Birds

How to Raise Baby Chicks



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"How to Raise Baby Chicks"
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Raising chicks is tricky and few people are lucky enough to have a 100% success rate. There are all kinds of things that can go wrong with incubation of the eggs, hatching, and in the first few days. Knowing how to raise chicks correctly is very important to their survival.

Hatching Eggs

There are two ways of hatching chicken eggs, the easiest is with a broody hen; a hen that sits on the eggs until they hatch and teaches the chicks how to eat, and will keep them warm in general. The other method is with an incubator.

There are many styles of incubators, some turn the eggs for you, in others you must turn the eggs yourself, at least twice a day, stopping two days before they are due to hatch. The incubator must have a steady temperature at 99.5 F. Humidity should be about 50% for the first two weeks and increased to 75% for the final days. The large end of the egg needs to be slightly higher than the smaller end. It takes chicken eggs 21-22 days to hatch.

Brooding

Once hatched, the chicks need to be kept in a brooder (or with the hen if hatched by a hen). The brooder is a small area that is kept warm with a heat lamp. If the lamp is too high the chicks will cluster under it to be warm, if the lamp is too low the chicks will move away from it. When set just right the chicks will move freely around the brooder. They need to have chick starter ration, which is a very small crumble, and should be fed this free choice out of a chick feeder that will keep the food dry and clean. The chicks also need to have access to water from a proper chick waterer, one that will keep the water clean and prevent the chicks from falling into it and drowning.

The brooder should be bedded with wood shavings (not cedar), or straw. It is of the utmost importance the bedding remains clean and dry. Dampness is real concern in chicks and even full grown birds.

As the chicks get larger they can have a larger area, but still require heat for the first 30 to 60 days depending on the climate. The heat lamp can be raised as the chicks grow, as their needs for warmth are reduced with age.

Chick starter feeds come in medicated forms, and non-medicated, the medicated one being a good protection against diseases that are common in birds. If a person is getting their chicks vaccinated they may opt for the other feed after vaccination.

The chicks can be fed small amounts of chicken scratch at 30 days of age, and can even be given treats at this time, such as small pieces of banana, or dandelion greens. At 60 days they may be large enough they can be put outside into a chicken run and coop. Most hens will start laying at around 5 months of age, and roosters will start crowing before this.

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