Feathered Obsessions
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Raising Chicks

Have the brooder ready before the chicks hatch or you bring them home
For newly hatched chicks the brooder should be at 90º
•Decrease Tempurature 5º a week till room temp
Ground Game Bird Crumble / Turkey Starter cornmeal size for the newly hatched chicks
Use a waterer that chicks cant get wet easily in
•4-6 weeks Male plummage will begin showing
•At 12 weeks they have much of their adult feathering but will molt and change over the first year

 Before your chicks hatch you will want to have your brooder setup. The brooder should be a solid bottom container that will not allow the tiny chicks to escape. The bottom of the brooder should be slip resistant. If the young chicks can not gain their footing it can cause splayed legs when the hips dislocate and grow incorrectly. Newspaper is something you will want to avoid as chicks have a hard time gaining footing on it. You can use many things to line the bottom including shelf liner and pine shavings.  


The brooder will need a heat source. Many types of brooders a standard light bulb will suffice. You can use higher wattage and lower the wattage as the chicks age and need less heat or you can move the light higher and higher away from the chicks as well.  The bottom of the brooder should be around 90º when you move the chicks from the incubator. When measuring the temperature you want to keep the thermometer at the same level the chicks are at.  With every week the chicks age you want to drop the temperature another 5 degrees till the chicks are feathered and comfortable at room temperature.





 When the chicks hatch they are incredibly small. It is very easy for a small little bird to fall into waterer and drown. You want to make sure that the waterer you use is designed so that the chicks can't get their bodies in the water yet can still dip their beaks into it to get a drink. One of the easiest ways is to add glass marbles into the water dish. The marbles make crevasses that the chicks can get their beaks in but not their body. The color of the marbles can even attract the chicks attention to help get them started with drinking better. Also, make sure the edge of the waterer isn't taller than the chicks. If they can't reach in to get the water they can still dehydrate. When the first are moved to the brooder you want to be aware if they have found the water over the next few hours. Their small size enables them to dehydrate very quickly. If you think the chicks are not drinking you might try to lead them to the water by tapping at the water like a bird would either with a finger or possibly a toothpick. This may gain their interest to try what you are doing as well. In most cases if one has found the water the rest will follow.

 For these fast growing chicks you will want to feed them high protein foods such as game bird crumble and turkey starters. The high protein in these foods enables the chicks to reach their full potential as they grow very rapidly. Feeding chicks treats and finch seed is not needed until they are a few weeks old. Treats and finch seed will fill the chick with food that is lower in protein and higher fats. It is better to fill their bellies with the nutrient rich , high protein food that is complete and all they need to flourish. When feeding these foods verify that it is small enough for the chicks to eat. If the food is too large for the chick to eat the chick can still starve even though the feeder is full. It maybe neccessary for you to grind the food in a blender or coffee grinder to the size of cornmeal before feeding it to the chicks.


These tiny little chicks grow at a rapid speed. It always amazes me how fast such tiny birds grow and change.  We have included some growth progressions pictures on our "watch me grow" pages.   Within just a few weeks you will be amazed at the incredible rate of growth. They will begin to feather out and in just days you won't recognise the chick that hatched. Around 4-6 weeks, though sometimes later, you may even start seeing signs of male plumage.

If you had a single chick hatch it may chirp and constantly look for other chicks. You can try to add a stuffed animal or feather duster to comfort the chick. Feather dusters can give the chick a fluffy hiding place to feel more at home. If using a feather duster make sure it is hanging off of the floor and that it stays clean. You want to try and avoid the chick becoming trapped if the feathers have become dirty and stuck together. If using a stuffed toy make sure there are no loose strings for the chick to tangle up in.





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