lot of supervision...plus, it gets cold this time of year (average of 65 degrees during the day, 50s at night) and I'm always concerned about the chicks being out in that temperature, although I've never had any die from it before. On the other hand, as the chicks get bigger and bigger they become cramped in the brooder inside the house and will begin flying around and attacking each other, plus it becomes much more cumbersome and messy to take care of them in the house at that age. So what should I do?

    Thanks for any help or advice!
     
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Don't give your chickens calcium (in the layer crumble) until they start to lay. It causes kidney and other problems.

    You can feed flock raiser (with oyster shell on the side for your layers to eat, which they will) for your whole flock. This is if you only want to buy one kind of feed.

    There is a debate about medicated and nonmedicated chick starter. Some people don't want the medicated. I just finished two rounds of treatment for coccidiosis, which started as soon as I stopped the medicated chick starter.

    Your chickens still need more protein than your layers. Starter/grower feed is what they need. You can get it in crumbles. I avoid mash.

    What I do is get some 4 foot poultry netting and fence off an area for the younger chicks, where they can see the older chickens. I keep them in an outside small coop with a light bulb (or two) on until they are fully feathered.

    Your should be fully feathered by now, or almost so. If you are moving them out of the house with constant temperatures to the weather you are describing, you could run a "light bulb" (not heat lamp) if there is no risk of fire in their little coop, and let them come and go from it. That's what I do.

    When they get cold, they can go to the bulb. After awhile, you could stop the bulb if they have draft-free housing, after they become used to the outside temps.
     
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I would give them at least a week to get used to the outside temps with a heat source.
     
  4. sixxchixx

    sixxchixx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 10, 2010
    Escondido, CA
    you need somone with more experience for the feed questions, but I too am having the same problem with introducing my 11 week olds to my 2 hens. i asked this on the forum last night

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=4780968#p4780968

    i think i got some advice. basically you can introduce them now but under heavy supervision and maybe for only 15 min at a time. as far as the temp, I think they would be ok at 7 weeks. if you do the 5 degrees every week, at 7 weeks 65 degrees is fine. you can maybe extension cord the heat lamp out there for another week for the nighttime temps but by now they should have some pretty good feathering ill bet theyre fine.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  5. Muggsmagee

    Muggsmagee Menagerie Mama

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    Central NY
    Quote:The medicated feed should be supplied for at least 12 weeks (though I prefer to go 16). The Egg Maker crumble won't hurt them, but the "extras" they put in the feed don't pertain to your 7 week old chicks' nutritional needs. Also, if you need to switch brands...that is okay...go and buy that Purina if you need it! I suggest to give them medicated.

    Everyone has a different view about introducing chicks to the older flock. 4 month old chicks is a great avg to go by when introducing them to an older flock. However, I have integrated my 2 month old lav ameraucanas with hens and roos, and they did fine! The pecking order happens. Abuse doesn't have to. We take a large rabbit cage (covered on top) and put it in the middle of the flock run. We feed/water the chicks separately but allow the hens/roos to observe the chicks for a few weeks before we let them out. For a few consecutive days or weeks we will let the chicks out to investigate. I've noticed the hens that are lowest in the pecking order peck the most at the new chicks. When we think the timing is right, we put the chicks in the coop at night with the rest. You have to use good judgement. If your chicks are being abused, bloody, limping, you need to keep them separate a bit longer.

    Right now, I would say your chicks are too young to fend for themselves with the older flock. Introduce them through a fence/cage first. There is no reason you have to keep them inside at this age. Just make sure they are protected from the elements, and if they are not feathered in, provide them with a heat lamp if it is cold in your area.
     
  6. chickenqs

    chickenqs New Egg

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    Sep 5, 2010
    Thanks for the responses,

    You can feed flock raiser (with oyster shell on the side for your layers to eat, which they will) for your whole flock. This is if you only want to buy one kind of feed.

    This sounds like a good idea since I'm not sure how I'd get the chicks to eat one kind of feed and the adult hens to eat another kind if they were in the same coop together without having them separated. The Purina site says it's for poultry up until 20 weeks, so does that mean any harm would come to the older hens if they had their feed switched to it for a few months until the chicks grew to laying age?

    Your should be fully feathered by now, or almost so. If you are moving them out of the house with constant temperatures to the weather you are describing, you could run a "light bulb" (not heat lamp) if there is no risk of fire in their little coop, and let them come and go from it. That's what I do. When they get cold, they can go to the bulb. After awhile, you could stop the bulb if they have draft-free housing, after they become used to the outside temps.

    Any specific type of light bulb I should look for? I've got a few clamp lights lying around with standard white bulbs in them but it seems to me like they don't produce very much heat...but then again I haven't tested them out much. And would having the light on in the middle of the night (when it's coldest) bother them since they wouldn't be experiencing any "night time" with either sunshine or lamp light all the time?

    Regarding medicated vs non-medicated feed: If I were to feed them medicated chick starter or grower up until 12 to 16 weeks I'd have to keep them separate from the hens to keep the hens from eating it too...unless I could switch the food source for both the adult hens and the chicks entirely to medicated chick feed until the chicks get bigger, but again, I'm not sure of what effect that would have on the older birds.

    Also forgot to mention in the original post: while I've never had any chicks die soon after being moved into the coop before, I have had two adult hens die in that time period. No obvious reason or explanation, no marks or wounds or anything else, one day they'll just be in there dead. This has happened with two hens on separate occasions within the first 2 or 3 months of having the new chicks introduced when I've done it in the past, so I don't know whether or not those deaths were coincidence, but it's another thing I'm worried about with introducing chicks again and is something I'd like to prevent from reoccurring if at all possible.​
     
  7. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Here's my experience and thus, my suggestion:

    Medicated chick starter for 8 weeks. Grower/Finisher feed for everybody older than 8 weeks. Free choice crushed oyster shell (I put mine in an empty tuna tin nailed to the coop wall, and sometimes toss some out in the same place outside) which the layers will take as needed and nobody else will eat it, although chicks may taste it because they're curious.

    I don't offer layer feed at all any more. I also use crumbles, not mash nor pellets.

    I put young chicks in a 'grow out' coop area, with a temporary poultry fence around it so they have a little bit of a run. Everybody gets to see, smell, hear, and even chest bump through the fence, but nobody gets hurt. I keep them there until they're about 12 or 13 weeks old, then I just remove the temporary fencing. The big chickens will already "know" who the chicks are, so they won't be strangers, and the pecking order stuff will (usually) be only escalated to the "you can't eat before me" and "get out of my way" level. Be sure to keep a second feeder and waterer available so the little ones can eat and drink when the big ones try to tell 'em they "can't use OUR feeder, squirt!"

    Good luck! I've had very little trouble with these methods, and have introduced youngsters about five separate times now. I will continue to follow this method because it works really well for me and my flock.
     

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