Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chick Days — Your Chicks' First Few Days

Chick Days — Your Chicks' First Few Days
So you've just brought home your new baby chicks and you're wondering 'what do I do now?' With questions swirling around you about their care and upkeep, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. Don't panic! Here are some helpful guidelines for getting your fuzzy friends off to a good start.

Here is some basic information on housing and feeding your chicks to make sure you are up to speed on providing optimal care. If you find that you are lacking in these areas of care, be sure to remedy the situation as soon as possible to give your chicks the best chance for success.

  • Gently lift each chick out of their Purina Chick carrier and place them one at a time under the warm brooder.
  • Prevent chicks from chilling or getting too hot! The best measure to determine if the temperature in the brooder is correct is how your chicks behave. If right on target, the chicks will be evenly dispersed. Chicks that huddle together under the heat source are cold and overheated chicks will station themselves around the edges of the box or brooder guard, and may pant. The temperature should be increased or decreased accordingly by raising or lowering the lamps or adjusting the heat source. Day-old chicks prefer an ambient temperature of about 95 degrees. This can be lowered each week by 5 degrees.
  • Dip the beaks of a few chicks into the water. This helps them find it sooner and the others will quickly catch on by watching. When starting turkeys, be extra watchful as they are not as quick to pick up on the mechanics of eating and drinking. You may have to assist them repeatedly before they are reliably eating and drinking.
  • During the first few days, use shallow pans, egg flats or squares of paper as temporary feeders. Small piles of feed placed on them will allow the chicks to find the feed easier and start eating earlier. On the second day, regular feeders can be introduced. Keep feeders full the first week. Feeding area should be big enough to allow all chicks to eat at the same time.
  • Occasionally check your chick for signs of "pasting up". Sometimes their droppings will stick to their rear ends and accumulate to where it blocks their vent and the poor chick can't relieve itself. If you find your chick's rear end is caked up, gently clean the vent area with a warm, soft cloth and warm water. This is usually not a problem after the first week.
  • Provide chicks with 18 hours of light per day for the first week and at least 10 hours per day thereafter (natural light counts). Use dim lights (a 25-watt bulb is fine) as bright lighting can encourage aggression.
  • Never let feed or feeders get wet! Wet feed is a breeding ground for disease and a recipe for disaster!
  • Clean and refill waterers daily or more often if contaminated with feed or litter. Feeders should get a good cleaning weekly and more often if necessary. Each week raise the level of the feeders and waterers to the level of the chicks' backs; this will keep the chicks from defecating and kicking litter into their feed and water.
  • Remove wet or caked litter as necessary and replace with clean, dry litter.
The first few days of a chick's life are critical. It is best to have your brooder set up, temperature properly adjusted, and feed and water ready when your chicks arrive. Supplying a little extra TLC in these important first days will go a long way in giving them the best possible chance for a healthy future.

  • The best protection from disease in chicks is good management and proper sanitation of their environment. Extra effort in this area will go a long way in keeping your chicks healthy. Always keep the premises dry and don't allow exposure to older birds or other animals.
  • Chicks should be vaccinated against poultry diseases common to the area you live in. Chicks are usually vaccinated against Marek's disease at one day of age, so they may have already received this protection at the hatchery. Check with your local veterinarian for vaccination recommendations.
  • Be sure to feed your chicks a complete and balanced diet intended for young chicks like Purina Mills Sunfresh® Recipe Start & Grow® feed. What you feed today will determine how healthy and productive your birds are tomorrow!
  • Don't worry if your chicks seem to be sleeping a lot. Like all baby animals, a majority of their time is spent sleeping and eating
Get to Know Purina® Flock Raiser®
SunFresh® Recipe Poultry Feed
Purina® SunFresh® Recipe Flock Raiser® Poultry Feed takes "natural*" to an entirely new level by using only the freshest, highest quality sun-grown grains and plant proteins. It is a nutrient-rich feed, perfect for a mixed flock of chickens, ducks and geese from hatching until laying age (18 to 20 weeks) and turkeys from 8 to 10 weeks until laying age. Flock Raiser® provides your poultry with the quality nutrients they need to grow and stay strong, healthy and beautiful.

  • SunFresh® Recipe feed—Fresh, natural* plant proteins, FREE of all animal proteins and fats
  • Small, Crumbled Pieces—Waste less feed and ensure proper food intake
  • Superior Nutrition Including Essential Amino Acids—Provide chicks with a strong start, optimal muscle development, uniform growth, and top vigor
  • Vitamins A & E—Support overall health, reproduction, vitality, and a healthy immune system throughout your bird's life
  • Exclusive Level of Marigold Extract—Give your birds brightly colored beaks, shanks, and overall appearance
  • Complete and Balanced—Provides wholesome nutrition for your entire mixed flock with no supplements needed
*with added vitamins, nutrients, and trace minerals