Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Looking after freshly hatched chicks

Once the chicks hatched they flopped about in the incubator all sticky from the inside of the egg. I left them there for a couple of hours until they began to dry out. Then they were transferred to a brooder box. Mine is made from an old deep drawer with the back panel missing. I put a tray inside the drawer which I filled with sawdust from the workshop. This makes it easier to clean out and change the sawdust.
The side of the drawer that is missing is placed against the shed window so my little kids can watch the chicks grow without having to open a stiff shed door.


The chicks need a heat source. I purchased a 75W heat lamp on eBay for about $20 which comes with a stand that allows the bulb to be raised as the chicks grow (otherwise they get singed heads!).
They have a feeder that allows them to get their heads in to feed but not to stand in. They still like to perch on the wires and poo into their feed, though. I use commercial chick starter feed from the local farm store - in our case, Landmark. Each day I add feed and sometimes clean the feeder so that the poo is removed.
The water feeder is an inverted plastic lemonade bottle screwed into a trough that allows chicks to drink but not to drown. Apparently they can find all sorts of ways of committing suicide if you are not careful. I place the trough up above the sawdust so that the water is at beak height and the sawdust does not clog the water.
As long as the power does not go off and they have plenty of food and water they have all they need. I check them once a day mainly to marvel at how much they are growing - the ones in the picture are eleven days old. One is developing a tail and they are all getting the black and white wing feathers of the Light Sussex breed.
These chicks will spend about three weeks in this brooder box as hopefully the batch will be hatching and need the space. After about ten days they are active enough to need a net over the top to prevent the chicks hopping out as they test their little wings.

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