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Raising Chicks

Raising Chicks, Baby Chickens

 Raising Chicks

Chicks are cute little things. They are so cuddly that when you see them in a hatchery or a feed store, there is always that urge to raise chicks. Or, you have collected those eggs, have incubated them and now they are starting to hatch one by one and you are at a loss as to what to do. At any rate, buying or hatching chicks before you know what to do with them is always a bad idea. Raising chicks can be simple, however you must have the knowledge before you begin. You need to prepare for their needs before hand if you want to give them a chance at survival.

If you are hen-hatching and hen-brooding your chicks, you won’t have much of a problem. The mother laying hen will be able to provide the care they need to grow. But if you are raising chicks yourself, you need to take care of them especially for the first 60 days. You have to ensure that they have adequate housing that is kept clean and regulated with the right temperature. Of course, they should always be provided with food and water and be placed in an area free from predators.

You should already have a brooder (your chick’s housing) ready before your chicks arrive. A cardboard box will suffice for short-term use but it’s suggested that you buy a metal or wire brooder. An old aquarium works just as well. The brooder should have side walls at least 12 inches tall to keep the chicks protected from draft.

To provide warmth for the newly hatched chicks, a heat lamp or brooder lamp should be used to provide 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week. Decrease the temperature by about 5 degrees Fahrenheit every week until they are 4 weeks old. You will know if the temperature is just right because the chicks move freely about the space. It’s too cold if they huddle together near the light source and too hot if they are panting and move away from it. Pine shavings on the floor of the brooder further add comfort to the chicks.

Chicks can survive for 24 hours without food. But you should provide water in ample measure. Purchase chick water containers from feed stores since these are designed especially for them. Using other containers can put them at risk for drowning. If the chicks don’t drink, you can dip their beaks in water to stimulate the drinking reflex. You can opt to add multivitamins in water in the following days. Feed them with a pre-mixed commercial feed starter mash. Food should be unlimited in supply and the water provided should always be clean. Vaccinations also start during the first week. Ask your vet for the proper vaccinations that your chicks will need.

Once your chicks have grown feathers (when they are about 5 to 8 weeks old), they can be transferred into a chicken coop. Provide at least 2 to 3 square feet per chicken inside the henhouse and about 4 to 5 square feet for each chicken in the run. Note that if the space is too small for them, feather picking is likely to occur so make sure that you don’t crowd them in a small area..
 

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