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Chicks in brooder not eating yet. Techniques? Natural foods suggestions?

 
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So five chick from the incubator went into the homemade brooder yesterday evening.  They seem happy and relaxed and are burbling away but they are not coming out of the Mama Chicken* for food and water as I would expect.

Every half an hour or so I see them appear, wander around a bit, peck a little and then go straight back into Mama Chicken.  Do you think this is a problem?

It has been a few years since I've had incubator chicks in a brooder but from memory, they figured out the food and water almost right away when pointed in the right direction and they were incredibly hungry right out of the incubator and took to anything I showed them.  

I don't have any grown chickens right now to help.  

I have dipped their beaks in the water but I have not seen them use it since.

Usually I feed soaked chopped up rolled oats, corn and greens to new chicks plus a little hardboiled but these guys are not really interested. They have cut grass, seed-heads and other wild greens in the brooder as I've done before but they don't particularly interested in those either.  

Any ideas?    


[size=9]*I have an off grid Mama Chicken which is a cardboard box with a cut out for a milk jug full of hot water wrapped in a towel.  The whole "Chicken" is covered with a heavy duty towel with a fringe cut at the front which hangs over the doorway.  This is a permies idea and it works really well.   [/size]
 
pollinator
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I would make sure the area they need to go out to eat and drink is warm enough.  If they get cold, they may run back to warmth without eating or drinking.
 
Sarah Elizabeth
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Thanks Trace.  I will check that now.  
 
pollinator
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How old are they?  Chicks can survive just fine without food or water for the first couple days as they absorb the remains of the yolk.

And, as mentioned, make sure the food/water area is warm enough.  95F is what they need to be comfortable at this stage.
 
pollinator
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Have you shown them where it is? I have a real mama chicken right now and she has to show them where to eat and drink from. Whenever we get chicks I always physically show them where stuff is so they use it.
 
Sarah Elizabeth
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Thanks for the reminder that chicks are OK for the first couple of days without food and water.  They have still only been in the brooder for 24 hours so far.

I am relieved to hear that real hens sometimes have to show them a few times..

Progress so far:

1. The temperature differential between the "Mama Chicken" and the rest of the brooder seems to have been an issue.  I used a brooder plate before which gives more even heat. I have warmed up the rest of the brooder and they definitely like that.  

2.  I dipped their beaks in the water when they first went into the brooder. I've done it a couple more times now. I smeared some food on a piece of cardboard and they seem to get that.  The smartest chick is starting to show the others.  They seem to want their food in really microscopic sized pieces and I have tried to give them a contrast between the food and the background. They are intimidated by some types of trays and plates.  


More updates to come.

 
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