Care & Feeding for Baby Chicks
Bedding & Litter
Pine shavings are generally the easiest on the chicks. Shavings should cover the area to a depth of 2-3 inches.
For the first week carry the temperature at 90-95 degrees. with the bulb of the thermometer level at the back of the baby chick. Reduce this temperature 5 degrees per week. The chicks will tell you if they are not comfortable. Watch for crowding under the heat if they are chilled, and spreading out away from the heat when too warm. Heat bulbs work fine if used correctly. The face of the bulb should be 21-24 inches from the litter. Figure 1-250 watt infra-red heat bulb for 50-75 chicks, 2-3 bulbs for 100-150 chicks, and a 100-150w red bulb should work for below 50 chicks (Keep in mind the size of the brooder, larger brooders might require larger bulbs.. It’s all about keeping the proper temperature)
Feed & Water
Make sure there is food and water available at all times. For egg layers, use medicated chick starter crumbles for the first 10-12 weeks. After that we recommend switching to a meat builder for 4 weeks to maintain the higher protein level, and also to give their body enough time to dissipate all the medication in their system. At around 16-18 weeks you can put them on any of the egg layer feeds that they will be on for the rest of their life. Chick or Hen scratch can be added as a supplemental treat but is not necessary. We recommend adding a little oyster shell to their diet especially for caged birds.
Whether the chicks are housed inside or outside, they need to be kept away from drafts and safe from predators. Figure 1/2 square foot per bird for the first 2 weeks, increase to 1 sq.ft per bird after that. Crowding your birds will NOT save money, it will normally cost you more with higher risk for dehydration and mortality.
Heat lamps will provide light during the starting period. When heat lamps are no longer needed, use a 25-40 watt bulb depending on the number of chicks in the flock. A little light is all that is needed in the pen.
Turkeys, Guineas & Pheasants
These can all be started along the same general lines as chickens. If possible use a gamebird starter (26% protein), if not available then a chick starter should work just fine.
Start all waterfowl much as you do chickens. If duck/goose starter is not available then go to a chick starter. The coccidiostat Amprolium is NOT detrimental to waterfowl. Litter for the waterfowl must be kept dry at all times
Comments are closed