The brooding place is ready. All things are set. And you are waiting for the baby’s arrival. Upon anticipating the “big day” of arrival, you must be ready!
Here’s what to do when the chicks arrive…especially if you did not have the babies hatched under a broody hen.
If the chicks arrived from a mail order, take precautions. Generally, the chicks arrive in good condition (they survive for up to 3-4 days, by absorbing the yolk from their eggs). If you noticed that the babies arrived in poor condition, tell the postal employees. Certify that the shipment arrived in good condition, and advise the hatchery if there is any problem.
Before putting the babies inside, the brooder must be set to 90 degrees. Make sure the area is warm and maintain this temperature for a week. You can reduce the temperature for 5 degrees every week. After the first five weeks, the poultry will no longer require the heat supplement unless it is cool in your area.
Lift each chick and be sure they are not pasting up (do this ever day for the first few days). Pasting up refers to the baby having poop stuck to its little rear end feathers. Carefully remove this with a soft tissue dampened with warm water. Pasting up can be fatal to the chicks.
Carefully dip each beak into the water. Paper towels should be spread on the floor and the chick starter feed sprinkled around on this.
There should be enough space for the chicks to move so that they can interact freely and can meander to or from the source of heat. Peeping loudly and earnestly signals a problem. The babies may need more food or water or they are too hot or too cold.
• Chicks gathered tightly under the heat source are too cold.
• Chicks tucked away from the heat source are too warm!
Fill the chick sized waterers (be certain your waterer is shallow. Chicks will drown!) with fresh clean water. Change this daily and every time it gets soiled.
Do not use pine shavings until the chicks are about 3 weeks old. Use a paper towel for the first week. Switch to shredded pet bedding for the next two weeks after. Bedding must be changed frequently. Chicks must be kept clean!
• Never use cedar shavings.
Do not allow pets or children to handle the chicks. Children should be supervised, as the chicks are very delicate. Keep chicks in a safe and warm area.
Keep an eye on the baby birds. These little puffs grow quickly. Monitor their growth and watch carefully for any issues that could arise. One serious problem involves leg development. A chick that is splay legged and unable to stand must be helped immediately. Carefully take some bandage tape and wrap this around the legs to hold them at the proper distance. The tape acts like a brace. If you suspect a chick has a slipped tendon immediately bring him or her to a vet. This is a serious issue that is reversible if treated immediately – chicks grow so quickly, that the tendon can create a bad situation in as little as a few days. A slipped tendon can leave a bird with a serious deformity that cannot be reversed.
Raise those babies right! Happy cooping!