With Purina Dealer's Chick Days program going on across the country, it's easier than ever to start or add to your flock. Having all the necessary equipment and supplies on hand before picking up your chicks will make the process much easier. Be prepared when bringing home your chicks by following these simple tips.
New Chick Equipment
Heat lamps and/or brooder stove
Litter and/or shavings
Pitchfork or shovel (for large areas)
Egg flats or shallow pans
40-watt light bulbs
SunFresh® Recipe Feed
New Chick Housing
The first home for a chick is a brooder. Chicks should be kept indoors or in a heated brooder until they have their feathers (5 to 8 weeks old) and should not be housed with older birds. Your chicks' brooder should be warm, dry, easy to clean and ventilated but not drafty. Some easy to find options include cages for rabbits, guinea pigs or even aquariums.
To warm a small number of chicks with heat lamps, place them about 20 inches above the flock, however, for a larger group of birds in a large room such as a shed or a garage use a supplemental heat source like a brooder stove.
Clean and disinfect the brooder and other equipment, a few days before you pick up your chicks, so it will have time to completely dry because dampness can result in chilling and increase the risk of disease in your chicks. Once the brooder is dry, place four to six inches of dry wood shavings or a commercial absorbent litter material on the floor.
About 24 hours before your chicks arrive adjust the brooder stove and/or heat lamps and make sure the temperature is at 90°F. Chicks can become overheated, which can be as dangerous as getting chilled. A thermometer can be helpful, but watching your chicks' behavior will tell you if you need to adjust the heat. If your chicks are huddled under the lamp they are too cold and if your chicks are sprawled away from the lamp then the temperature may be too hot. If your chicks are moving around in all parts of the brooder area they are comfortable. The temperature can be gradually reduced 5°F per week to a minimum of 55°F.
New Chick Feed
Fill feeders and waterers with SunFresh® Recipe feed and water. By placing them around the edges of your chicks' comfort zone it will keep the water and feed from getting too hot and will keep them cleaner, since chicks under the warmth source could kick bedding and feces into them.
On the first day your chicks come home, feeders should be clean egg flats, shallow pans or simple squares of paper with small piles of feed on them so it's easily accessible. Once the chicks learn to eat from the flat feeders you can put proper feeders in. Waterers should be emptied, scrubbed, rinsed and refilled daily. Wet litter around the water should also be removed daily.
As your chicks grow, adjust the height of the feeders and waterers to the height of the back of a standing bird.
Whether picking your chicks up or having them delivered, the transportation process can be quite stressful on the birds. This stress can cause a condition called pasting up — when feces builds up on a chick's vent, preventing them from releasing additional waste. Check your chicks daily and remove any feces with a warm wet cloth to prevent them from getting backed up.
For more help raising your chicks visit www.purinamills.com/newchick and register your chick to receive a free monthly e-newsletter that offers tips corresponding to each month of your chicks' lives.