Please note if hatching at home we can provide Mareks vaccinations on a Saturday morning if pre booked. Cost per Bird is $2.00.
Raising chicks can be exciting and rewarding and does not need to be too difficult, but the most important thing is heat; if chicks get too cold they will die. There are two ways of raising chicks either with a broody hen or infared lamps.
By placing the young chicks under a clucky hen she will do the work for you. It is generally best to put the chicks under at night, that way the hen wakes up and thinks how clever she is to have hatched these chicks! Separating a broody hen from the rest of the flock is important before giving her the chicks as it is common for other hens to attack the chicks which can quickly result in death.
Infrared lamps (like the sort used for reptiles) can be used for brooding chicks. Porcelain brooders are fantastic but more expensive. Most people raising just a few chicks at home can use a coloured red or yellow light globe, 60 watts or above, which allows the chicks to sleep properly. The heat source needs to be flexible so you can adjust the heat accordingly. A simple solution is a suitable desk lamp with a bendable arm that can be lowered and raised accordingly. Generally placing the lamp about a foot away is ideal.
During the first week or two the chicks need to be in a brooder that is 35oC. The heat can then be reduced by 5oC per week until the heat is no longer required, which is usually around 6 weeks of age or when they are feathered up. During the first 4 weeks of life chicks will require a heat source at all times, after 4 weeks the light can generally be off during the day and on at night. Most important is to have the chicks in a draught free environment ideally in the laundry or bathroom where it is warm. Otherwise a fully enclosed garage is also suitable as long as you have sufficient heat. Generally a cardboard box or aquarium is perfect for raising chicks; it does not need to be expensive. If chicks are crowding together under the brooder the heat needs to be increased, but if they are moving away from the heat it is a good idea to lower the heat. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have your chicks warm otherwise they just won't survive. Avoid cats near your brooder as they are a threat to the young chicks. Children must also be supervised as rough and constant handling can have bad effects for the young chick.
Having chicks on a bed of wood shavings is ideal when they are small. We sell dust extracted wood shavings and it is great for absorbing manure and giving cushioning for their small legs. A small bowl of clean water and feed needs to be in the brooder box also. Correct chick starter crumble must be fed which is a complete meal for the growing chick and essential for them to grow properly. They need to be on this for 6-8 weeks and then move onto a grower pellet. We stock Barastoc feed which contains coccidiostat to prevent coccidiosis which is a bacterial infection of the intenstines which chickens are prone too. It is important raising chicks that when they are in their coop they are in a clean and well ventilated environment.
Once birds are outside from around 8 weeks pullets can then free range and start to have small amounts of others green and scrap introduced also.
Our chicks are professionally sexed and we vaccinate for Mareks disease. Chicks are available for collection each week from 10am on Saturday mornings. We do aim to have no sexing errors but due to the large variety of birds we offer some errors can occur. We are happy to replace with a hen for you if this occurs.