Temperature / Shelter
Temperature is vital to the survival of small chicks. They will need a heat source and a breeze barrier to help stabilize their environment. Monitor temperature with a thermometer at the level of the chicks. Chicks that huddle under a lamp are too cold. Chicks that sprawl along the brooder guard are too hot. Chicks happily milling around all portions of the brooder area are comfortable.
Brooding area should be 95°F for the first few days. Slowly acclimate your chicks to a cooler temperature by reducing each week:
95°F for chicks 0 - 1 week old
90°F for chicks 1 - 2 weeks old
85°F for chicks 2 - 3 weeks old
80°F for chicks 3- 4 weeks old
70°F - 75°F for chicks 4 - 5 weeks old
The ideal temperature for all pullets and hens is between 65°F - 70°F.
For pullets 5 - 7 weeks old, introduce to outside when temps are above 60°F.
For pullets 8 - 10 weeks old, allow to acclimate outside when temps are above 50°F
For pullets 11 - 15 weeks old, allow to acclimate outside when temps are above 40°F
For pullets 16 weeks to hen age, okay to be outside in all temps with adequate shelter provided.
Dampness is a mortal enemy to chicks, resulting in chilling and encouraging bacteria growth leading to illnesses such as coccidiosis. Pine wood shavings is a common bedding material in homemade brooder systems. Do not use cedar shavings, as the fumes can be fatal to chicks. Take the mess out of raising chicks by renting or purchasing our professional brooder.
Ensure chicks have free range to eat as much as they want. Never let their food run out. Sprinkle grit on their food like you would to salt a dish. Chickens consume their food in whole and their gizzards need sand or grit to process the food. They will consume about a 1lb a week. We offer an organic mix chicken cereal. We roll mill the whole grains and seeds daily. We start with the same whole grains and seeds we sprout for our starter pullets and hens and add 17 herbs that are known to support early chick development. I like being able to know every ingredient that has gone into our chick food as we plan to consume their eggs. Most commercial pellets stink and contain fish meal as the main protein source. Our chicken cereal has a delicious nutty herb aroma.
Waterers should be tall enough that the chicks do not walk in their water and not too deep to risk drowning. Dip the beaks of several chicks into the water to help them locate it. They will teach the rest. When you first get them home, you can add molasses or honey to their water to help increase the electrolytes. Make sure water is clean. Dirty water is the #1 source of illness.
Poop dries and sticks to the vent preventing future excretions. Use warm water to remove. For frequent pasty butt, mixed in liquid (milk, water, apple juice) or egg with our chick cereal to make a nice meal with warm oatmeal consistency. Make sure they are drinking lots of water and temperature is appropriate for age. Stress is the most common cause of pasty butt.