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Am getting chicks - what do I need?
19

ifeelloved · 03/05/2012 14:56

Ok I have a cardboard box and some Auboise. Is newspaper ok to line the box with or is this still too sloppy, would a towel be better?

I also have a lamp to keep them warm, a chick water thing and a trough feeder and chick crumb. Also have something to over the top of the box to keep the cat out!

Do I need anything else? What have I forgotten?

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Ohjellybelly · 03/05/2012 15:38

It sounds like you're good to go!

Ensure that your box is large enough for them to move far enough away from the heat source should they get a little warm.

I have found that placing the feeder and drinker on a book or something slightly raised stops them from kicking and flicking the bedding into the feeder/drinker. The chicks have no problem hopping on and off.

What chicks are you getting?

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ifeelloved · 03/05/2012 15:48

Thank you. They're hybrid layers so nothing fancy!

We're getting the. As dds school had eggs in an incubator, have to get them today but really not feeling well and wanted to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything!

Tis a large box, wha tod you think about newspaper or towel? Don't want to get splayed legs? Do I need to get them vaccinated or anything?

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Ohjellybelly · 03/05/2012 15:59

Newspaper is ok, some people use J cloths. I wouldn't use a thick fluffy towel if thats the route you chose to use - a tea towel or two may be ok though.

Vaccinations are a toughy. Vets buy in the vaccinations in bulk to vaccinate large flocks - not really sold seperately. You could contact a farmy type vet and find out when he's next doing bulk vaccinations and see if they can add your few birds in too.

I would though, try and get hold of some medicated chick crumb as this will help to prevent cocci.

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ifeelloved · 03/05/2012 16:04

I have some chick crumb thanks.

I suppose I just want to make sure I'm doing everything I can as our last 2 girls were killed by foxes and I still feel very guilty and don't want to make any mistakes again.

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boomting · 03/05/2012 17:10

I'm covering everything, so it's definitely all been covered IYSWIM!

Really don't go for newspaper. It's too slippy and will lead to splayed legs (a potentially serious, but completely avoidable and, if you know what you're doing, fixable deformity . . . but it's better not to get into that situation in the first place). Kitchen roll will work better. It's best not to give them any other bedding for the first few weeks - they can mistake it for food (I know, not the brightest creatures).

In terms of the cardboard box, it's going to end up filthy very quickly, and I would be petrified of it catching fire. What would be better is a plastic storage box, with a mesh cover (some of that hard chicken wire stuff is good) over the top, to stop them jumping out, which they will be capable of alarmingly quickly, and allow ventilation. If the cat's a worry, then put something heavy (a brick!) on it to weigh it down. Of course, they will need more space, still indoors, after a couple of weeks, so you need to think what you're going to do about that.

You'll also need chick crumbs, and they will have to be fed those for the first 6-8 weeks, then switched to growers pellets until 16-18 weeks old, and then on to layers pellets permanently. A lot of people recommend scattering chick crumbs over an egg tray (or the egg bit of an egg box, if you're going small scale) as it gives them more to find. However, this will need replacing daily for obvious reasons.

They'll also need a proper waterer. It needs to be one of the upright ones, with the water 'tray' bit not so deep that they can climb in (it leads to drowning / hypothermia, again, not the brightest creatures). Ones intended for aviary birds are good, such as npi.petplanet.co.uk/shop_dev/assets/new_product_images/vital/55318.jpg and there's nothing to stop you continuing to use one that size as they grow older.

You'll need a proper heat lamp, with a way to raise and lower it. If they cluster together under the heat lamp, they're too cold, so it needs to be lowered. Spread out against the edges means they're too hot and it needs to be raised. An even distribution of chicks means they're just right. They'll need supplementary heat overnight right up until they're properly feathered out.

Oh - and if they're not sex-linked (i.e. able to be sexed at hatching, based on the colour of the feathers) then a strong stomach / capable farmer friend to dispatch the cockerels!

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ifeelloved · 03/05/2012 20:04

Thanks boom.

I've put a towel down over newspaper with Auboise on that, will change to kitchen towel tomorrow, don't want them eating their bedding!

I've got a cover over the cardboard box (they can already jump quite high!) didn't think of fire, will look into a different box, was worried a plastic one would be too sloppy though (or melt in the heat!)

I've got chick crumb, didn't know about growers pellets but will get some in - thanks. Got the right water container sorted, took me a while to get it right but it's all in now!

They seem to be settled ok with the lamp, they're all huddled together in one corner to the side of the lamp, they do seem to be using the whole box, not clustering under the lamp or trying to get away from it so I think that's ok.

The most alarming is that they're pretty quiet and than all of a sudden they all pipe up and I just worry thinking there must be something wrong, then they're all fine again. They also seem to pant a lot but then just as I'm getting myself worked up that something's wrong they're fine again. God it's like bringing a new baby home all over again!

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ifeelloved · 03/05/2012 20:05

Oh and they're all girls so I'm safe there!

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boomting · 04/05/2012 09:37

To be fair, if they're on a towel then that will be fine, it's just that the washing will be a pain as it will need changing every day.

Keep an eye on the plastic, but I very much doubt it will melt - you'll probably have fried your chicks before that point! It would be too sloppy if you didn't put anything down, but with a towel / kitchen roll you'll be fine.

I'm guessing you don't have a huge number of chicks, so it can be hard to tell distribution at a glance, but if they are happily scratching around under the heat lamp during the day, and not huddling under it at night (when it gets colder) then it sounds fine. You'll need to keep an eye on that situation though, as as they get older they will need less heat, so the heat lamp can be raised, then given only overnight, and then not at all.

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ifeelloved · 04/05/2012 10:06

We have 3 chicks but they seem to use all the box day and night!

Btw, do they ever sleep?!

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boomting · 04/05/2012 16:43

Yes, but in lots of little naps - I've seen them just collapse where they are stood into the land of nod!

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mummymeister · 05/05/2012 13:59

we have chicks every couple of months. DH has used a v large deep black plastic seed tray (about 4ft square) and built a wooden bottom less/topless high side box that fits snugly round it. we line it with v thick newspaper and then when they need cleaning just swap the bottom tray for the spare. we have been raising the light higher for the past 4 weeks and they now are without the light all day and its just on at night with the intention that they go outside at 6 - 8 weeks. our chicks havent slipped over or had any problems. we do find that they poo a lot and need cleaning at least every day.

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Boothie · 05/05/2012 20:37

We have just hand reared four,1 day old chicks (a gold laced poland,white silkie, pekin and a silkie/sussex cross). We put our chicks in a cardboard box in our kitchen. For the first week we placed wood shavings with jay cloths over the top until all four of them were good on their feet.once the chicks could stand without any problems then we changed to newspaper. Be prepared though as they are very noisy and extremely smelly. If your chicks are constantly cheeping(you will hear it two streets away lol) then they are usually too hot or not hot enough. Happy chicks do not cheep constantly. You will also need to change the bedding constantly as they love to tear up the newspaper and they also get very smelly. In the first few days look out for pasted vents, this means if their vents get clogged up with dried poo(can be life threatening). If your chicks have a pasted vent then you need to wash their behinds with tepid water to get rid of the poo and stop a blockage. If you intend to keep your chicks in your kitchen then they only need to be under a heat lamp for 2 weeks. They can go outside after 7 weeks. Ours have just gone outside into a large rabbit hutch and free range in the garden for an hour everyday. They will be left out longer once they are a little older and then when they are 18 weeks old they will go in with our adult hens in the chicken coop and run. Have fun looking after your chicks. They are a pleasure to have and raise. This was our first time raising chicks. Wouldnt do it again in the house as they are too noisy and smelly but its definately been a learning curve for me and my little one.

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ifeelloved · 06/05/2012 11:48

Well was worried for a while as the were making lots of noise, but they're not huddled together but also not liking like they're trying to get away from the heat. They're sleeping again now though!

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ifeelloved · 12/05/2012 10:00

Back again boothie! They're about 2 weeks old now and ive put them in a bigger box as they seemed to be running out of room, however they are now constantly cheeping.

I've been watching them, they're not all huddled together under the lamp or anywhere else but they're also not looking like they're trying to get away from the lamp.

We've put a dish in there full of bedding do that they can scratch around, there's an ld teddy which they seem to enjoy snuggling up to. Fresh water changed regularly and food which I keep topped up.

The only time they seem to be quiet is when I get them out! Unfortunately I can't get them out too much though the cat would love it!

Am I doing anything wrong?!

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boomting · 12/05/2012 16:12

Sounds pretty good to me :)

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ifeelloved · 12/05/2012 18:03

So I don't need to be concerned at the amount of cheeping?

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boomting · 13/05/2012 02:24

Nah, cheeping's pretty standard with chicks - it's just a bit of communication chatter, unless they are obviously alarmed (e.g. when being chased by a cat!)

I'd be worried if they weren't cheeping ;)

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ifeelloved · 13/05/2012 08:35

Thanks for the reassurance, it was just the comment above that said happy chicks do not cheep constantly worried me!

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Lizzabadger · 19/05/2012 19:28

You could maybe start putting some upturned plant pots or little perches in there for them to practise hopping on to.
I think you need to slowly raise the lamp day by day - if you google you will find optimum temperatures for different ages of chicks.

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