Care of New Baby Chicks

Spring time is here.  The violets  and daffodils are blooming. There are more warm days than cold ones 
The birds are singing, trying to lure another to be their mate for the season.  The garden is getting ready to bust out with it's colorful spring display. The day has finally arrived.  I received a phone call from the post office today letting me know that my babies had arrived. Oh happy day!
They came on two separate days.  First was my little box of 26 baby chickens.  25 of them are Aracauna...you know, the kind that lay blue, green and sometimes pink eggs.  No these aren't the purebred kind for showing but they do lay beautiful Easter egg colored eggs (they taste the same as the white eggs).  They are also wonderful gentle chickens who lay well for me.  The second box had 2 baby ducks.  I know you must be wondering why only 2 baby ducks.  More about that on another post.
 The care upon arrival is some of the most important for the health of your birds. See the little green band on the baby duck's leg? That needs to be removed.  As the bird grows it will become too tight very quickly if not removed. It is important to give the birds a warm place out of any drafts. As you can see, I have pens made just for this with a light bulb for a heat source for the babies.  They need a temperature of about 90 to 95 degrees. You can use a heat lamp if you like rather than a light bulb.  I find that a 100 watt light bulb works just fine. If you do not have a pen then a box with tall sides or even a plastic tub will work just as well.  I watch them carefully to make sure they do not get chilled or overheated.  Either problem can devastate your new flock. As they grow they will need less and less heat (lower it 5 degrees every week till it is down to 70 degrees). If they are all bunched up as in the pictures here then they are cold and need a bit more warmth, if they are as far away from the heat and each other as possible then they are too hot.

I put a bit of hay and even the little bit of grass that came in their box in the pen to give them a spot to sleep.  It is important that this be kept fresh because it will get fouled quickly.  It is not really a good idea to use newspaper for this job because it can cause leg problems for the birds.  I do not like cedar shavings or any kind of treated wood. Do not use sawdust either because the babies peck at everything and they can peck at the shavings and end up choking or not eating enough proper food.  My pens do not even need bedding because there is a wire bottom where the droppings can fall through to a pan that can be emptied and washed every day.  I simply add a bit back in the corner for bedding. If your setup is not like this then you will need bedding material distributed all over to catch the droppings.
Your new babies will need feed and water immediately upon arrival. It is important to use a chick waterer rather than an open dish.  The chicks will walk through an open dish of water and spill it, foul it, and get themselves soaked.  They can also drown in it. The same goes for baby ducks. Even with the chick waterer it is important to give them fresh water each day. I like to stick their little beaks in the water just a second to show them the water.  It is also best to use a chick feeder so the feed will stay as clean as possible.  You can feed baby chicken feed if you have not had your chicks vaccinated.  If you have had them vaccinated then use a chicken crumble that has not been treated with medicine. At about 3 days or so I will sprinkle some grit in with their food to aid their digestion.

As you transfer the chicks and ducks to their new home it is important to inspect them and make sure they do not have any pasting problems.  This is where poo has dried and pasted up their vent.  It will be obvious with dried poo on their back side. This can be deadly if not dealt with.  To take care of this just wash the chick with warm water and removed the dried poo. Be sure to dry the chick well and put them near the heat after they are clean. If they still have an umbilical cord do not remove it.  Allow that to fall off naturally.

You will be amazed how quickly your baby chicks will grow.  If you see them pecking on each other then expand their space.  If they are flying out of their space you can cover it with some chicken wire or bird net. They can be moved outside full time at about 4 to 5 weeks if the weather is at least 65 degrees.  They should be laying their first eggs at about 4 to 5 months. With good care you should have a happy flock that lays for you in a few short months.
Until Next Time

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1 comment:

Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick said...

Hi Debbie! Thanks so much for linking up with my weekly Clever Chicks Blog Hop and congratulations on your new pets!

As a part of my commitment to truth-in-chicken-advertising, I must share with you that your chicks are not "Araucauna," they are rightfully called Easter Eggers or Rainbow layers. They are a mix of two different breeds but are not an APA recognized breed themselves. There is great confusion surrounding this type of chicken, which is why I wrote a blog post about it to share in order to get the word out about the truth. I have Easter Eggers, have always had Easter Eggers and I love them. It's just important that we, as a chicken-keeping community, share information to ensure that others are not duped by unscrupulous sellers. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/09/ameraucana-easter-egger-or-araucana.html

Thanks for indulging my tiny rant. LOL I hope to see you back on next week's blog hop!

Kathy Shea Mormino
The Chicken Chick