Chick-kit – what you need to successfully raise chickens
Raising baby chicks from hatch to adulthood can be one of the most rewarding aspects of keeping chickens. Success in doing so can be increased dramatically with a few easy steps when preparing for the arriving babies. Do you know what items to keep stocked to guarantee success when raising your flock?
Building a Chick-Kit
One of the most important keys to raising baby chickens is being prepared before the first one ever arrives. Nothing is more frustrating than having a baby chick in need and not having what you need. Many chicken raisers live far from town and stores, while others live in towns where supplies for chickens aren’t common. Instead of waiting until just before brooding, spreading purchases out over the non-chick season makes stocking up much more affordable.
Keeping a 5-gallon bucket in which chick supplies are stored makes finding everything easier in a hurry. These buckets are often sold with lids that keep supplies clean and dust free. Organizers that slip around the bucket can additionally make finding that pair of scissors, a thermometer, or tweezers easier.
Chick Brooding Necessities
Keeping chicks properly warm is key. While most people realize a source of heat is important, they usually have only one type such as one UV heat lamp, or a light bulb. There may be times when the chicks need more or less heat or even times when one chick should be separated. Keeping at least two different types of heating bulbs with two lamps can really help in a pinch.
Of course, food and water is important to every growing chick. There are many different types of waterers and feeders designed for babies. While most provide for ease, few provide solutions to the age-old issue of chick droppings getting into the water or babies drowning. To prevent babies drowning, glass rocks used in decorative vases are easy to clean, poreless and allow babies to get back out of waterers. Putting feeders and waterers on top of an upside-down flower pot saucer can lift the feeder and waterer so that chicks don’t walk in them with droppings on their feet.
Bedding for babies is an important decision, as the type of bedding used not only impacts leg strength but also gut health as improper bedding increases chances of coccidiosis in the brooder. Stock up on rolls of inexpensive grippy kitchen shelf liner, the type with holes, before babies arrive. Using the liner as flooring not only helps the babies’ legs strengthen and prevent spraddle leg, it also allows for rapid drying of droppings in those first few days after babies are born. The liner can be washed, dried, and reused making this a very economical choice.
Essential Medicines and Supplements
Certain supplements and medicines should always be available when chicks are being raised. Corid or Sulmet should be a staple in any poultry keeper’s cabinet. Additionally, products like Save-A-Chick, NutriDrench for poultry or even simple Poly-Vi-Sol (non-iron formula, found in the vitamin section of most grocery stores or pharmacies) can provide a quick source of vitamins and, most importantly, vitamin B12 for chicks which are not thriving or eating. These items can be literal life-savers.
Probios probiotics help provide a great start to the babies new digestive systems when given a pinch at a time over feed for the first few weeks; probiotics also help to ward off coccidiosis. Ground kelp such as Source for horses can also provide a wonderful boost of micronutrients to insure a super-thrifty flock.
First Aid Items
As mentioned previously, tweezers and scissors are often needed when baby chicks are being brooded or hatched. Be sure to keep not only normal scissors but tiny cuticle scissors as well for small jobs. Small fingernail clippers can be very useful both for baby and adult chickens as well as tweezers. An inexpensive magnifying glass can really help when tasks at hand are difficult to see or when one is inspecting birds for parasites.
Other items that can be useful ahead of time, and sorely missed when needed and not present, are simple boric acid sterile eye wash, antibiotic ointment, and a veterinary-approved blood clotter, such as Clotisol. Be careful not to use common blood clotters on baby chicks as they can be poisonous. Consider other items for your brooder room such as a dedicated roll of paper towels, Nolvasan or other mild and safe disinfectant, first-aid tape, and pieces of cardboard in case a baby needs splinting.
With a little foresight, building a care kit for the upcoming brood of chicks need not be expensive. Having such a kit on hand can make a huge difference in how immediately and well chick needs can be attended. Most importantly, preparing ahead of time allows one to concentrate more fully on the fun of watching a promising bunch of chicks grow into a health and thriving flock.
Nathalie (Ross) Norris is a writer, animal lover, and native Texan. Her love of keeping chickens started at a young age. Many years later, she find that her favorite part of keeping chickens is helping others to enjoy it as well.
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