Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Annual Chick List

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

It's that time of year again - chicks have been ordered and are arriving any time now.  I know lots of you are old hands at raising chicks, but new readers stop in, so this post may be a refresher, or a good list to have on hand.

My Chick List is as follows:

Chick starter.
Boiled eggs for an extra nutritional boost.
Number 1 grit.
Carbo Vegatabilis homeopathic just in case there are shipping problems.

Wash and sanitize feeders and waterers, and make sure they work!
Inspect heat lamps, have extra on hand.

I make sure the brooder is well bedded, well-rested, and all my supplies are in place, so when the chicks arrive at the post office I am ready for them.

If you're new to raising baby poultry, you're going to be mama, so it's up to you to make sure your brooding area is clean, warm, draft-free, and predator proof.

In addition, heat lamps are a somewhat dangerous way to provide heat, necessary, but caution needs to be exercised.  Many barn and garage fires have resulted from poorly installed heat lamps.  The most dangerous, I think, are the clamp on type.  Sockets for heat lamps can be installed in chick hovers, or you can make sure your lamps are hung securely so there is no chance the hot bulbs can come in touch with the bedding.

Chicks need 90F degree temperatures the first week, and turkey poults need 95F degree temperatures the first week, so any attempt to treat them the same results in too high of temperatures for the chicks and too low for the turkeys.  And ducks fall in somewhere in between those temperatures. 

Let the chicks and their behavior be your guide instead of a thermometer.  If the chicks are huddled under the lights, they are too cold, if they are huddled away from the lights, the heat is too intense.  If they are running about or taking naps you probably have everything just right.  Make adjustments as needed - raise or lower lights, add lights, or turn off a light, check for drafts. 

My rule of thumb is if the chick dies within 72 hours of hatching, it is the hatchery or weak chicks fault, after that I figure it's my fault and I do my trouble-shooting to ascertain the problem so I can make corrections.  The goal is low mortality - if you have high mortality - figure it out and don't blame the chicks.

Raising your own poultry is a rewarding experience and gets easier the more you do it - Happy Chick Raising!