Tips for Healthy Happy Chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by CarrieDee86, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. CarrieDee86

    CarrieDee86 In the Brooder

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    Hi there! This is my first year raising chicks, and I have read so much that I'm a little overwhelmed! I have six chicks that are about three weeks old in a large brooder in my garage, and 9 chicks that are all around 1 week old (little more, little less). We have a GREAT BIG coop and run for them set up when they get old enough. My questions are:

    1. Is ACV in the chick water important? If so, should I bother putting it in the 3 wk old chicks' water, since they haven't had it from the beginning?

    2. Medicated feed: I'm giving the medicated feed to the younger ones but not the older ones. The older ones are doing great on regular chick starter, but should they also be getting the medicated?

    3. How do you feed them other things like fruits and such? Which fruits to do you find are best for good health? Are there any rules to introducing new foods? My chicks have only ever had chick starter, so far.

    4. What else can I do to make sure my chicks are as healthy as possible? I lost one yesterday to pasty butt, and I don't want to loose any more. I checked her before work and her vent was clean. When I got home, she was barely breathing and passed within the hour after I got home. So I'm very worried that I did something wrong or missed something along the way.

    Sorry for so many questions, and thank you in advance for your patience with a newbie! I appreciate your wisdom and advice!!
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

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    Grit is important if you are going to start feeding treats. Allow 24 hours after you introduce grit before offering the goodies. Then use them very sparingly.

    Chances are your chick died from being constipated. That usually follows pasty butt. The treatment is one teaspoon coconut oil inserted into the beak in tiny amounts until you get it all down. Having the oil in its solid for is easier and safer to administer. At the first sign of lethargy, you need to treat. A chick can die very quickly from it.

    Having lots of cool space in the brooder is essential, with just one appropriate heat zone under which to warm themselves. I highly recommend avoiding heat lamps and using devices such as heat plates or heating pads which simulate a more natural method - a broody hen.
     
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  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    Some folks swear by ACV. IMO, in order to derive any benefit from it, it must be raw ACV, or ACV with the mother. There is some benefit to be had with this addition to the water, but it can be over done.

    Medicated feed: I've never used it, never had any issues with coccidiosis.

    How do you feed them other things like fruits and such? I don't. My chicks get their feed, and they also get scrambled eggs.

    What else can I do to make sure my chicks are as healthy as possible? I lost one yesterday to pasty butt, and I don't want to loose any more.
    I give Poultry Nutri Drench to ALL of my chicks, including the weak ones suffering from shipping stress, and the ones that come kicking out of the egg like little Ninja Warriors. They get it daily for the first week (mixed in their water) then with decreasing frequency the second and third week.

    Starting shortly after they are eating their crumble well, I introduce them to a plug of sod from my untreated lawn. I plop it right into the brooder, upside down. They get: first grit, minerals, first greens, a few seeds and insects, perhaps a worm or two, scratching practice, first dust bath, infinite play value, and most importantly: A gut full of beneficial bacteria and fungi to kick start their digestion and immune systems. They also get first doses of the pathogens that they will encounter in your yard. YES, it's important for them to have this early exposure while they are young, preferably in the first 2 weeks of their lives, while their antibody levels received from their mothers are at their highest level.

    Heat: My chicks are brooded in an outdoor coop with MHP system at ambient spring temps (starting in 20's and ending with night time temps in 30's, day time temps varying from 40's to mid 70's). The MHP only heats a small foot print of space for them to cuddle under, just like Mother Broody would do. The rest of their brooding area is what ever the outdoor temps are. They thrive. And wean themselves off heat by 4 - 5 weeks of age.

    Space: Crowded chicks are stressed chicks. Stressed chicks are prone to disease and aggression issues which can develop into a life time of aggressive behaviors. By the time chicks are 2 - 3 weeks old, they should have 2 s.f. in brooder per chick. My chicks in the before mentioned coop have a 4 x 8' loft for the first 2 weeks of brooding. After that time, I open up the entire space and they have a total of 8 x 16' of loft/run space available to them.

    Fermented feed: Also helps ensure a healthy gut. The fermentation process breaks down the antinutrients in the feed so they can make better use of the nutrients. If you use FF, you do not need ACV.
     
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  4. CarrieDee86

    CarrieDee86 In the Brooder

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    Do you suspend the heating pad somehow so they get under it like they would a hen? Or do you just lay it on the floor of the brooder?
     
  5. CarrieDee86

    CarrieDee86 In the Brooder

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    Sounds like Nutri-Drench is the way to go. Also, you have to make the fermented feed yourself, right? I'll look into that! With the scrambled eggs, do you just put a small dish of them in the brooder, all chopped up? And they'll just go after it?
     
  6. debid

    debid Crowing

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    The idea is to replicate a hen. There are multiple ways to do this and an entire thread full of images and ideas if you search for mama heating pad. But going underneath allows them to warm properly. Most will angle it so the chicks can snuggle right up against the pad or choose a slightly cooler spot as needed. It also suits variable sizes better that way.
     
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  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    There's a FAQ article in my signature about the how and why of FF. Yes, it takes them a while to discover that the eggs are edible, but then they go nuts over them. It's important that you only give them what they will eat, and not let any lay around in the brooder to rot. FF is super easy to make. Just water, feed, time... Chicks are resistant to any thing new, so they may balk at the FF at first. I start slow, with just a tiny bit plopped onto a piece of cardboard, and sprinkle it with dry feed. Or even sprinkle it with some of their scrambled eggs, which they will be fighting over within a couple days of learning about them!
     
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  8. CarrieDee86

    CarrieDee86 In the Brooder

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    @lazy gardener Thank you, this is so helpful!! I'm excited to try them out on a bit of scrambled egg! I will also check out your feed about FF. :)
     
  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

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    I also can't say enough about brooding as closely to a mama hen as humanly possible. So I'm a huge proponent of Mama Heating Pad. Here is a link to the thread. The thread is huge...it kinda took on a life of it's own, so it can seem overwhelming. But pretty much everything you need to know is in the very first post, and in that post toward the bottom is a link to another page in the thread that explains how @Beekissed sets hers up. Many folks have changed from the pad draped over the frame to using her setup:

    http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/956958/mama-heating-pad-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update

    Welcome to BYC!
     
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