Topic of the Week - Raising Chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by sumi, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    With Spring only a few weeks away many chicken owners are thinking about hatching or buying chicks to raise during the warmer months. I would like to hear you all's thoughts and tips on buying and raising chicks. Specifically:

    - What preparations do you make before hatching/buying chicks?
    - Tell me about your brooder(s); Also, do you brood indoors or outdoors?
    - How to raise healthy, strong chicks. (Supplements/Feed/Heat management, etc)

    Anything you'd like to add?


    For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
     
  2. Lfulvipes

    Lfulvipes Just Hatched

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    [​IMG]
    This is my brooder. But it is based on theoretical knowledge only [​IMG]. I have it in our below ground basement where the temperature is constantly 55 degrees and with the lamp I can get it up to 95 degrees inside the brooder. Under the pine shavings is a folded tarp so when I need to "change the diapers" I can just fold it up and take it to our compost heap. We are preparing for 8 chicks and this is our first time having chickens. We are very excited! [​IMG]

    Am I missing anything?!?
     
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  3. jrmiller9

    jrmiller9 Just Hatched

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    They like a little roost even when they are little.
     
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  4. burkechicken

    burkechicken Out Of The Brooder

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    Welcome to BYC. Great info here. Just be ready for a fine coating of dust on everything. I also raised thee feeder and waterer up on a brick so they wouldn't poop in it. Good luck
     
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  5. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Make sure the brooder is spacious enough for the number of chicks and that there is both a warm area and a cooler area where they can go to regulate their body temperatures. I watch the chicks' behaviour in the brooder to see if they are comfortable. Too hot and they will spread out as far as possible away from the heat source and possibly breathe with open beaks (panting almost). Too cold and they will dog pile and/or huddle closely together. Comfortable chicks will walk and/or sit around the brooder, messing about and chattering happily when not sleeping.

    The recommended temperatures for brooding chicks (in the warmest part of the brooder) is around 95F for the first week, to be reduced by about 5F weekly until they are fully feathered. I've brooded new chicks at 80-85F and they were quite happy at that, so I go for what their behaviour tells me and adjust the heating accordingly.

    Brooder size recommendation as follows:

    Up to 2 weeks: 0.5 sq ft per chick
    2-4 weeks: 1 sq ft per chick
    4-8 weeks: 2.5 sq ft per chick
    Over 8 weeks: 4 sq ft per chick
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
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  6. lkalexander27

    lkalexander27 New Egg

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    I'm new here! Hello everyone. So we went and got some straight run chicks and I've had them for 2 days. I feel like we already have a dominant rooster. He is larger than the rest of the birds and he will peck at you if you try to put your hands in the cage. He also will give the chicks I put back in the cage a little peck once they are returned. Does any bird do this or is this most likely a roo?
     
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    It's Chick Time and BYC suddenly awakens with eager newcomers seeking the sage advice of those who've been there before them. Getting those cute, tiny, helpless fluff balls can be very anxiety provoking. You just look at them and think, one false move and they're done for.


    - What preparations do you make before hatching/buying chicks?

    So you prepare. That means studying up on what things chicks require for safety, proper development, and over-all well being. Most people automatically think chicks are so fragile they need to be kept indoors in a box with a hot light on them, with a thermometer hung inside like an oven thermostat lest the tinys suffer a little cool-off and fall like a cake in an undependable oven.

    Then later on, they are overwhelmed by the constant chirping, poop odors and dander and dust. "When can they move outdoors?" is the common question on the chick forum a few weeks into chick season. Well, I say move them outdoors from the very start!

    I brood outdoors now. Gosh, it's so much better for everyone, especially the chicks. They start out where they're going to end up anyway, and there's no stressful adjustment later. They are installed with the adult flock and are accepted as members of the flock early on, making integration a breeze.

    I use the heating pad system so no dangers of overheating, and the chicks establish natural day/night sleep patterns, contributing to their well-being. They harden off early to cooler temps, therefore they need no acclimatizing later on. And best of all, you have a clean house with no greasy dander to hunt down and clean up.

    - Tell me about your brooder(s); Also, do you brood indoors or outdoors?

    I section off a safe chick pen in the run. My run is covered and the sides are protected from the wind and weather. The chicks have their heating pad cave for warmth, and even when it's freezing at night and only in the 50s(F) during the day, they're just fine and manage to warm up when they need to.

    They are growing up in proximity to the adults and learning every single minute from observing them. By the time they are given access at age two weeks by means of portals from their chick pen, they already understand which adults needs to be given a wide birth and which ones can be trusted.

    [​IMG]


    By age five weeks, they are finished with their heating pad and can move into the coop with the big chickens. This method of brooding is so effortless and natural, it's really catching on here in the BYC community. I anticipate the day when plastic tote brooders with heat lamps will be laughed off the pages.

    - How to raise healthy, strong chicks. (Supplements/Feed/Heat management, etc)

    On day one, the chicks get Poultry Nutri-drench as a precaution and nutritional boost to combat any shipping stress and to get them off to a good start. I make a weak "tea" from it and the chicks drink it for their first week or so.

    I feed my chicks fermented feed, but to start them off, I sprinkle dry crumbles on the ground to get them to want to eat. They scratch around and eat what they find and quickly graduate to the FF. I've found that, since chicks have a proclivity to swim in their food, a tiny container no more than a couple inches in diameter is best. I use the plastic cups the icing comes in that you get with those tubes of breakfast sweet rolls and I glue metal washers to the bottom to give them weight .

    Growing up outdoors in proximity to the adult flock is the best way to insure healthy chicks since they are picking up immunities from their environment against disease, making them more disease resistant. Chicks brooded indoors miss this valuable "window", which closes after the first couple weeks. Chicks raised outdoors feather out quicker and are more cold hardy because of it. Best of all, there is very little stress involved as the chicks are integrated into the flock.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
    5 people like this.
  8. I Love Layers

    I Love Layers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    - What preparations do you make before hatching/buying chicks?
    Before buying you need to make sure you have room for them in your coop, or already have a coop built as I when they're old enough they can go out.
    Before they come you should have feeders and Waterers already out and a day before you should put the wood chips in.


    - Tell me about your brooder(s); Also, do you brood indoors or outdoors?
    Here it is not nice enough to have brooders outdoors until April or May so I set mine up inside
    Brooders #1
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Brooders #2
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    - How to raise healthy, strong chicks. (Supplements/Feed/Heat management, etc)
    When they hatch or when i get them from the post office I give them electrolytes right away with their water. I give unmedicated chick feed from day 1 until 16 weeks. Once it gets warm enough here I start letting them outside under my supervision, usually around 2 months I let them outside by themselves and they are able to roam around.
    For heat I usually just move down by how much heat the bulb gives off rather then moving the bulb up



    Anything you'd like to add?

    For feeders and Waterers it depends on how many chicks I have. The hatch I'm getting this week is 43 chicks so I am using larger Waterers and feeders.
     
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  9. ErinWalter

    ErinWalter New Egg

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    This is my first time ever having chicks and I'm a nervous wreck! Can't seem to get the temperature right. Is it normal for them to kind of pile just outside the main lamp space to sleep? Kept thinking it's too hot but it's lower than suggested and they were happy when awake.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    [​IMG] They'll hang out where they are comfortable and it seems they found a "sweet spot" on the edge of the hot zone there. You can raise the heat lamp a bit bit, to make the area just below it a more appealing temperature for them and give them a bit more room in the brooder to hang out in.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
    2 people like this.

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