After several weeks of incubation, your eggs will be ready to hatch. After they hatch, they cannot be kept in the incubator very long. It is time for them to move to a brooding area. A good brooding area is the key to chick survival and growth in their early stages of development. The important features of a good brooding area include:
- A safe, protected area, away from potential predators and cold drafts. This area should be in a location where you have easy access to it in order to give them care and check on them regularly.
- A dependable heat source with enough power for your particular brooder.
- A feeding and drinking area.
- A ‘grippable’ and absorbant floor. Grippable floors are important because if the chicks legs slide or skid as they learn to walk they can develop a variety of problems in their legs and feet. Absorbant floors will help keep your chicks clean and dry.
- Space. Most people suggest about 6 to 12 inches square per chick. Plenty of space is important because they like to move around. As the chicks grow, they will need more space.
- Chicks only. Do not keep young chicks with older chickens.
- Sanitary. As your chicks develop, you will need to clean the brooder on a regular basis to prevent disease.
An Example Brooder
After your chicks are situated in the brooder, the most important things are food and water. If you keep a water source near them, they will take care of watering themselves. The waterer needs to be able to supply water almost constantly without running out, but be careful because if they have too much water at once they can drown or, more likely, soak themselves and become sick. A good way to keep enough water in the incubator is the use of Incubator Warehouse’s Watering Dish, which will allow water to flow from a plastic jar to the dish as needed, keeping a shallow pool—deep enough to drink from but not to drown in—in their waterer at all times.
Feed can usually be purchased at Supermarkets or, if you want something more specialized to your type of chick, a pet store. Opt for larger bags of feed, as the chicks will eat more than you probably think. Some types of feed are specially medicated or have specific nutrients in them. These usually cost more, buy may help your chicks. Many people choose simply to make their own feed. Be sure to consider and choose carefully what you are going to feed your chicks.
As with water, chicks can regulate their own food intake. Just be sure their feeding dish is always full and they will eat what they need. They will not overeat. You will find yourself refilling food and water very frequently as the chicks grow.
Pay close attention to your chicks. If they seem to always be cheeping, it's an indication that something may be wrong. This may be due to problems with food, water, temperature, or a variety of other things. If you are sure they have enough food and water and they are still upset, the issue is probably temperature. When determining temperature, the IncuTherm™ Thermometer can be a valuable tool. However, to ensure the temperature is correct watch the chicks’ reactions. If they tend to huddle near the light, and cheep very loudly and frequently, they are too cold. If they avoid areas near the light and pant, their environment is too warm. When checking up on them, also make sure they are clean and move frequently and steadily.
Don’t be afraid to hold or pet your chicks for short periods of time. As long as you are careful, you won’t do them any harm. Always carefully supervise small children who are handling or petting chicks. Before and after handling chicks, wash your hands and dry them well.
Many people like to give chicks time outside. This can be very good for them. Be careful, however—make sure the space they will be in is clear of obstacles that may hurt them, particularly pools they might drown or become soaked in. Be sure predators are kept away, including birds. Make sure the day is warm and dry. Chicks enjoy being outside, but this should only be done for short periods of time until their feathers come in.
Answers to other questions you may have can be found at www.feednfarm.com/PoultryChickCare.html
This article was republished in June of 2021.