Make sure that you have heat lamps ready and a warm brooder area, prepared before hand.
Brooding and Raising Poultry
NEVER introduce chicks into a cold brooder, which has not been prewarmed.
Chicks require clean water, the appropriate feed, and appropriate bedding.
DO NOT use ice cold water, instead, fill waterers before placing chicks, so that water is room temperature when placing chicks. Using cold water can chill young chicks.
Feeding and Nutrition Recommendations By Category
Require a 20-22% protein mash broiler chick starter feed. Feed this for the first 4 weeks, if using organic/non-gmo feed, or for the first 2 weeks, if using conventional feed, then switch to a broiler grower feed. If using organic/non GMO/ no corn, no soy feed, keep feed out 24/7. If using conventional feed, restrict access to feed, for 12 hours each day, to regulate growth rates.
Freedom Ranger, Red Ranger Broilers and White Bantam Silkie Broilers:
Require a 20-22% protein mash broiler chick starter feed. Feed this for the first 4 weeks, then switch to a broiler grower feed. It is not necessary to restrict feed. We recommend keeping feed available to the chicks 24/7.
Require a specific layer chick starter as well. Most layer starter feeds contain 18-20% protein, feed this for 8 weeks, then switch to a layer feed, which will be higher in calcium to promote egg production once the pullets reach sexual maturity.
Require a 28% or higher, protein mash starter feed. Feed the turkey starter for the first 6-8 weeks, then switch to a turkey grower feed, with a crude protein level of 22%. Feed this until the poults are 12 weeks old, then switch to a 19% protein feed until the poults are 16 weeks old, then move to a 16% protein feed to maintain weight until processing.
Ducks intended for general purposes or egg production should follow this schedule:
Always give ducklings access to water for at least an hour before feeding. We recommend always using a chick starter with 20% + protein for the first 10 weeks, switching to a 15% grower weeks 10-18, and a 16% layer after 18 weeks.
Ducks intendented for meat production should follow this schedule:
Always give ducklings access to water for at least an hour before feeding. We recommend using a chick starter with 20% + protein for the entire growout period, usually 7-7.5 weeks for Hybrid Jumbo Pekins, and 12-14 weeks for Khaki Campbells.
BROODING DO's AND DONT'S
DO NOT expose chicks to air drafts, as they can get chilled. Never brood chicks on exposed concrete or cold/slippery surfaces.
DO use Pine shavings, or some type of wood shavings, work best, as they provide cushion, support, and insulation from the cold ground. Make sure to ALWAYS use clean shavings before placing chicks.
NEVER reuse bedding.
DO ensure the room that the chicks are brooded in is 75-80 degrees, however, the brooding area must be at 90-95 degrees to start.
DO ensure that the temperature directly underneath the brooder lamp/ heat source, is 95 degrees, during the winter, and 90 degrees during warmer parts of the year.This can be decreased 5 degrees per week, for broilers, and 1-2 degrees per week for all other breeds, until the ambient temperature of 70 to 75 degrees is reached.
The most common cause of early chick loss is incorrect brooder temperature.
REMEMBER, chicks as day olds are very similar to snakes or other reptiles, in that they cannot fully self regulate their body temperature for at least 3 to 4 weeks.
You are providing the source for the chicks' internal temperature.
As chicks get older, they do need less heat, so please refer to the temperature chart for approximate temperature settings.
Overheated chicks will spread out their wings and lay prostrate, and may pant. If you see this, raise your heatlamp to decrease the brooder temperature.
If chicks are cold, they will chirp loudly, and will huddle together with other chicks, or if they are by themselves, will shiver and shudder.
Gently picking up a chick and holding its feet to the palm of your hand is a quick way to gauge temperature. Cold feet indicate chilled chicks.
At night, you will need to adjust the temperature in the brooder, this can be done by increasing or decreasing the distance between the heat source and the chicks.
DO NOT brood in areas with square corners, instead, use cardboard, or other materials to round the corners in the brooder. Square corners can cause chicks to pile up on each other when the brooder temperature is inadequate. Round corners allow chicks to escape from being piled on, and direct wandering chicks back to feed, water, and heat.
If you notice deceased chicks in the morning, the number one cause of this type of chick loss is the brooding area temperature fluctuating too much during the night, causing chick piling, and ultimately, chick loss.
DO keep track of temperature, and watch your chicks frequently.
We recommend keeping two thermometers within your brooder, one in the warmest area, and one in the coolest area. Record temperatures at least 3 times per day if possible. An alternative to this, is to use a cheap temperature recorder, which can keep track of brooder temperature even when you are not near the brooder. Most cheap temperature recorders can be purchased on Amazon or other online sites for $20-40.
As day olds, chick do not require much space, in fact, too much space can cause chicks to wander away from the heat source, and then become chilled, which may cause chick loss.
DO use a brooder guard or "brooder corral" to keep chicks within a comfortable distance of heat, food and water. As chick grow and mature, this area will need to be expanded.
Always introduce chicks to water before feed, and dip the beaks of several chicks to show other chicks where they can find water.
DO NOT attempt to substitute a chick starter feed with anything else. Chicks require a properly formulated started feed. Do not use cooked eggs, table scraps or scratch as a substitution for a proper feed. These can be added in moderation later, but should NEVER be used in place of starter feed.
With turkey poults, sometimes using marbles in the waterers can prevent drowning. Be sure to sanitize marbles before placing them in the water.
DO use proper sanitation procedures.
Before and after handing or working near your chicks, wash your hands. Chicks can carry bacteria which can be harmful to humans if ingested, and humans can introduce bacteria which can be detrimental to chick health.
DO make sure that chicks can escape the intense heat of the heat lamp, if they get overheated.
OBSERVE your chicks. If they are too warm, they will spread away from the heat lamp, usually near the corners of the brooding area. If they are too cold, they will all be huddled directly underneath the heat lamp.
LISTEN to your chicks. While chirping is normal, excessively loud chicks, are typically stressed chicks.
Check to make sure that chicks are not too warm or too cold. Over time you will decrease the amount of heat.
RECORD when changes in temperature are made or observed.
Use non-pasteurized apple cider vinegar as a preventative measure to ensure and promote good chick gut health and help replace electrolytes lost during shipping, due to shipping stress. 1 table spoon per gallon of water is typically adequate. This can improve chick vigor and overall chick quality dramatically.
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