Posts Tagged ‘chicks’

How to Feed Your New Chicks


Winter is finally over here in the Midwest, and it’s that time of year when our thoughts naturally turn to those little balls of yellow fuzz arriving at feed stores everywhere. For those of you raising chicks, here are some tips for choosing the right chick feed to sustain the new additions to your flock.

Chick Feeds

Chicks require their own special feed, different from the layer feed typically eaten by mature laying hens. However, not all chick feeds are the same. Some companies provide separate starter feeds and grower feeds, designed for chicks at various stages of development. But others offer a combined starter-grower feed.

As with any feed, follow the instructions on the label. If you feed starter, eventually you will switch your chicks to grower feed. But if you are using a combined starter-grower feed, you can keep feeding them the same feed until they are ready to switch to a layer ration.

NOTE: Any feed that is labeled as chick starter or grower (or starter-grower) will contain the correct amount of calcium, protein, and other nutrients to meet your growing chick’s needs. For instance, chick starter-grower feed is 20% protein, compared to 16% to 18% in layer feeds. It is important to provide this specially formulated feed. It will support healthy growth, and layer feed can kill chicks.

Other Added Ingredients in Chick Feed

  • Probiotics and Yeast Cultures: Chicks are born without gut microflora (gut bacteria and other important micro-organisms necessary for digestive system health). If your chicks are hand raised (rather than hen raised), they will benefit from supplemental microflora in their feed. See my recent post on this subject: Gut Health: It’s Not Just for Humans Anymore.
  • Medicated Feed: Some chick feed is labeled Medicated Chick Feed. For more information, see my post Medicated vs. Non-Medicated Chick Feed.

Feeding and Watering Tips

If your chicks come through the mail from a hatchery, you may have to dip their beaks in the water dish so they know how to drink. Gently put their beak in a teaspoon of water or in a shallow dish of water. Then watch to make sure their throats move, indicating they’ve swallowed the water.

Once your chicks have learned to drink, it is time for solid food:

Chicks may not catch on right away that the crumbles you are spreading in the brooder are food. Simply tap your finger on the feed, showing the chicks where the food is. You are imitating a mother hen, who uses her beak to guide her chicks to the tasty morsels.

Make sure your chicks always have ready access to their feed. Chicks need constant access to food to support their growth!

Use chick feeders designed especially for them: a shallow dish with a lid, with circular holes cut in the top. The lid helps keep droppings and bedding out of the feed. It also prevents the chicks from attempting to dust themselves or walk through the feed. Keep feeding dishes and water dishes clean.

Feeder with holes in the lid, designed for chicks. Note the shallow water dish (left).

Your chicks should always have access to fresh, clean water in a shallow dish. This prevents them from getting wet, which can lead to health problems. Be prepared to clean the water dishes several times a day to ensure clean water for your flock.

Chicks and Treats

I’m pretty conservative on feeding treats, especially to chicks. If you absolutely want to give them treats, wait until they are around 6 weeks old and introduce live mealworms or crickets, grapes, tomatoes, or fresh kitchen scraps. Make sure the foods are small enough to prevent them from choking. Offer them these foods for only 15 minutes per day, and be sure to clear out what they don’t eat. About 90% of their diet should be formulated feed, to ensure they get the nutrients they need. Remember what your mother said about too many treats! It applies to chicks as well. If you feed your chicks treats, such as scratch grains, you should also provide them with some fine grit (usually made from finely ground granite) in a separate feeder. This will help them digest their food.

Remember, chicks grow up fast: By the time your new birds are 16 weeks old, they can graduate to a layer diet.

Chicks at Belmont Feed and Seed, Feb. 5 or 6


Lidia at Belmont Feed and Seed will have chicks the beginning of next week.

Just an update on our chick shipment:
Our first hatch of chicks are to come in the first week of February. They will be shipped on February 4th, due to arrive on the 5th or the 6th of February.

We have: Araucana/Americauna, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds, Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Black Austrolorps, Silver Laced Wyandottes, Golden Laced Wyandottes, Isa Browns (Red Stars), all Pullets and all vaccinated for Mareks. All supplies are in. Plan to come in and make your selection.

All supplies are in.

Plan to come in and make your selection.

For more information on Belmont Feed and Seed, see the Resources tab.

Salmonella Linked to Hatchery Chicks


In response to the recent article in the Chicago Tribune’s  Health section on the dangers of raising chickens, here is a blog post that I wrote earlier this year.

An article on Yahoo News documented over 300 cases of Salmonella illness, linked to one hatchery, between 2004 and 2012. Alarming? I’d say not – that is just under 40 cases per year. However, the CDC advises that children under 5 not be allowed to touch chickens at all. There is also a risk of salmonella with reptiles.

As one member of a discussion group I’m part of pointed out, kids have a greater chance of being injured by an automobile. While the symptoms of Salmonella include bloody diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain, the illness is rarely fatal.

As with other pets, practice good hygiene by washing hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water after touching animals and especially after coming into contact with poop.

Salmonella Linked to Hatchery Chicks


An article on Yahoo News yesterday documented over 300 cases of Salmonella illness, linked to one hatchery, between 2004 and 2012. Alarming? I’d say not – that is just under 40 cases per year. However, the CDC advises that children under 5 not be allowed to touch chickens at all.

As one member of a discussion group I’m part of pointed out, kids have a greater chance of being injured by an automobile. Symptoms of Salmonella include bloody diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain, and the illness is rarely fatal. As with other pets, practice good hygiene, washing hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water after touching animals and especially after coming into contact with poop.

Incubation: A Word from Martha Boyd (Angelic Organics Learning Center)


For those teachers out there who are weighing the pros and cons of an embryology unit, here is a thoughtful post on incubation.

Also check out my post about how I got started with chickens. An embryology project kicked off my love of chickens, and we did the “window on a chick” thing – cutting an opening in the eggshell to see it develop. This chick died, which made me very sad. If you choose to go the hatching route, you can see the blood vessel networking forming, the heart beating, and the chick developing with effective candling! No need for egg windows!

Poultry at Feed Store, Harlem and 55, Summit, IL


As of April 10, 2012,the Feed Store (Harlem and 55) currently has

  • sexed ISA brown and black Australorp pullets
  • straight-run Javas and coturnix quail

Will be getting on 4/20

  • sexed ISA browns, buff Orpingtons, silver-laced Wyandottes, araucanas
  • unsexed bronze and white turkeys
  • mallard, Pekin, and blue Swede ducks

For a link to their location, see the Resources tab.

2/14/2012: Chicks have arrived at Belmont Feed and Seed


Chicks are coming today to
Belmont Feed & Seed
(773) 588-1144
3036 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

-Rhode Island Reds
-Isa Browns (Red Stars)
-Black Astralorps
-Buff Orpingtons
-Araucanas / Americanas
-Barred Rocks
-Golden Laced Wyandottes
-Silver Laced Wyandottes
-Assorted Bantams

Please call before driving in to confirm their arrival. Sometimes they
take 2 days for delivery.

Belmont Feed and Seed Ordering Chicks for Spring 2012


Spring is almost here and Belmont Feed and Seed is preparing for the first order of chicks.

The hatchery will ship out the first order on February 13, so the chicks should be here by the 15th. The current order includes

  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Barred Rocks
  • Golden-Laced Wyandottes
  • Silver-Laced Wyandottes
  • Araucanas / Ameraucanas
  • Black Australorps
  • Buff Orpingtons

Contact Lidia if there are other breeds you’d like to have: (773) 588-1144 or aandd8703@sbcglobal.net. Tell her I sent you!

Give the gift of …. chickens!


With the holidays approaching, I’m sure you chicken fanciers are perplexed about how to spread the chicken love with those who just don’t get your fowl proclivities.

Might I suggest spreading holiday cheer by giving… chickens!!

Heifer International, a 501(c)(3) charity, takes donations and uses the money to purchase farm animals for poor families in two-thirds world countries.

“Heifer’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth.

By giving families a hand-up, not just a hand-out, we empower them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope.

With gifts of livestock and training, we help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. We refer to the animals as “living loans” because in exchange for their livestock and training, families agree to give one of its animal’s offspring to another family in need. It’s called Passing on the Gift – a cornerstone of our mission that creates an ever-expanding network of hope and peace.”

You can present a loved one with a certificate for a flock of chicks that was given to a needy family in Peru for as little as $20! Other options include ducks, rabbits, sheep, cows, and water buffalo.

Consider alternative giving for the holidays and share your love of chickens!

You can find more information about giving chicks through Heifer International on this page from the Heifer site.

Salmonella outbreak linked to chicks and ducklings


An outbreak of 25 cases of  Salomonella Altona has been linked to chicks and ducklings in the eastern United States, including NC, PA, OH, and IN.

Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The disease can be diagnosed with a stool sample. Onset takes 2-3 weeks, and symptoms usually last 4-7 days.

For more information and tips to protect yourself from Salmonella Altona, read the full post on the Center for Disease Control’s website.