Raising healthy chicks and ensuring their well-being necessitates meticulous care and attention to their environment. To achieve optimal outcomes, it’s crucial to maintain the following essential standards and guidelines when raising chicken chicks:
- Warm and Dry Brooder: After hatching, the chicks should be placed in a warm and dry brooder until they have developed some feathers. The brooder should be well-ventilated and free from drafts. This will help prevent any respiratory problems that can occur due to poor ventilation.
- Safe Environment: The brooder should be safe from access by children and predators to ensure the safety of the chicks. The brooder should be securely enclosed to prevent any unwanted entry.
- Suitable Flooring: To prevent the chicks from developing splayed legs, the flooring of brooder should not be smooth or slippery. Coarse sawdust or thick paper should be used to line the floor, which also makes cleaning easier. Smooth wood should be avoided as the birds may peck at it, which can cause health problems.
By following these guidelines, you can create a safe and comfortable environment for your chicken chicks, helping them grow into healthy adult birds.
Importance of Temperature Control for Chick Health and Survival
Maintaining appropriate temperature is essential for the survival and healthy growth of chicks. To achieve this, infrared lighting with a power of 250 watts is recommended, which is sufficient to heat up to 100 chicks. Although this lighting is expensive and consumes electricity, an alternative option is using a regular 100-watt light, which is adequate for only 50 chicks.
Temperature Control During the First Week
During the first week of hatching, the temperature should be kept at 35 degrees Celsius, with a reduction of 5 degrees Celsius at the end of each week until it reaches 30 degrees Celsius. Once the temperature matches the natural room temperature, the artificial lighting can be removed. Typically, when the chicks reach their sixth or seventh week, and their feathers are fully grown, they can be moved to the chicken coop.
Proper Placement of Lighting and Food
To ensure proper temperature regulation, the lighting should be placed half a meter above the incubator floor, with a thermometer elevated about 5 cm above the floor to obtain accurate readings. The light should be secured on one side of the incubator, with food and drink placed on the opposite side.
Monitoring Temperature and Adjusting as Required
Avoid placing the lighting in the center of the incubator. Instead, secure it to one side and position the food and water on the opposite side, away from the light source. If the chicks remain dispersed and do not gather under the light, the temperature is suitable. However, if they display signs of thirst, reduced food intake, and lethargy, the temperature may be too high. On the other hand, if the chicks huddle in the center of the light and exhibit diarrhea, the temperature is too low. In both cases, the temperature should be checked and adjusted.
Expansion of Space and Lowering of Temperature
As the chicks grow, they require a larger space and lower temperatures. Failure to expand the space or adjust the temperature each week may impede growth and delay feather formation. To avoid crowding and excessive heat, fresh water and feed should be provided. Overall, adhering to the recommended weekly temperature reduction range is crucial for proper chick growth and development.
Nutrition Care: What to Feed Chicks?
Feeding chicks the right grades of food is essential to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development. Here are some tips on feed grades for chicken chicks:
- Starter feed: This is the first feed you should give to chicks for the first six weeks of their lives. Starter feed contains high amounts of protein, which is crucial for muscle and tissue development. It should contain around 20-22% protein and be crumbled in texture to make it easy for chicks to eat.
- Grower feed: After six weeks, chicks should be switched to grower feed. This contains a lower amount of protein (around 16-18%) than starter feed, as the chicks are no longer growing as rapidly. However, it still provides the necessary nutrients for continued healthy growth.
- Finisher feed: This feed is given to chickens when they are nearing maturity, usually around 14-16 weeks of age. Finisher feed contains even less protein than grower feed (around 14-16%) and is designed to help chickens put on weight and develop strong bones.
It’s important to remember that chickens also need access to clean water at all times, as well as grit and oyster shell to aid with digestion and calcium absorption. By providing your chicks with the right grades of food, you can ensure they grow up healthy and strong.
Common Deadly Diseases in Newly Hatched Chicks
Chick diseases can be a serious concern, especially during the first ten days of their life. It is essential to monitor the chicks closely during this period to identify any signs of illness and take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of disease. Some of the most common diseases that can affect newly hatched chicks include:
- Navel ill/Omphalitis
- Fowl Typhoid
- Rotavirus enteritis
- Fowl Cholera
- Avian encephalomyelitis.
Source: National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS), UK.
These diseases are not limited to young chicks and can affect chickens of all ages. While the diseases mentioned above are the most common, there are other diseases that can also affect newly hatched chicks.
Additionally, chicks may have other issues during this stage. One common problem is the feces sticking to their vent, also known as Pasty Butt. This problem can result from exposure to extreme temperatures, poor nutrition, bacterial infections, stress, and lack of water consumption.
Pasty Butt can lead to serious health issues if not addressed immediately. To prevent this issue, it is crucial to monitor the temperature and ensure that the chicks have access to clean water and a healthy diet. If Pasty Butt occurs, it should be treated promptly by gently removing the feces with warm water and a soft cloth.
Finally, one of the most prevalent diseases in chicks is coccidiosis parasites, which can develop after they reach 10 days of age. These parasites thrive in hot, humid, and unclean environments and can multiply rapidly, potentially leading to fatal diseases, particularly in birds aged 3 to 6 weeks.
Looking for Signs of Sickness
Always observe the health of your birds. The following signs indicate illness:
- Lethargy and weakness
- Wet feathers around the beak
- Difficulty breathing and eye inflammation
- Drooping wings
- Head tucked under the wing
- Loss of appetite and drinking little water
- Sitting on the ground for long periods
- Abnormal feces: green, white, or red
In this case, contact your veterinarian immediately.