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New chicks!

 
John Brownlee
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We just got the first chicks we have ever raised today. We got a dozen birds, of several different varieties, they are 1 - 2 weeks old. They all seem really healthy, the woman we bought them from is a chicken fanatic.
Just a few questions.
The brooder I made is about 16 ft square, how long should I keep them there?
How do I know when to change the bedding?
How long should I be adding electrolytes to their water?
When can I begin to feed them greenery from the yard? ( Chickweed,
henbit, dandelions)
Any info would be much appreciated!
IMG_20130301_161912.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20130301_161912.jpg]
 
Isaamy Lee
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wow so cute!
 
John Brownlee
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One more question. I don't think the chicks slept at all last night. Is the light that I have maybe too bright and keeping them awake?
 
Jay Green
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If they didn't sleep, they are too cold. 16 sq. ft for 12 chicks may be too large an area. Make it smaller for now and expand it as they grow and feather out. Cut down on the total area and monitor the height of your heat lamp....lower if they are too cold, higher if they are avoiding the area directly under the lamp. There should be enough space in the brooder where they can escape from the warm areas but not so much that the lamp cannot heat the brooder. Adding a top to your brooder will also help conserve heat at night but make sure to leave one portion uncovered to allow air to flow/escape.

You'll know when you need to change out bedding, just by visually seeing the amount of fecal material, if the chicks are getting/staying dirty, the smell, etc. Most oldsters don't change bedding, only add more dry material.

I wouldn't be adding greenery from the yard...chickens graze by snipping off tips of greens and they can only do this if the plant is anchored to the ground. When you just throw in clippings, you run the risk of having impacted crops, and gizzards that have no grit yet for grinding the tough cellulose strands found in greens.

I'm wondering if you could get help and instruction from your source of chicks? It's hard to learn chicks on the fly from the internet if you have no practical experience with poultry.

Can't really give electrolytes too often or too long....I'm still adding ACV to the water of my flock and they are 3-5 yr old birds.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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I have my brooder light set up on a timer because I'm off grid. They do tend to go to sleep when the light shuts off (assuming the temp it OK). When the light comes back on they all wake up.
 
Jay Green
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John Brownlee wrote:One more question. I don't think the chicks slept at all last night. Is the light that I have maybe too bright and keeping them awake?


Are you using a red light/heat lamp? These shouldn't be too bright or keep chicks awake at all.
 
John Brownlee
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No I am using a white bulb. It's the one the lady I got the chicks from recommended.

They certainly don't seem cold, they are not all huddled together under the light. Nor Are they avoiding the light. They seem really active, running around chasing each other, flapping from 1 side of the brooder to the other.
Already this morning we have had to add about 8 inches of height to the sides and a lip so that they can't perch on the side of the brooder.

So far today I have caught them napping several times, Usually in groups of 2 or 3 spaced out around the whole brooder.

At this age with the lamp on 24-7 do they just nap when tired and eat the rest of the time? Or should they be sleeping through the night?
 
Jay Green
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At this age and with a light on all the time, they will nap when they get tired. If no light, they have to remain immobile for the simple reason that they cannot see in the dark. What are you using for a brooder? If you are already adding height, it seems it won't be deep enough. If you don't wish to build up, you might consider placing a wire lid on the whole affair.

If they seem comfortable and are not all cheeping constantly, seem to be able to nap comfortably, then they probably have enough warmth. The red lights are used to provide warmth without adding stimulus to stay active....in other words, they will rest better with a red lamp. I've used a regular bulb before and it was just fine, so no harm, no fowl...hee, hee.
 
John Brownlee
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I made a brooder out of cardboard with sides about 16 inches high.
The source that I used for the specifications said to allow two square feet per chicken and sides at least 12 inches.
Since my chicks were not day old hatchlings they already learned to jump and flutter a little bit up on to the side of the box.
We were concerned about cold so we laid a piece of cardboard and a towel over top, with a few openings to allow for air movement. That seems to get the temperature just right.
 
Kitty Hudson
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Location: SW KY--out in the sticks in zone 6.
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As for greenery, I put a clump of sod in the brooder box with mine last year--that way the plants were in there soil, roots and all. The 'kids' loved it and ate it bare rapidly. The clump of dirt got tossed back outside and another clump brought in. Didn't have a single case of impacted crop until 4 weeks AFTER the birds were moved outside.
 
John Brownlee
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Alright, my sister who has raised chickens before, said that my chicks poop is too runny, and that I need to use an antibiotic to correct it. I am more of the opinion that I MIGHT use an antibiotic to save an animal's life. Is this really a problem, and if so what can I do to correct it?
 
Jay Green
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Try using apple cider vinegar in the water....been using it for years and never had a chick with pasty butt. Even better if you use mother vinegar. You can also culture their bowels with mash soaked in buttermilk but it's just easier all the way around to use the ACV.
 
John Brownlee
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Hey Jay thanks for all your help!
What is the ratio for apple cider vinegar and water?
 
Jay Green
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I never really measured, just used a mother's intuition, but those who like precision like to advise 1 Tbs. per qt of water. Me? I use a single "glorp"~ as opposed to a "glug" or two that I use in the larger waterer for the chickens. I'm thinking that my glorp is probably a tad over a Tbs.
 
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