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Thread: Raising chicks

  1. #1
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    Default Raising chicks

    OK, I have a half dozen White Leghorn chicks coming this week. They hatched last night and I think I'll be getting them by Thursday. I have a small stock waterer that I'm putting them in with a couple of lights over it. I put a thermometer in there and adjusted the lights until it read about 95 degrees. I have medicated crumbles, a small waterer (I know to dip their geeks) and I'm using a floor of newspaper and hardware cloth for a while. What other tips can I get from you all.

    Many thanks in advance and I hope that you and your families have enjoyed a happy and safe Memorial Day holiday!
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    I would get rid of the medicated feed if you can find unmedicated. Just keep it clean, and you don't need to medicate. I'm no Michael Bush, but even I can see that it's not best to eat antibiotics every meal for the first 8 weeks of life.

    Change the water frequently, and wash the waterer and feeder. Somehow, they always manage to poop in their own food and water.

    Change the litter frequently.

    Try to hang the lamp or lamps on something where it is easy to move up and down to adjust the temp. I use a leather belt to clip the lamp to, and then you can quickly move it up and down the belt. Once you get the hang of it, you don't need a thermometer. They will huddle when cold and get out of the light when too hot. Also, don't put lights over the entire brooder -- give them a place to cool off if they need it.

    Handle them a lot early, and they will be tamer when they grow up. That will be really important with Leghorns, which I understand are a high strung breed.

    Have fun. IMO, compared to bees, chickens are easy. (Except that pretty much everything likes to eat chicken.)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    Do not rely on thermometer alone when brooding chicks, you may overheat them and that is worse than chilling them little bit.

    Make sure they have enough room to escape the source of heat when they feel too hot.

    They will tell you by their behavior how comfortible they are, when cold they cuddle together, when too hot they trying to sprerad out, when they are walking all over the place they are perfect and comfortable.

    Myself I never use thermometer for brooding (but I use 2 for incubation, digital and analog).

    Take bunch of newspaper sheets, separate them, then kneed them into a tight balls, then spread sheets out, this way you get wrinkles on them so the chicks get proper traction and will not slide.

    Stack 10 or more sheets on the bottom of your brooder, then when soiled take one out trom the top and trow it away (or use it for your garden, great mulch and fertilizer) you got clean one on the top now.

    Saves work and newspaper is "free" as scrap.

    I do not use wood chips anymore, messy, expensive and dangerous, lost some valuable birds due to choking.

    Best for brooding is an infrared 150 or 250W bulb, but the 250 is too powerful and could be dangerous for indoor situations. I run mine through a dim switch, this way I can lower its output, feel safer and save energy.

    Hang it securely at least 18 inches off the floor, or more.

    In fact I use regular bulbs with dimmer switches too, when I raise several broods of birds at the same time.

    This is my perfect setup for brooding chicks and other bird species.

    Remember overheating is the #1 problem when brooding chicks.

    Also this widely recommended lowering 5 degrees per week less every week,
    comes from the commercial houses brooding hundreds of thousand of chicks in huge bulildings, they have to keep uniform temperature in the building so they have to adhere to some numbers and rules.

    Personally I never go by this, always judging proper amount of heat by chicks behavior. After 2-3 weeks I try to harden them off little bit and shut off the heat for part of the day bringing it back at night if you have colder nights.

    After 3 weeks chicks are good to go without heat indoors, outdoors I give them heat overnight only if necessary.

    Raising and hatching poultry and game birds for 20 years.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    I would just use a 100 watt bulb. I killed five of mine with a 150 watt bulb they got to hot. they don't need that much heat this time of year. I have had 10,000 chicks a year shipped by US mail with no heat on them. Just keep them above 70 deg you will be fine.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    I'm no stranger to chickens but I am to chicks. I like the crumpled newspaper idea. I'll try to keep the lights to the side and let them adjust themselves. I'll also try to find some non-medicated crumble. Keep the thoughts coming!
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    Congrats, raising chicks is so much fun! Will you be posting pictures?

    I agree with the others, don't use shavings. It causes such a mess. Within two seconds of putting in a fresh waterer, they will kick shavings into it. Even on newspaper they will get poop and food into it though, so cleaning often is needed! What you can do is also install a kind of water bottle system (also called water nipples), like they use for rodents. It takes them a while to get the hang of it, but once they do it means less mess for you.

    With the heat source, just be careful to make sure it is as little of a fire hazard as possible. I probably don't even need to mention it, but I know brooder fires can happen and be very tragic!

    Also, if you are keeping them in the house, beware of dust! They generate a lot of dust, so if anyone is sensitive to it, could cause issues. Not to mention extra dusting in the house, because it gets everywhere. Maybe with only six chicks it won't be a huge deal though

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeBrothersApiary View Post
    Honey is GREAT! on chicken
    I'm laughing so hard I can barely type. Fact is, I'm only keeping three. At some point, three will go. Hmmmmm. Thanksgiving?
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    I have always used shavings and havnt had a problem with them eating them............just lucky I guess. As for the feeding, I start out with coffee can lids or paper plates and sprinkle the food on them, once they get the concept of eating, I go to a covered feeder that has slats in it so the chicks can only fit their heads in and not their bodies, which prevents them from wasting A LOT of food!! As for the waterer, just a plain old chick waterer should be good, sounds like they will be old enough to skip the marbles/rocks in the water pan trick! I always feed medicated chick feed to chickens, but never fed it to ducklings, goslings or game bird chicks. As for the heat, I do what Pascopol does, let the chicks be your thermometer, adjust the light hight according to what they are doing. Thermometers only get crapped on and kicked around and are rendered useless!! Your only getting six chicks, just put the light at one end of the brooder and put the water/food on the other end, you dont want wet paper/shavings around the light! Goodluck!!

    Now if only I can convince my wife and kids to get rid of there Bantams and get bee's, I would be happier!!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    You can elevate the hardware cloth floor and use newspaper underneath that indefinitely. It's cheaper than shavings. That's what we did with our batch of 50 from last summer.

    Leghorns are flighty, so they're not going to be super-friendly. You can mitigate this by bribing them early with treats. Give them a grape or a cherry tomato and watch them play chicken "football."

    It's up to you whether or not to medicate; we've done both. It's better to fight cocci by keeping things clean, but chickens are dumb and may eat poop anyway. Watch for pasty bum.

    Give them some sand as grit. If you let them run free they won't need it.

    Our leghorn still cranks out HUGE eggs three years later. Chickens are a lot of fun.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    You have gotten some real good info from everyone on here.I have raised chicks for just about 50 years and I still love to just sit and watch them.Chicks and chickens do the darnedest things.Do feed them the medicated crumbles while they are young.Young chicks immune systems are not up to par till they get older so the medicated crumbles is what you need.One thing you need to do is worm them often.Chickens love to scratch and pick out worms and worms carry a host of parasites.Once you get a bird that is on the ground and it gets parasites they spread them around through their poop.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    For pest control, try to find some diatomaceous earth. Food Grade fossil flour makes awesome dust baths, and you can feed it to the birds as a wormer. It's not a chemical, but it's awesome. We also use it on the dog and for ant control around the house.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    In the end as others have said, leave them room to get away from the heat if they need to or huddle close (as long as they can't get TOO close) if they are cold. A good rule of thumb is there should be some stretched out on the floor and not all of them huddled on top of each other.

    Newspaper works fine.

    I can't seem to find unmedicated chick feed anymore. Frustrating. And, of course, I never use medicated chick feed. So I buy the game bird crumbles (higher protien than chicken feed).
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Raising chicks



    Honey Glazed BBQ chicken breasts, yea!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    I also meant to say, if they are panting, they are too hot...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    "I can't seem to find unmedicated chick feed anymore."

    I've had the same problem. I have found a brand at Atwood's, but it is not their regular brand.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    I always say "You can feed me breakfast or you can feed me dinner." Thus far, our chickens have gone the breakfast route. I agree with other posts here, leghorns are not the most cuddly chickens (we raised some buff orps that essentially acted like cats, hopping up in our lap and sitting with us). Eggs are nice.
    http://www.voiceofthehive.com - Tales of Beekeeping and Honeybees

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    Funny that you mention buffs and laps. We have two buffs now and when they were just starting to get big, they would hop right up on my lap if they thought I was holding something they wanted. Now that they're all grown, they'll sit on a stump in the pen and watch what's going on. The leghorns are for variety as in white eggs. Right now we have the buffs, a couple of Barred Rocks, a couple of Araucana's, a NH Red, a golden comet (massive brown eggs....I always feel sorry for her), a couple of Australorps and two young brown Speckled Sussex hens that have just feathered out a couple of weeks ago. They haven't been formally introduced yet into the flock. If the chick thing works out, I might do it again as I cull and sell the unneeded chicks to others. Wife is about ready to kick me out though!
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    Do you have real Araucanas or are they the Americana? I have been wanting some more of the real Araucanas but have been unable to find them in years.All I seem to be able to find is the Americanas which are crossed.I had a Araucana hen once that thought its place was in my lap or wanting to be held like a small dog.Followed me everywhere I went outside.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Raising chicks

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper1d View Post
    Do you have real Araucanas or are they the Americana? I have been wanting some more of the real Araucanas but have been unable to find them in years.All I seem to be able to find is the Americanas which are crossed.I had a Araucana hen once that thought its place was in my lap or wanting to be held like a small dog.Followed me everywhere I went outside.
    Snapper, if you are willing to incubate hatching eggs, there are plenty of places to get them. I just bought a dozen from Lanae Cash. She has purebred stock, and sent me a half dozen extra eggs that arrived in perfect condition. I just candled them after a few days in the 'bator, and there is great development. Not to mention they are BIG eggs that are the most lovely shade of blue! I can mention a few other excellent people who provide purebred hatching eggs if you want, just PM me.

    Unfortunately with araucanas it is expensive to find adult stock, plus you'd need them to be shipped more than likely even if you did. Starting out with hatching eggs is really the only way to go, though you have to consider that the tufted gene will result in late deaths either right before hatch for some of the chicks (depends on the parenting combo).

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