tips & tricks to taking home baby chicks

6/07/2016

 

If you missed the news our family added baby chickens to our family this year. This is our first time having chickens and I soaked up all the knowledge I could. My bedside table is full of books on raising chickens, I spent hours talking to the girl at the country store, and I have been looking on Pinterest every chance I get. But that didn't stop us from running into a few issues. So here is some of the best advice I have received and things I have learned along the way if you plan on adding chicks to your family.




Lets start with where to store the brooder. I thought the garage would be a safe and warm enough environment. I was wrong. While it was safe for them to be in the garage we could only get the heat in the brooder up to 80 degrees during the day, which means it was getting cooler at night. We thought although it was on the low side of what was suggested it would be warm enough, WRONG.
The next day the chicks had "pasty butt" which is basically poop collecting on their butt. By the end of the day it was super bad. I quickly went to an online forum for advice and they promptly informed me Pasty Butt could quickly kill them, but it was also a sign of stress from them most likely being to cold.
First we brought the brooder inside and set it up on the counter. It was then running about 90 to 100 degrees and the chicks were much happier. From there we moved it down 5 degrees a week until it is cool enough we can move them back into the garage.
Second we dealt with their Pasty Butt. This cannot be simply picked off as it can cause harm to their skin. I filled a shallow pan with warm water and one by one I placed the chicks bum in the water. They relaxed and just let me sit there, it was seriously so cute. Anyways then I took a paper towel and wiped their butt. It took a few times but it eventually fell off. Meanwhile the only thought going through my head was, am I seriously doing this? When we got our second batch of chicks it was much later in the season and far warmer. These chicks were able to go into the garage and stay there.

There is also the option to give chicks and chickens probiotics and/or vitamins. In the first week of life a baby chick doesnt have a strong population of good bacteria. This means they can get sick very easily from say bacteria in their food, watering dish, brooder, etc. We decided to add a mixture of vitamins and probiotics with their drinking water as a precautionary measure.

This may sound silly but give your chicks some entertainment. We made little roosting bars for them to perch on, filled a tin pie pan with dirt for them to take dust baths in, and gave them a mirror to look at themselves in. There are tons of different ideas online.

All our babies are outside in the big coop now and I'm not going to lie I have grown pretty attached. They are fun animals to have and I love watching all their personalities. So far they have been super easy to care for and we are preferring them to ducks, but I really can't wait until they start laying eggs and earning their keep.


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