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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Baby Chicks FAQ's


Poultry Need: Feed, Water, Heat, Light & Space.

Use a commercial chick starter for the first 8 weeks. On the first day cover the litter with newspaper and spread some feed on the papers and have your feeders full also. This will allow the new birds to find the feed. Use a 2 foot feeder for each 25 chicks. After the first day remove the papers from the starting area. Please refer to the order blank for feed protein levels for the type of poultry you are ordering.

Have a 1 gallon chick waterer for each 50 birds. DIP THE BEAK OF THE CHICK IN THE WATER BEFORE YOU TURN IT LOOSE. For the first 2 days add 3 tablespoons of table sugar to each quart of water for extra energy. For best results, have either Quik Chik, Broiler Booster, or an antibiotic in the water. Your birds will be thirsty when you get them. A taste of water right away helps them to find more water soon. Most baby bird loss is caused because the bird doesn't start to eat or drink. Never let your bird run out of water.

The temperature where the birds are should be 90 to 95 degrees for the first week. Reduce the temperature 5 degrees per week until you get to 70 degrees. Then they shouldn't need any more heat. A good source of heat is a 250 watt bulb. (Red bulbs are better than white. They cause less picking.) Hang it 18 inches from the floor. The temperature directly under the bulb will be higher than 90 degrees but the birds will adjust themselves to the area they like. Use 1 bulb for each 50 chicks in cold weather. Use 1 bulb for each 100 chicks in warm weather.

If you use a heat bulb, this will also serve as the light you need. Otherwise, be sure to give your birds light. Use a 75 watt bulb on dark days. Have a small light for night - 15 watts or similar - to keep them from piling.

SPACE: Try to provide 1/2 square foot per bird at the start. For starting 50 chicks use a draft shield (see below) and make a circle about 5 to 6 feet across. For 100 birds, make the circle 7 to 8 feet across.


Cardboard put in a circle about 12 inches high around the birds helps cut down drafts on the floor. Be sure the circle is large enough to allow the birds to get away from the heat if they want to.

 Wood shavings, rice hulls, or ground cobs make good litter. Do not use cedar chips,sawdust (It is too small and the birds may eat it instead of their food), or treated wood chips. Sand, straw, or dirt will also work but are not as good as the others. Put the litter all over the floor at least 1 inch thick. Keep it covered for the first day with newspapers to keep the chicks from eating the litter instead of the feed. To avoid possible leg problems, remove the papers after the first day for heavy breeds and meat birds and after the third day for lighter breeds.

Starting the 3rd day sprinkle baby grit on the feed daily as if you were salting your food. Avoid putting too much at any one time as the bird may fill up on it instead of the feed.

 Baby birds will often pick each other if they are too hot, too crowded,or without fresh air. Occasionally bright light also causes them to pick. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to picking. Sometimes, however, they pick for no apparent reason. To stop it try putting in fresh green grass clippings several times a day and darken the room. As a last resort, debeaking might have to be done. Try cutting off about one-third of the top bill. Do not cut the lower bill, just the top one. To treat birds that have been picked, smear pine tar or black grease on the injured area.


 Instead of using the standard feed and water suggestions listed, try this: Put 6 more tablespoons of sugar in each gallon of water. Then mix some of this extra sweet water with some of your feed to make a soupy mix. Give your birds this special feed and water mix for 3 to 4 days to get them over the effects of shipping.

Sometimes the stress of shipping causes the manure to stick to the back of the bird. It is important to remove this daily. Pull off gently or, better yet, wash off with a cloth and warm water. It will disappear in a few days as the bird starts to grow.

1.Increase floor area to 3/4 square feet per bird.
2.Increase feeders to provide 2-1/2" to 3" of space per bird.
3.Increase waterers to one 5-gallon fount per 100 birds.
4.Make sure grit hopper is filled with proper sized grit. Check with your feed man.
5.Install roosts at back of brooder area. Allow four inches per bird with roost poles six inches apart.
6.Open windows in day-time. Leave only partly open at night.
7.Prevent water puddles around founts. Place founts on low wire platforms.
8.Birds can range outside on warm, sunny days, but only if clean range is available.

Original Post:

More How to Care for Baby Chicks  FAQ's

My birds are pecking at each other.  How do I stop them from pecking?

Make sure the birds are not overcrowding each other.  Also stress, feed deficiencies, illness and boredom all cause feather pecking.  Add grass clippings or leafy alfalfa hay to the pen to eliminate boredom.  If this does not work, you may try an anti-pick spray or anti-pick device which fits over the beak.
Can I have the beaks trimmed on the baby chicks?

We do not offer beak trimming service for the simple fact that the beak will grow back if the procedure is performed on birds under 6 weeks old.  If you decide to have the beaks trimmed we recommend having it done before the birds start to lay.
When will my hens start laying eggs?

It varies from breed to breed.  Some breeds will start to lay as early as 17 weeks old and other breeds may take up to 30 weeks before they start to lay.
Do you recommend the Marek's Vaccination?

Yes! It is a good idea to have them vaccinated as it helps build up their antibodies. A single vaccination confers lifelong immunity, but is not 100% foolproof.  About 5% of the chickens vaccinated can still get the disease anyway.

What is Marek's Disease and how do I control the disease?
Marek’s is a widespread disease affecting domestic chickens in all sections of the world. It is characterized by lesions affecting the nervous system, organs, and other tissues. Young chickens under 16 weeks of age are most susceptible. There is no treatment for Marek’s once the birds are infected. Chicks must be vaccinated as close to the time of hatch as possible for the vaccine to be effective. Some hackeries vaccinate all of their own breeding stock and strongly feel that you should do the same. Vaccinating your birds for Marek's is another appropriate step in strong poultry management. Don’t take any chances. When offered vaccinate your chicks prior to shipment of your order. Don’t forget to mark your order blank in the appropriate location for vaccination.

Vaccinations are offered by  and  and when requested at the time of ordering your new chicks

Should I medicate my birds for worms right away?

You can do it before they start laying, but if you medicate them after they start laying, you must wait 30 days after treatment before you can use the eggs.
How much light do my birds need once they begin to lay eggs?

For maximum egg production, it is recommended that hens get 14 hours of continuous light each day.  They need periods of darkness as well.  It is best to monitor the amount of light they receive with a timer set to turn on and off consistently at the same time every day.
How do I get my chickens to lay in the nest box and not on the floor?

In order to coax your chickens to use the nest box, it should be located 18 to 20 inches from the floor.  Also, try to eliminate any dark corners as they like to hide in dark spots to feel protected while laying an egg.
How many nest holes do I need for my hens?

Figure on about 7 hens per nest box hole.
What is causing my chickens to loose their feathers?

Chickens go through a normal molting stage at about 18 months old.  This molting period usually lasts for 3 to 4 months.  Egg production will cease during the molting period, but will resume at a slower rate after the birds end molting.


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