Rearing chicks with a mother hen
If you rear chicks with a mother hen you usually do not have a lot of work. You only have to take the mother hen with her chicks into a separate room after the chicks have hatched out, because they feel safer if there are no other adult hens around.
This room can be a small hen house or just a big birdcage that can be mounted into the normal hen house. You dont actually need any facilities; just some straw on the floor and a feeding trough for chicks food and water should be enough. You can buy special food for chicks in your store.
For the first days I usually feed the chicks some boiled eggs and soft bread. Later I feed them oatmeal and millet. The water trough should not be very deep to prevent the chicks from falling in and drown.
In fact there is not anything else to do because the mother hen takes care for her chicks better than we are able to.
If you breed chicks artificially, you have to take care for them much more because they need a warm and cozy house. Right after hatching out, you should leave the chicks inside the breeder for the next 24 hours. Afterwards, they will be dry and ready to start life. It is indispensable to have a heater reflector with a temperate of 37 °C in the first days. But there should be differences of temperature in the house, so that the chicks can refresh themselves if they are too hot. Furthermore, you should control the temperature by watching your chicks. If they all lie exhaustedly in one corner and dont move the house is too hot and you should turn the temperature a bit down. On the other hand, if they all lie together on the warmest spot of the room, it is probably too cold for them and you should turn he temperature a bit up.
The food you give the chicks is not different from the food given to chicks raised by their mother.
Often chicks have difficulties in drinking on the first day because they have no example to imitate; therefore you have to show them how to drink. Simply put the beak of the chick carefully into water, so that it can drink a bit. After a short time they should have learned swallowing water and they take it up themselves when they are thirsty.
As mentioned above you can use a normal little chick house with heater reflector or similar equipment to rear your chicks. I have them on a wooden table with glass windows around, so I can watch them. To avoid boredom on the part of the chicks you should entertain them a bit, for instance with a few boxes in their house, where they can jump on.
Rearing young chickens
|© 2001-2002 Lukas Kiefer, Schönau