Jun 192013

Chick Care

Once upon a time, a family walked into a local Tractor Supply and heard the musical sound of chicks chirping.

Like millions of people before them, they were filled with wonder at the site of row after row of shiny metal water troughs filled with chicks of many different breeds and colors.

The chicks were so cute and cuddly!  They decided to take some home with them right then and there.

They purchased everything they thought they would need (except a chicken house) for their 14  baby chicks and happily hauled everything home.

I wish I could say that the story had a completely happy ending but it doesn’t.  Like any spur of the moment purchase that millions of people make every single year, they were ill prepared to take care of the chicks they took home that day and many of the chicks paid the price.

The young chicks were small enough to keep in a small rubber made container for about a week and then were moved to a horse water trough.  The chicks continued to grow rapidly and quickly outgrew the bin they were living in.  This is a great family that is very responsible but also very busy and they didn’t realize how quickly the chicks would grow.

They quickly found out that chick care in a space that is too small is a lot of work.   The chicks kept spilling their water and their living area was wet a lot of the time.  The chicks eventually starting hopping out of the water trough they were living in and wandering around outside which was not good.

The search for an affordable chicken coop started in earnest since is was obvious the chicks had outgrown the area they were living in.  But, chicken coops that are pre-made can be very expensive when you need one large enough for 14 chicks.    Eventually, a coop that was built for 6 chicks was selected for their 14 chicks.

The chicken coop was bought and when it arrived, it was assembled quickly.  While the chicken coop was cute, it was cheaply made, poorly designed and is kind of flimsy. It would not take much for a predator to break into the chicken coop and kill all of the chickens.  It is also not going to last for years and years.

The chicks – now almost full grown pullets, were moved into their new quarters. They were happy to have the run of the yard during the day and adapted very quickly to their new living arrangements.

But, they were stuffed into a too small chicken coop at night.  The chicken run was too small for all of the chickens to stand in at one time so they were allowed to roam at will during the day which really wasn’t safe for them.  There is a lot of acreage around and there are a lot of predators looking for an easy meal.

The family took a vacation and had a friend watch all the animals for the week. Unfortunately, one pullet disappeared the second night they were gone.  Then five turned up missing about four days into their trip.  No one was ever able to figure out what happened to the six missing chickens.  There were not signs of any struggles – they simply vanished.

There are five remaining hens and they seem to be doing well.  There is now plenty of room in the chicken coop since it was designed for six chickens.  The last five girls stay close to the house and never venture off too far and so far so good.  The story ends well for the five remaining girls and they are very happy.

Remember, chickens make great pets to have around the yard but they do need some care.  Young chicks are very cute and chick care is pretty easy if you are prepared.   They need to have room to grow and they need to be protected from predators.  It can be very hard to resist buying those cute little chicks when you see them.

Before you buy any chicks, ask yourself:

  • Do I have time to take care of these chicks?
  • Do I have the money to buy what is needed for the care of chicks?
  • Do I have a safe place to keep them protected from predators?
  • Do I know someone that will watch them if I have to leave for a few days?

If you are determined to buy chicks, then make sure you are set up properly to take care of them BEFORE you bring them home.  A little preparation will go a long way towards making this adventure stress free and ensuring you lose less chicks.

Chicken coops are not cheap to buy.  Most of the ready made kits are expensive and are cheaply made. They will not last for years and years which means you will have to replace them all the time.

A better alternative is to find a great design and build one yourself. You can build it to meet your needs and the needs of your chickens. It also costs a lot less to build one yourself and it will last forever if you use quality building materials.

Check out these chicken coop plans. You can take a look at everything for $4.95 for 21 days and if you don’t like it, you won’t pay a penny more. These are great designs and are easy to follow.


Jun 232010

While caring for a flock of chickens is pretty straightforward because they are so self sufficient, chick care is just the opposite.

What can go wrong?

  • Keep them too warm and they will die. 
  • Keep them too cold and they will die.
  • Forget to check them for pasting up and they will die.
  • Keep the chicks in a brooder that isn’t predator proof and they’re going to be killed.

All chicks require plenty of attention, particularly during the first four weeks of life.

As soon as you pick up the shipment of chicks that you ordered through the mail, you need to keep in mind three vital chick care tips that you have to be aware of or your baby chicks may die. 

The three most important things that you need to be concerned about are pasting up, access to water and umbilical cords.

Pasting Up
As soon as you collect your baby chicks from the post office or wherever they were delivered, get them straight home.  The first step in proper chick care is to remove the baby chicks from the box one at a time and inspect their butts for a condition called “pasting up”.  It is very easy to spot as you will notice blackish waste that has become stuck to their butts. The dried up poop covers up their vents and prevents them from being able to poop any more.

This is a very dangerous condition and has to be handled straight away.  I prefer to use a damp, lukewarm washcloth and soak this area to get it to the point that it is soft enough to remove the stuck poop.  In a number of the most severe cases, I have been forced to immerse the chicks’ rear end in water just to get it off.  It is possible to use a tooth pick or anything that is disposable to also help get the balck mess to come off.  I dry the chick off using my hair dryer ( set on low heat to be sure that I don’t injure the baby) and then I put it in the brooder.  Keep a close eye on the entire flock of chicks since this problem can return.

Provide water immediately
The second important chick care tip is that your new baby chicks will need to have water as soon as you have  inspected them and taken care of any pasting up problems that occurred in transit. I don’t take any chances that my baby chicks can’t figure out what to do with the water. Remember, they were plucked from the hatcing box and placed in a box as soon as they were hatched.  They have never seen food or water.

As I place each chick in the brooder for the first time, I gently dunk their beaks into the water source.  They always get the concept very quickly and begin drinking.  Keep a careful eye on them and be sure that all of the chicks have the hang of both eating and drinking.  Do not ever try and force them to drink using a syringe because you will drown them.

Umbilical Cord
The third essential chick care tip is to not be taken aback any time you notice that some of your baby chicks still have their umbilical cords attached.  You may note what looks like a black string which is attached at their butts.  This is very common and will fall off with no help from you.  Do not under any circumstances pull it off orremove it yourself.  It is possible to badly injure your chick by doing this.

The issues discussed are  just three essential chick care tips that everyone needs to be aware of.  Chick care is generally incredibly time consuming during the first four weeks and you’ve got to be able to provide the constant care they need to keep them alive.

Don’t make the mistakes that will cost your chicks their lives.  CLICK HERE to find out more about how to keep your newly hatched chicks alive.

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