Caring for Chicks

The chicks can walk within a few hours of hatching and drying out and can 'fly' within three weeks although they are more like unguided missiles at this stage as they strech their wings.They will need to be brooded in a warm and draught free enviroment. If the chicks huddle together and bleat loudly they are cold, if they pant and press themselves into the corners of the brooder then they are to warm. They will peep to themselves incessantly but it is a comforting and reassuring noise. The temp will need to be 95 F to start and be reduced by about 5F every week till the chicks are fully feathered at about 8 to 10 weeks of age. We have found a better way is to increase the size of the brooding area so the chicks can wander further with each passing week. This seems to mimick the way mother hens brood their young and allows the young birds to better control their own enviroment.

We have always used wood shavings for both the nesting boxes and for keeping the chicks on when they hatch and have yet to have any problems with legs. It is parasite free which hay often isnt and allows for clean eggs. It is also good to scratch in and makes an excellent insulation material. The chicks will let you know when they are ready to roost and we have found a broom handle is excellent for this purpose. They seem to be able to fly best about 10 to 16 weeks of age and dont seem to bother flying when mature unless they have to.

The chicks need a crumb to eat which is best fed in small amounts and changed regularly. Because of the warm conditions water will need to available at all times and changed daily.

They begin to feather at day three but are very slow to mature fully. Barnevelder chicks do not fully feather until they are 10 weeks old and do not mature until they are 28/30 weeks old. I prefer to use hens to look after and brood chicks in a free range environment as they respond to the chicks needs and teach them all they need to know. It is also fun to watch mother hen and baby chickens.

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