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Old 05-23-2012, 01:45 PM   #1
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Default Better Hens and Gardens….

Better Hens and Gardens….
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Couldn’t resist!!! Catchy, eh? I’ve been typing out what I do with day old chicks hoping maybe it’ll come in handy for anyone like me whose had enough of factory farmed anything ending up on their dinner plates.
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Ever heard the saying, “why you dirty bird”? There’s something to it so you may want to cover everything you can in the room where you’re putting the babies or count on having to clean every surface every week. They sure do create a lot of dust for being such lil things. Just in case anyone thinks I’m exaggerating….

adding.... crappola.... photos at home. Nobody post yet.... I'm on a roll adding my "day olds 101" from work and I'll add photos later.
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:48 PM   #2
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Default Day Olds 101

I start preparing by scrubbing out then sterilizing a stock tank that’s about 2.5’ tall with a 10% solution of bleach. I dry it off and put it in a corner of my living room. I picked the living room since it’s on the 1st floor of the house, doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, isn’t drafty, and has generous sized windows that let a lot of natural light stream in. Bedrooms work, kitchen counters work, garages work, penned off sections of chicken coops work…. just about anything works as long as the height of the brooder will be sufficient to keep the babies out of drafts. When I was growing up, a family down the road used an old gutted console tv frame as a brooder. They flipped it over and cut a piece of plywood to fit the back leaving the front of the console facing up. I’ve even seen folk use large Rubbermaid storage containers and large cardboard boxes as brooders. 1 thing though…. if you’re using any container that has corners, there’s a risk of a chick getting stuck in the corner and suffocating when they huddle. Inserts can be taped into the corners to round em out so chicks can’t get trapped in the corners. Your brooder options are pretty much limited only by your imagination.
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You’ll need bedding for your brooder. Fill it with pine shavings. About 3” is sufficient. Other products work well enough as bedding I’ve just found other products to be more expensive. No cedar shavings…. ever…. they’re not worth the risks. After you’ve spread your bedding material, cover it with paper towels. You will want to keep the paper towels down for at least a few days if not the 1st week. The main reason for the paper towels is that they need to learn to eat their food. I’ve found that any time bedding is exposed to day olds, they will try to eat it and nobody wants to lose a chick because a piece of bedding got lodged in their throat or stuck in their crop. Newspaper could be used. Problem with it is day old chicks aren’t too stable on their feet so they’d be at greater risk of straddle legs since it’s slippery.
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Last edited by Equilibrium; 05-23-2012 at 09:25 PM. Reason: adding photos
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:50 PM   #3
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Now that you’ve got your brooder set up, you’re gonna need to position a fixture because a reliable heat source is critical the 1st 3 weeks. There’s no momma your chicks can get underneath and they can’t generate enough heat on their own to stay alive so they’ll need a heat source. I’ve been using a 100w light bulb. I picked up a clamp fixture and attached it to a camera tripod that I raise and lower to reach the desired temps. I’ve seen others create chicken wire lids for their brooders and they rest their fixture on the screen and I’ve seen light fixtures hanging over brooders so this is another situation where whatever works… works.
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Drawbacks on a standard white light bulb are that the chicks get thrown off a little between night and day so they can be up into the wee hours of the morning peeping their brains out. If you’re a light sleeper…. 25 chicks can get real loud in the middle of the night. With an actual heat bulb, they tend to sleep better after nightfall and they don’t start peeping again until the sun comes up. Other benefits of a heat bulb would be that its red light masks injuries. If a chick has a little scrape, the others won’t see the blood and peck at it. I’m not dealing with hundreds of chicks so if a chick gets injured in a stock tank…. I move it into a fish tank on my kitchen counter but… I’ve seen others who do raise hundreds where chicks will peck at a scrape until the chick dies and they’ll continue pecking it until it’s removed from the brooder. Heat bulbs would actually be my 1st choice if I had a stock tank large enough where I could have 2 overhead fixtures…. 1 on each end so if 1 heat bulb blew, the chicks would still have a heat source. Problem is I don’t have a large brooder and heat bulbs haven’t been reliable for me. I’ve had brand new heat bulbs out of the box pop after they were only on for a second. I’ve had them go after a week and I’ve had them burn out after we’ve had brown outs. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why they burn out and never last as long as the box says they will. I can’t risk the only bulb in my brooder burning out so we put up with the peeping at 2am and use a standard white bulb. I don’t think I’ve ever had a standard white bulb fail me yet. Others might not want to put up with all the peeping though.
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What ever fixture is used, it needs to provide proper temps at the surface of the bedding. I place an indoor outdoor thermometer on the bedding and adjust the camera tripod up or down to generate temps beneath that are just right for the age of the chicks and I do this before they come so it’s all ready to receive the babies.
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Rule of thumb on temps by week
Week 1- 95°, another week at 95° if there are any problems. The stronger chicks will move farther away from the heat source.

Week 2- 90°

Week 3- 85°

Week 4- 80°
I shut off the light at night. I open windows when the weather’s nice outside to acclimate them to fluctuating temps and breezes.

Week 5- 75°
I move my stock tank out to the screened in porch with a heat lamp set at about 75° during the day. By their 4th week, chicks can generate their own body heat and they will huddle together for additional warmth at night. If the outer air temps are gonna be 45° or below, I’ll generally leave the heat source on over night but it’s probably not necessary. This is the week that I will move chicks out to the chicken tractor during the day if it’s going to be above 65°.

Week 6- no supplemental heat source. With adequate shelter at night, they can be left outside 24/7.
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Last edited by Equilibrium; 05-23-2012 at 09:27 PM. Reason: adding photos
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:51 PM   #4
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Be prepared for a power outage. Your chicks will not last long without a heat source those 1st few weeks even if they huddle. I have a large dog that I use in a pinch. I make him lie down on his bed then put a blanket over him and stuff our chicks in next to his body. I realize most folk don’t have a dog that would tolerate this so come up with something even if it means temporarily putting them all on a heating pad connected to a generator or in a box in front of a wood stove or fireplace. I know a woman down the road from me who took 51 of her week old guineas to bed with her and her husband. Do what you have to do but come up with a plan before the power goes out. They need a heat source or they’re dead. It’s really as simple as that.
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:57 PM   #5
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Backing up to the brooder, you’ll need a waterer and several feeders in place before the chicks arrive. Here’s what we’ve been using for waterers, http://0.tqn.com/d/smallfarm/1/0/6/4/-/-/setupbabychicks-2.jpg and http://merrittpoultry.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/waterer.jpg?w=500. They’re cheap and they work well enough while they’re little. We use the small mason jar waterer in the fish tank on our counter and the larger waterer in the stock tank. Both waterers can be elevated as the chicks grow by setting them in cereal bowls or on an overturned mixing bowl. This is the feeder I use when they’re little, http://img1.etsystatic.com/il_fullxfull.261807209.jpg. The feeders can be raised as they grow too by placing them in cereal bowls. I do not use this trough style of chick feeder, http://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/...d-18-p207.aspx. I have 1 but I stopped using it after 1 of my chicks got its leg stuck in the end. Nothing that a cup of olive oil didn’t take care of but…. it’s a poor design in my opinion. The other issue I had with that style of feeder was that my chicks would stand on it when they were eating. They were pooping in their own crumbles which meant I had to change out the crumbles several times a day. After the chicks are about 2 weeks old, I switch to this type of feeder, http://www.viovet.co.uk/images/image_import_1281518592.jpg. The 1st week I fill the waterers with luke warm water and add marbles to the trays. I lost a chick that drowned in a waterer that did not have marbles in it. It was too weak to raise its head out of the water after it took a drink. It might have died on its own but…. it might not have. I add marbles now, many don’t. For the 1st 2 days after the chicks arrive, I add electrolytes to their water. Many do not do this. The packets of electrolytes are cheap enough and I feel strongly that adding them to the water…. even if it’s just for a day after they’ve been in transit can make a difference. After that 1st week, regular tap water with no additives at whatever temps it comes out of the faucet is fine. As far as feeders, I keep them full and at least a foot away from the waterer. It’s a good idea checking on the chicks several times a day…. you never want to let them run out of fresh water or fresh food.
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Last edited by Equilibrium; 05-23-2012 at 09:29 PM. Reason: Adding photos
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:58 PM   #6
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When the chicks arrive in their little box, I open the lid and begin taking each chick out 1 by 1. Each chick’s beak is dipped in the water. Sometimes I repeat the beak dipping if a chick doesn’t seem to make the connection that there’s water in the waterer. Most will go back to the water on their own. I do this with every chick. Once they’ve all gotten their first beakful of water, I move onto introducing them to their crumbles. I stick a divider in the stock tank leaving the chicks and the waterer on 1 side and the feeders on the other. I then pick up each chick and dip its beak in the crumbles on the other side of the divider. The divider helps me separate chicks that have been introduced to the crumbles from chicks that have not.... believe me.... the divider helps because they all look alike. Remove the divider after each chick has had its beak dipped in the crumbles. I've found they’re not as quick taking to the crumbles as they are to the water. It takes a while but I think it’s worth the extra time. Just an FYI… there are many who say dipping their beaks in water or crumbles is unnecessary work. They feel the chicks will find the water and the crumbles on their own. These folk are probably right but…. I feel better knowing each chick knows how to drink and if I spot a chick or 2 that don’t seem to be “getting” it…. I can move them to a fish tank on my kitchen counter.
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:58 PM   #7
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About the bedding, you may want to change the shavings at least every 4-5 days after you lift off the paper towels.
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About the brooder, you may want to temporarily relocate the chicks to a box so it can be stripped down and bleached every 10 days.
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Old 05-23-2012, 01:59 PM   #8
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About feed…. if their crumbles ever do get wet… you may want to throw it out immediately and replace it. Fungus can grow on feed within a very short period of time and you will lose chicks if they get into contaminated crumbles.
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I choose non-medicated crumbles for my chicks. I’m diametrically opposed to using drugs as prophylactics and since my chicks are all inside with no exposure to any other birds… there’s absolutely no justifiable reason to be pumping them with medicated anything. Even if my chicks were being raised in a brooder inside my chicken coop, I still wouldn’t use medicated feed.
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Chick starter feeds (crumbles) are already broken down so you won’t need any grit. If you aren’t using crumbles, you could add a little rinsed sand. The chicks, as little as they are, will only take what they need.
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Old 05-23-2012, 02:00 PM   #9
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Tip for…. poopy chick butts, pasty vent
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I’ve never had a pasting up problem before the last batch of chicks came in. I’d read a lot online and knew what it was but just hadn’t dealt with it before. Sure do wish I’d taken a photo so y’all could see what it looks like. This site says it’s preventable, “You can usually prevent this by giving newborn hatched chicks water 24 hours before offering feed. I seems to clean out their systems and prevent the problem”, Poopy-Butt or Pasted Vent in Chicks- PoultryHelp.com - Rocking T Ranch and Poultry Farm. Gut tells me pasting up is stress related. I don’t know that withholding food for 24 hours works or doesn’t but… I wasn’t comfortable with the idea on day olds. I do know we need to be on the lookout for poopy chick butts and deal with it when we see it and there’s lots of suggestions online. We have to get those dried up blobs off their butts because they will build up and clog their vents which means they won’t be able to poop. A clogged vent = dead chick. Me, I just hung their little butts under a stream of warm water until the blob was loosened up enough to come off on its own then patted that lil butt dry and used a little cuticle scissors to clip out the fluff around the vent with the thought there’d be less to cling to if they had another pasty poop. Seemed to work because no chick ended up with pasty butt twice and by the 2nd week…. the pasty butt phase was over.
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Old 05-23-2012, 02:00 PM   #10
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Chicks are really pretty easy. Once you realize their needs are very basic and have a general idea of how to meet those needs you can experiment and come up with your own system of caring for day olds that works for you.
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