trying to learn from my mistakes. help welcome!

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
Hi,
So I posted yesterday in the emergency section about losing a chick, asking what I had gone wrong and asking for some suggestions to help from losing any more.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/874953/any-idea-why-this-chick-just-died-i-need-help
n ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
I got few replies pointing out what I did wrong, but no answers to my questions about how to do it better. I thought maybe posting here would be more successful.

I feel terrible that the chick died because I made a mistake, so please don't tear me apart. In the other thread I was called irresponsible, and I'm upset about that. I have planned a curriculum around hatching, been planning this hatch for months, spent 21 days days faithfully caring for the eggs, watching the temp and humidity and spent an entire night up watching them hatch. I've spent the last week cleaning their cage 2-3 times a day, monitoring the temp, scrubbing their water jug, washing their butts. Excited to show them off, yes! Irresponsible, no.

A little background: I hatch chicks with my classroom every year, but after they hatch my boss takes all the chicks from all the classrooms and brings them to a farm. This year I am home with my preschool aged son and bought him an incubator for Christmas so we could do it this spring. The chicks are going back to the farm where he attends a farm-based preschool program as soon as they're too big for their brooder (except for 3, we've fallen in love!)

The post on the emergency page helped me realize I had made a bunch mistakes...
-I took the chicks for a car ride at a week old to show to the children in my son's preschool. I tried to keep the brooder warm by leaving the heat lamp attached, although off for the ride, with a thick blanket over it to hold in warmth. By the time we got home the temp was at 60 degrees (a warm day in New England right now, but not warm enough for the babes)
-I was measuring the temp in the middle of the brooder, not directly under the lamp or away from it. The other posters thought I may have the brooder too cold
-I had fed the chicks scrambled yolks without adding grit to their diet.
-I had taken them for a car ride at 1 week old, and am planning on bringing them out again at 2-3 weeks old to bring them to the farm

HERE ARE MY QUESTIONS!

1- I have the light off to one side, and the thermometer is in the middle of the brooder. I just went and measured with my husbands highly accurate lazer thermometer and I found varying temps.The middle reads 80 degrees, directly under the light reads 122 degrees, and the coldest corner reads 60 degrees. Where am I supposed to situate the thermometer to get an accurate read?

2- for their trip to the farm next week, how can I keep them from getting too cold again? Yesterday when I transported them I unplugged the heat lamp and covered it and the brooder with a think blanket and put the heat on in the car. I was thinking the brooder was already warm, the bulb would still put out a little heat for awhile and the blanket would hold heat in. But, like I said, by the time I got them home the thermometer in the brooder had dropped to almost 60. I certainly don't want to do that to them again and stress them out before they move to their new home! If you purchase them at the feed store how do you keep them warm until they get home?

3- feeding-I was going on the suggestion I found on here about feeding them yolk. I thought yolk was one of the few things I could feed without feeding them grit. I also read that people don't give them grit so young, and I wasn't planning on giving it to them before I bring them back to the farm, do I need to?

4-age- what I'm hearing from everyone is that they are too young to be transported at all. I'm planning on bringing them back to the farm at 2-3 weeks of age. Should I wait longer?
 

Sonya9

Songster
5 Years
Feb 7, 2014
1,259
171
211
Jones County, Georgia
Uhhh....in the other thread your temps ranged from 122 degrees to 60 degrees in the brooder?

Did you research how to care for small chicks? There is plenty of info out there.
 
Last edited:

Bweis13

Songster
7 Years
Feb 15, 2013
170
104
197
I was wondering about that temp. range too. That seems like a really wide range, but do you have a really big brooder?

I've always fed chick starter. It comes in really small bags if you only have a few chicks.
 

PrairieChickens

Songster
7 Years
Jun 29, 2012
1,682
315
221
Kansas
Phew! Lots of info! Ok, let's see what I can offer.
Quote:
Your best gauge for the temperature in the brooder is the behavior of the chicks themselves. They should be moving about the brooder readily, exploring, foraging, napping, and making happy chicky sounds. If they are huddled under the lamp and cheeping loudly, they are cold. If they are avoiding the area under the heat lamp, avoiding each other, and especially if they are visibly panting, the brooder is too hot. Brand-new chicks should have access to an area under the lamp that is between 95 and 100 F. 120 is far too hot, so move the heat lamp up or switch to a lower-wattage bulb. Cool areas in the brooder are fine--even recommended--as long as the chicks have a place they can warm up.

Quote: Brief excursions in cooler temperatures are fine. In nature, young chicks would be following their mother hen around outdoors to forage, and would huddle under her now and then to warm back up. To help keep chicks warm on long trips, you can purchase some "hot hands" packets--often available wherever camping and hunting supplies are sold. Activate a few packets, give them time to warm up, and slip them inside of an old sock. Chicks can cuddle up to them to warm up if they get chilly during the trip. This is basically how some hatcheries are able to ship small orders of chicks without the chicks chilling to death during the journey.

Quote:
3- feeding-I was going on the suggestion I found on here about feeding them yolk. I thought yolk was one of the few things I could feed without feeding them grit. I also read that people don't give them grit so young, and I wasn't planning on giving it to them before I bring them back to the farm, do I need to?
Chicks can start eating grit as soon as they start eating. In nature, they'd be pecking food up off of the ground, and would be getting grit as soon as they took their first bite of food. Personally, I don't know if it's safe to feed scrambled eggs without grit or not, but to be on the safe side, I never feed my chicks anything other than the chick starter if they don't have access to grit as well. All you need to do is offer a little dish of sand in their brooder. They'll nip up a bit, and then you can feed them whatever treats you want without worry.

Quote: Chicks are shipped from hatcheries at just a day old. If you take the necessary precautions, there's no reason you can't transport very young chicks. After all, people do it every time they buy chicks from a hatchery or store! The important thing to remember is that casualties here and there are normal. Heartbreaking though it is, chicks die, even when we do everything right, so while there are things we can do to prevent unnecessary losses, no matter what, sometimes a chick will just not make it.

I recommend purchasing some chick electrolytes from a farm supply store to add to your chicks' water. This will help them cope with the stress of being transported. Hot hands heat packs will keep them warm during long trips, and grit will help them digest treats and unusual food.
 

mortie

Songster
5 Years
Feb 16, 2014
2,249
413
201
The Frozen Tundra
The chick that died may have just been weak. Young chicks go for car rides all the time - how else would they get from the hatchery to the stores or to people's homes that order them. Mine went to my son's school for a visit when they were about 10 days old. Didn't hurt them a bit and I did not have supplementary heat on them while in transit or at the school while they were there. They were outside their brooder for probably an hour with no ill effects.

You should measure the temp right under the light. That should be at the target temp for the age your chicks are. 122 is waaaaay too hot. The rest of the brooder should be cooler. The idea is for the chicks to be able to run around in cooler temps and then return to the heated area to warm up, they way they would if they had a mom.

As an aside, I don't know if you were planning on using those hand warmers on your trip to the farm, but you should be aware that most of them consume oxygen in the chemical process that creates the heat they provide.
 

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
Your best gauge for the temperature in the brooder is the behavior of the chicks themselves. They should be moving about the brooder readily, exploring, foraging, napping, and making happy chicky sounds. If they are huddled under the lamp and cheeping loudly, they are cold. If they are avoiding the area under the heat lamp, avoiding each other, and especially if they are visibly panting, the brooder is too hot. Brand-new chicks should have access to an area under the lamp that is between 95 and 100 F. 120 is far too hot, so move the heat lamp up or switch to a lower-wattage bulb. Cool areas in the brooder are fine--even recommended--as long as the chicks have a place they can warm up.

Brief excursions in cooler temperatures are fine. In nature, young chicks would be following their mother hen around outdoors to forage, and would huddle under her now and then to warm back up. To help keep chicks warm on long trips, you can purchase some "hot hands" packets--often available wherever camping and hunting supplies are sold. Activate a few packets, give them time to warm up, and slip them inside of an old sock. Chicks can cuddle up to them to warm up if they get chilly during the trip. This is basically how some hatcheries are able to ship small orders of chicks without the chicks chilling to death during the journey.

Chicks can start eating grit as soon as they start eating. In nature, they'd be pecking food up off of the ground, and would be getting grit as soon as they took their first bite of food. Personally, I don't know if it's safe to feed scrambled eggs without grit or not, but to be on the safe side, I never feed my chicks anything other than the chick starter if they don't have access to grit as well. All you need to do is offer a little dish of sand in their brooder. They'll nip up a bit, and then you can feed them whatever treats you want without worry.

Chicks are shipped from hatcheries at just a day old. If you take the necessary precautions, there's no reason you can't transport very young chicks. After all, people do it every time they buy chicks from a hatchery or store! The important thing to remember is that casualties here and there are normal. Heartbreaking though it is, chicks die, even when we do everything right, so while there are things we can do to prevent unnecessary losses, no matter what, sometimes a chick will just not make it.

I recommend purchasing some chick electrolytes from a farm supply store to add to your chicks' water. This will help them cope with the stress of being transported. Hot hands heat packs will keep them warm during long trips, and grit will help them digest treats and unusual food.
thank you so much prairiechickens, very very helpful. maybe i'm not doing everything wrong after all :)
 

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
Uhhh....in the other thread your temps ranged from 122 degrees to 60 degrees in the brooder?

Did you research how to care for small chicks? There is plenty of info out there.
yes. i've done tons and tons of research. thanks for the suggestion. i'm here to answer the questions i couldn't figure out on my own.

Maybe posting a picture of my brooder will help me here.


Here's my brooder, it's actually a little bit too small... I wasn't expecting to have such a successful hatch

Here's my brooder thermometer, reading about 90, like all the research I did informed me.

Then I came on here and listened to everyone and became concerned that my temps weren't right.
I went and grabbed my husbands infrared lazer thermometer, used for car diagnostics and is very accurate. It measures the exact temp where the lazer hits.

Today's temps are a little different from last nights, but this is what they are now:


81 measured right in the middle



111 directly under the light (on the floor)



and 71 in the furthest corner.

I know I'm supposed to be keeping the brooder around 90, but now that I find that the brooder has such a huge range in temps, I'm wondering where the placement of the thermometer should be to get the 90 reading. Do I make more sense now?
 

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
Chicks can start eating grit as soon as they start eating. In nature, they'd be pecking food up off of the ground, and would be getting grit as soon as they took their first bite of food. Personally, I don't know if it's safe to feed scrambled eggs without grit or not, but to be on the safe side, I never feed my chicks anything other than the chick starter if they don't have access to grit as well. All you need to do is offer a little dish of sand in their brooder. They'll nip up a bit, and then you can feed them whatever treats you want without worry.

I read it was ok to use play-sand. Do you think a scoop of sand from the kids' sandbox would do it? Or I can go buy grit to be safe...

Chicks are shipped from hatcheries at just a day old. If you take the necessary precautions, there's no reason you can't transport very young chicks. After all, people do it every time they buy chicks from a hatchery or store! The important thing to remember is that casualties here and there are normal. Heartbreaking though it is, chicks die, even when we do everything right, so while there are things we can do to prevent unnecessary losses, no matter what, sometimes a chick will just not make it.

Thank you for this. I've been trying to do everything exactly right, so I was heartbroken to hear I may have caused it's death. Thank you also for the list of things to have on hand, I had electrolytes but had never thought of hand warmers... and I even had some in my car but didn't think of them! Lessons Learned! and thank you sooooo much for your help <3
 

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
The chick that died may have just been weak. Young chicks go for car rides all the time - how else would they get from the hatchery to the stores or to people's homes that order them. Mine went to my son's school for a visit when they were about 10 days old. Didn't hurt them a bit and I did not have supplementary heat on them while in transit or at the school while they were there. They were outside their brooder for probably an hour with no ill effects.

You should measure the temp right under the light. That should be at the target temp for the age your chicks are. 122 is waaaaay too hot. The rest of the brooder should be cooler. The idea is for the chicks to be able to run around in cooler temps and then return to the heated area to warm up, they way they would if they had a mom.

As an aside, I don't know if you were planning on using those hand warmers on your trip to the farm, but you should be aware that most of them consume oxygen in the chemical process that creates the heat they provide.
Thank you Mortie. I was starting to feel like a monster for bringing them to see the children :) Maybe this one just couldn't handle it, I'm going to move the thermometer now and keep an eye on it to adjust the lamp. Thanks for your help!
 
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