Newly hatched chicks are very vulnerable in the first days of life and often die under unfavorable conditions. But if the poultry farmer competently approaches the choice of feed and conditions for keeping day-old chicks, the mortality rate will significantly decrease. What are the features of keeping chickens and their feeding, how you can exclude diseases common among young animals - we will consider all these important issues in our article.
One of the most economically profitable areas in agriculture is poultry farming (breeding chickens, layers, broilers). Often for these purposes, novice poultry farmers buy barely hatched day old chicks, the price of which is more attractive than the price of reared young. This is associated with great risks, since day-old chicks have not yet developed immunity, and the likelihood of illness or death is high. In order for the purchase to be successful and all the chickens to survive, it is necessary to take into account some features when choosing a day-old bird.
- The most optimal season for raising chicks is spring. It is better to purchase day old chickens from the second half of April to May. In addition to the warmth and intense sun, which provides vitamin D, this is the time of the first green food for chickens, which is rich in vitamins and nutrients.
- The farm where the young poultry will be purchased must have a good reputation, preferably with a professional direction.
- Choose chicks that are stable, moving, and squeaking.
- Appearance plays a big role when buying. The eyes of healthy chicks shine, the babies already know how to peck food. The beak is smooth, pigmented, the down is dry, without stuck together lumps. The chicken should keep its head straight and the back straight.
- Pay attention to the umbilical cord. In a day old chick, it should be overgrown and free of secretions that may indicate the presence of infection.
- You also need to inspect the cloaca, normally it will be pink, clean, with moist skin.
- Chicks need to respond to sounds. This is usually a shy reaction, which is the norm.
How to determine gender?
Many poultry breeders prefer to select chicks based on gender. If the focus of the poultry farm is egg, then a large number of layers are needed.
Poultry meat production is best based on male males, as they weigh more in adulthood than hens.
There are several ways to distinguish a chicken from a cockerel.
- Japanese technique. Has a confidence level of about 95% and can indicate gender. On it, you need to carefully examine the chicken's genital organ - the cloaca. This should be done delicately, without letting the chicken get too scared or hurting it. For this, the chick must be handled in a special way.
- Take it with all the fingers of your left hand, gently holding the chicken's head between the ring finger and the little finger, turn it upside down. The paws should be fixed between the index and middle fingers of the left hand. You need to act carefully, without damaging the fragile chick. With the index and thumb of your right hand, spread the fluff near the cloaca.
- Clean the cloaca from feces with a damp cloth. Then, with the fingers of the right hand, push the sphincter apart, as if twisting it outward, while slightly pressing on the abdomen so that the penis can be seen better. When pressed, the chick can perform an act of defecation, after which the cloaca will need to be wiped off.
- Carefully examine the structure of the genital organ. Males will have a small genital tubercle. In females, the reproductive structure looks like a neat, smooth knot.
- The folk method of turning over is quite reliable. You need to carefully take the baby by the paw, turn it upside down. At the same time, in the cockerels, the head will remain elongated below, and the future chicken will bend its head to the body, trying to group.
- Folk way to fluff. How faithful he is, one cannot say, but many poultry breeders argue that chickens have more fluff and more fluff than cockerels.
- In an older bird, sex is determined by the wings. Having spread the wing so that all feathers are visible, you need to pay attention to their plumage. In females, flight feathers are longer and covered with feathers earlier than in males.
Conditions for keeping
Newly hatched chicks require enhanced care, a special diet, and maintenance of the desired temperature and light regime. The favorable course of these factors directly affects whether the bird will grow up to adulthood. A poultry farmer for raising poultry at home needs to know the features of keeping day-old chickens, as well as create favorable conditions for the growth of babies and provide for the following nuances.
- The first dwelling. For chicks, this can be a large cardboard box placed in a warm, dry room. The norm for settling day-old chicks will be 20-25 heads per 1 square meter. As they grow older, after 28-35 days, the norm will already be 15-17 heads per 1 square meter. The bottom of the box should not be cold and damp, as this will lead to colds in the young. For the first time, it is better to lay diapers on the floor (made of fabric, not disposable) and change them as they become dirty.
- Providing warmth and light. Chickens up to 4 weeks of age need a warm microclimate with a temperature of at least +30 degrees, and on the first day it is necessary to provide a temperature of + 33-35 degrees. Drafts are not allowed. Finding babies under an infrared lamp will help to extend the light regime, the round-the-clock illumination of which is mandatory for chicks in the first 2 weeks of life.
- Drinking skill. A hatched chick cannot drink, this skill is acquired by it in 1-2 days. The breeder should water each chick independently. Water should be given clean, or preferably boiled, with a light pink potassium permanganate content.
- Active growth of chicks in their first 7-10 days of life. Such rapid growth is accompanied by an increased appetite for the chicks, so there should always be food in their feeder. At first, it is better to sprinkle the food on the floor and replenish it periodically. Then you need to install such a feeder that will provide access for each baby to the food, but at the same time they should not stand with their paws in the container in order to avoid clogging the food with droppings. The diet should contain a maximum of vitamins, trace elements and nutrients.
- Shedding weak individuals. They are often found among the livestock, as a rule, they are smaller than the rest, they are the last to eat, some cannot even stand on their feet. A prerequisite for keeping them is to place them in a separate box, where the rest of the livestock will not interfere with the chicken eating and drinking, pushing and stepping. In a calm environment, a weak chicken is easier to care for, it will gain weight faster and soon catch up with its counterparts in weight.
What to feed in the first days of life?
Hatched chicks need a special diet, a quarter of which should be high-quality protein. Modern specialized feeds fully provide the chicks with everything they need, they are also called "nulls" because of the fine grinding and high content of nutrients. But in their absence, the poultry farmer, knowing some of the features, can independently establish successful feeding of the babies.
Newborn chicks need to be fed 11-15 hours after birth, as they have a food reflex at this time. As the first food, corn grits are like, gradually you need to introduce finely crushed yolk from a boiled egg with the addition of semolina for crumbling. The digestive system is still being formed and needs to be populated with beneficial microflora. Dry low-fat cottage cheese (finely ground), whey, lean kefir are well suited for this - they can be added a little bit to the cereal mixture. It is better to refuse milk, it can give a disorder in the form of diarrhea.
Already on the second day of life, chicks should be given fresh chopped greens (nettles scalded with boiling water, fresh grass) - this will teach them to peck green food, which well saturates the small body with vitamins. For 3-4 days, cereals (wheat or barley), grated boiled vegetables (potatoes, carrots) are introduced into the diet of chickens.
Chickens one week old are given a mash of corn, wheat, barley groats, herbs and boiled vegetables, low-fat dairy products.
It is imperative to check the fullness of the goiter for each chick (especially in the first week): if the goiter is empty, feed the chick separately.
Feeding day-old chicks should be frequent, food should be given strictly by the hour - every 2-2.5 hours, including at night. Night feeds stop with the end of night illumination at about 7-10 days of age. By 6-7 days and up to 1 month, the number of feedings per day is 7 times, and only by the age of one month, this amount decreases to 5-6 times.
The feed rate for small chickens is 1.5-2 tbsp. spoons per chicken per day, gradually increasing with the growth of the chick. If you feed the young with self-made feed, then they must be supplemented with vitamins and microelements. In this case, the feed can be of two types - dry and wet. Soft, moist feed is absorbed faster by birds and is better suited for rapid weight gain. Dry mixtures give long digestion and slow saturation, they are recommended to be given in the evening or at night.
In proportion, the entire daily ration for one chicken, as it grows, is presented in the table (in grams):
Chicken age, days
Chicken yolk and protein
Sour milk, whey
Cereals (corn, barley, rolled oats, millet)
Fish or bone meal
Chicks cannot be grown without ordinary, clean water, and for chicks on the first day it should be supplied in small quantities. For a start, a 0.5-1 liter jar is suitable, inverted into a special drinker with a dispenser. It is recommended to water chickens in the first week with a weak pale pink solution of manganese - this will ensure the prevention of intestinal disorders. For the same purpose, babies are given boiled water or diluted decoctions of chamomile, calendula, yarrow. Drinking should not be cold (at least 19-20 degrees).
Some poultry farmers prefer day old chicks to be fed with antibiotics right away. This will improve the health of the chicks and avoid many problems. Probiotics are also given along with antibiotics. This must be done correctly, following the dosages. For questions related to medications and doses suitable for feeding babies, it is better to consult a specialist.
Usually prescribed by "Enroxil", "Baytril", "Nutril", "Baycox" and others.
Despite being well cared for, well fed and kept properly, the poultry farmer can face health problems when raising chicks. Noticing them in time, it is important to take urgent action to save the lives of vulnerable chicks. The most common problems they have are:
- intestinal poisoning and upset;
- infections (typhoid, coccidosis, salmonellosis).
What the chicks got sick with and how to treat them, the symptoms of diseases will tell. The manifestation of the disorder, infections and poisoning is diarrhea.
- White diarrhea in chickens signals about salmonella, which will help to save the brood from thorough cleaning of the house, disinfection of feeders, and good air exchange in the room. Chickens with this disease have watery eyes, runny nose and drowsiness.
- Yellow diarrhea is a common occurrence, it occurs due to poor-quality feed, frequent stress in chickens, hypothermia. Also, infections (for example, Gumboro disease), which are detected by testing, may be the cause. After determining the cause of the diarrhea, the chicks are appropriately treated and disinfected.
- Bloody diarrhea often occurs due to dangerous coccidosis. Most of the livestock can be saved by timely general cleaning of the premises, disinfection of feeders and drinkers. Such bloody diarrhea is also accompanied by a lethargic state of chicks, lack of appetite, ruffled feathers and fluff, the presence of mucus and blood in the droppings.
- Green diarrhea indicates an infection - pasteurellosis, which can be properly cured by a veterinarian. Also, greens in the litter are a sign of poor quality feed or excess grass in the diet.
In case of any deviation in the health of young animals, you should urgently contact a veterinarian who will prescribe the correct treatment. The poultry farmer must comply with disease prevention measures, which include:
- cleaning feeders from feed residues, periodic cleaning and disinfection of the poultry house;
- quality feed and quality drinking water;
- lack of overcrowding in the livestock;
- maintaining optimal temperature;
For information on what to feed and what conditions are needed for keeping day-old chicks, see the next video.