Keeping Baby Chicks Healthy

| 8/11/2014 9:14:00 AM

Tags: chick health, delayed starve out, chick brooding, Pat Foreman, Virginia,

chickBrooding healthy, well-adjusted chicks is not just keeping them warm and fed. In my opinion, there are at least four pro-active things you can do to assure thriving chicks.

1. Healthy Chicks Come From Healthy Parents
If the rooster or hen was malnutrition chances are high their chicks will have nutritional deficiencies passed from the parents to the chick. Start right and get chicks (and hatching eggs) from producers who take good care of their breeding stock.

2. Protect and Enhance the Chicks Biome
My chicks get probiotics in their first feed so that their immune system is supported. I never feed medicated feed chicks. Medicated feed gives a sub-therapeutic dose of antibiotics that can alter the chick biome and contribute to bacterial drug resistance. I treat the individual; not the entire flock. Giving the chicks probiotics also helps prevent and treat pasty butt.

3. Fine Dining within Hours of Hatching
It doesn’t matter if chicks hatch from under a hen or in an incubator; they have about three days before they must eat or suffer starve out where they become too weak to eat or drink. They never seem to catch up. It is these 3-days that allow the mother hen to remain on the nest giving time for more eggs hatch. Even with a hen still hunkered down in incubation mode for the slow-pippers, the early-hatched chicks are already dashing around in search of food.

Newly hatched chicks do not need to wait to eat! Within hours of hatching, the newborns are ready for food. They innately start scratching and searching calories. The earlier your chicks get nutrition, the less stressed and healthier they will be in the long run. This is one huge advantage of local incubation (without the need to ship chicks) is that it greatly reduces stress and minimizes starve out.

4. Eliminating Delayed Starve Out
Delayed starve out is a subtle killer. Many folks don’t realize that a chick’s recovery from the stresses of hatching and shipping are not over with their first drink and full crop. There can be a shadow starve out. This is when a chick doesn’t get enough high quality protein food, and 100% clean water.

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