Monday, April 9, 2018

Spring Into Raising Chickens

Baby chicks with tray feeder
Baby Chicks with Tray Feeder

The weather is warming up and the appearance of baby chick in the feed stores signals Spring is here. Chicks are fuzzy, little packages of cuteness, but they are fragile and need a measure of care in their first few weeks of life to grow them to healthy adult stage. Before you bring that adorable birdie home, make sure to have all the elements the baby's home will need before it arrives.

Brooder Box Equipment
A brooder is the first home a chick knows once it is hatched via an incubator. Caging properly is essential to keeping baby chickens safe and comfortable. A naturally hatched bird would be tended by its mother hen and an ideal brooder simulates this condition. A stable temperature and clean bedding means a healthy bird and environment.

Many people use a large cardboard box for a brooder and this can be good if you are around to supervise continually. They can be easy to clean - just throw the soiled area away.

A large plastic tub works well, but would needs air holes drilled every so many inches around the chick's head height. Drill several holes in a succession about five inches from the floor level. Two to three rows should provide adequate ventilation. The lid may be fixed with a window of hardware mesh or left open. Do NOT affix a solid top to the bin. Chicks will suffocate quickly. Clean and replace bedding often.

Pine shreds are ideal small animal bedding.

Provide Adequate Warmth
Until recently, a standard heat lamp bulb was personally used in the brooders. The heat lamp provides steady warmth and light, however, the issue of light 24 hours is not an ideal situation for budding chickens. Comfortable heat without illumination would be preferable. The chicks need a given period of darkness for them to properly rest. A good sleep helps living beings regenerate and heal their tissues and nervous system. It also allows for the body organs to fully flush toxins.

Ceramic bulbs allow for steady heat without light and are safer for a coop or cage. They do not have a heat element or a glass fixture subject to malfunction or fure hazard. Affixing one of these clever bulbs is as easy as screwing a regular bulb in.
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Adjust the exposure by using a thermometer in the rest or heat area. Ideally, cage temps should be slightly higher on one end (95° F) and cooler on the other (89° F) so the tender creatures may adjust as needed. This author places water and feed containers in the cool side so that the warm section has plenty of resting space.

If the chicks are steering away from the warm area, adjust the lamp distance. The area may be too hot. In contrast, if the chicks are huddled together, the area is too cool.

Feeding Young Chicks
Young chicks have a varocious appetite. They consume chick starter it seems almost as fast as you can put it in the feeding trough or dispenser. A good recommendation for feed is one quart sized feeder per 6 birds. This dozen are wiping out their fresh supply in about an hours time. They will let you know when it runs out. Their peeping sounds will get your attention! Medicated feed is not used with this flock. The start and grow is sufficient to sustain them and help keep them fed.

If you have enough room, the strip type container is ideal, but the bottle dispenser is easier to tend to. Keeping several feed bottles ready to go is another advantage of this type of feeder. The tops of the strip type tend to get messy from perching chicks.

Meat type bird will tend to devour feed quickly. They are specially designed by Nature to increase in weight quickly which means a very active appetite. Feed may have to be rationed and birds separated into like groups.

Brooder, Cage, and Coop Sanitation
Keeping a brooder clean is a daily task. Remove droppings often and change bedding every few days as needed. The plastic tub may be sanitized with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. Bleach may be used for disinfecting, but vinegar is easier on the senses and does just as good a job. Leave a light mist on the sides and base of the container after wiping away debris for full disinfection. Allow it to dry naturally. Place birds in a temporarily holding area until this task is completed.

posted from Bloggeroid