FEED: Use a good quality chick starter/grower like Purina Start & Grow. It comes in Non-Medicated and Medicated formula. Sprinkle feed on a paper towel in the area where the chicks will be. The chicks find the feed more easily this way at the start. Do this the first day. Then put the feed in troughs low enough so the chicks can see and reach the feed easily. Use one foot of trough feeder or one round feeder for every 25 chicks. Never let the chicks run out of feed or water. We don't recommend adding grit because the chick starter/grower feed is formulated for what the chicks need to digest the food. Chicks should stay on a full feed ration of chick starter/grower until they are 41/2 - 5 months of age.
EXCEPTION! On Meat birds like the Jumbo Cornish Cross, you may want to limit feed intake starting at the 14th day by taking the feed away at night. This seems to help slow the growth of the bird just enough to allow the skeletal structure of the bird to catch up with their fast muscular development.
WATER: Provide 1 gallon of water for each 50 chicks. Make sure and take your chick’s home right away and dip their beaks into their water container. They will be thirsty from our store to your home. Never let your chicks run out of water.
HEAT: We have found that using a drop light with reflector shield is a good source of heat. Use a 75 - 100 - 150 watt bulb and use as many lights as you need to keep the birds comfortable. Hang a reflector light from something secure so it does not come loose and drop down burning something or hurting a bird. The wattage of bulb you are using will determine how high you will hang the reflector over the middle of the birds. Chicks of 3-7 days of age should have an air temperature 1 inch off the floor of 95-98 degrees below the reflector light. Lower or raise the reflector to achieve this temperature allowing plenty of space for the birds to go to a cooler temperature. Regular white bulbs are fine; however, after 1-2 weeks red bulbs might work better to reduce feather picking. The temperature may need to be slightly higher for Bantams and other small bodied birds. Having a thermometer will help to insure that you have the proper comfort level for the birds. Reduce the temperature 5 degrees per week until you reach 70 degrees. They shouldn't need much heat after that. Start with one or two bulbs per 50 chicks in cold weather. Then watch how the birds act – see diagram at bottom. The birds need a small light at night to keep them from piling up even after they don't need it for warmth. MEAT BIRDS only: Be sure to watch the Jumbo CORNISH CROSS as they grow faster than other birds and will overheat more quickly.
SPACE: Try to provide 1/2 square foot per chick at the start. For starting 50 chicks use a draft shield and make a circle about 5 to 6 feet across. For 100 chicks, make a circle 7 to 8 feet across.
The ducks and geese should be raised separate from the chicks & turkeys
Other Important Matters:
DRAFT SHIELD: Cardboard put in a circle about 12 inches high around the chicks helps cut down drafts on the floor. Be sure the circle is large enough to allow the chick to get away from the heat if it wants to.
LITTER: Large pine shavings make a good litter, however, do not use small shavings or sawdust because baby chicks learning to eat will eat it and possibly die. Rice hulls, straw or hay, also makes good bedding. Do not use sand; the birds may eat it and can cause their craw to have impaction and cause health problems and death. Put the litter all over the floor at least 1 to 2 inches thick.
On concrete floors use 3" - 5" of bedding. Do not use cedar shavings, as they are highly toxic to poultry.
PICKING: It is very common for birds to use their own beak to groom or pick themselves. The new feathers growing in are brushed with their beak and the oil gland above the tail provides the oil for their beaks to groom their feathers. New feathers are full of blood and if pulled out will bleed some and this can attract other birds to pick at this area. Baby chicks will often pick each other if they are too hot, too crowded, without fresh air, or short of room. Occasionally bright lights also cause them to pick each other and changing to a red light might help. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to picking.
Sometimes, however, they pick for no apparent reason. To stop it try putting in fresh green grass clippings several times a day and darken the room. Chunks of grass sod can also be set around for the chicks to pick at. As a last resort, try cutting off about one-third of the top beak with a very sharp knife or razor blade. Cut from top to bottom, straight down. Be careful not to crush the beak by pushing too hard on the knife or razor blade. Do not cut the lower beak, just the top one. Birds picking EACH other can also be caused by stress from having lights on 24 hours a day. After you have dropped your heat temperature each week and now the birds do not require a heat source, remove the light at NOON. As the early evening comes around and it becomes darker the birds will automatically lay down by each other to go to sleep. Try not to disturb them during this time because it could make them pile up on each other and smother. It is common for them to lay part of their body across each other, you just don’t want them 2-3 birds deep on each other. To treat chicks that have been picked, smear pine tar or menthol flavored ointment on the area injured and keep up the treatment until healed.
After Four Weeks
1. Increase floor area to 3/4 square foot per chick.
2. Increase feeders to provide 2 1/2" to 3" of space per chick.
3. Increase waterers to one 5-gallon fount per 100 chicks.
4. Install roosts at back of brooder area. Allow four inches per bird with roost poles six inches apart.
5. Open windows in day-time. Leave only partly open at night.
6. Prevent water puddles around founts. Place founts on low wire platform.
7. Chicks can range outside on warm, sunny days, but only if clean range is available.
REAR END "PASTING UP": Sometimes the stress of shipping causes the manure to stick to the back of the chick. It is important to remove this daily. Pull off gently or, better yet, wash off with a cloth and warm water. It will disappear in a few days as the chick starts to grow. If chicks appear droopy add a sulfa type drug to their drinking water as directed on package.
BABY TURKEYS and PeaFowl
Use the basic instructions above, but watch more carefully as turkeys and peafowl tend to chill quicker than chicks. Baby turkeys and peafowl are known to be somewhat dumb -- therefore you have to make sure they know where the feed is. It is helpful sometimes to put colored marbles in the water fountains and to sprinkle some feed on cardboard the first few days. If they do not get started eating and drinking properly you might have "starve outs". If the turkeys or peafowl show any sign of diarrhea, add a sulfa type (Sulmet, etc.) drug to their drinking water as directed on package. Do not use any slick paper for bedding for turkeys and peafowl. Baby turkeys and peafowl easily slide on slick surfaces and lack the muscle in the leg area to keep their legs from spreading apart resulting in sprattle-legged poults. We also recommend a few standard size baby chicks to be raised with the turkeys and peafowl in the beginning. The chicks help teach the turkeys and peafowl how to eat and drink. Peafowl are very difficult to raise.
Safe handling of poultry
Live animals and pets can be a source of potentially harmful micro-organisms; therefore, precautions must be taken when handling and caring for them to prevent fecal/oral transmission among people. Children should be supervised as they handle animals and pets to make sure they don't put their hands or fingers in their mouth. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling any animal or pet.