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April 15 2012 1 15 /04 /April /2012 14:40


A chick’s effort to free itself from its shell is crucial to the chicken's life cycle and it will die if you interfere in this mysterious process. As I have said before it is part of the natural selection process, only strong chicks survive the hatching process ensuring your flock is strong and healthy. It is hard to resist a struggling chick but you don’t want to breed weakness into your flock.

So your chick is free of the egg which means you have left well alone and not interfered during the lock down period (3 days before hatching) and maintained a constant temperature and high humidity levels. Soon after hatching, your chick will begin to walk and dry out, you should now move it to a secure box containing a 40 or 50 Watt light bulb suspended from above. Some breeders recommend a red light to ensure the bright light does not affect the young chick’s eyes, or make them a tiny pair of sun glasses!!!!.  They require a small tray of finely ground feed, and a dish of water filled with stones as young chicks are at risk of drowning. I use cooled boiled water for my young chicks in a sterile container.The first day the temperature should be maintained at 94 degrees Fahrenheit at the level of the litter of chicks. This means hanging the light close! After the ninth day, the temperature should be kept at 88 degrees. By day 18, it is fine to be at about 80 degrees. After six weeks, the lights can be turned off and the chicken acclimated to day and night cycle.

Please note these are recommended temperatures and it is far better to adjust the heat in response to your chick’s behaviour ie: a chick that is too hot will spread his wings out with his beak open as though panting. Chicks that are too cold will huddle in the corner of the box. I provide a rolled up sock for my chicks to climb into and this seems to suffice as a substitute for mother hen sitting on them.

As young chickens, you should get them a bigger box. Raising them indoors for a short while acclimates them to you, and allows them time to grow their 'outdoor feathers'. Doing this builds a strong bond between the keeper and the chicken. Once the new feathers have grown on its back and the chick loses its 'angelic look', you may introduce them to the outside world. Don't rush this because the chick needs these new feathers to withstand cold and protect its lungs from infection. Chickens in this stage of development are gifted with flight, so make sure there is a top or screen on the box. It is in this flighted stage that chickens are most fun to play with, as they will easily adopt your finger as perch, and they will fly around your room if you let them.

Once you decide that it’s time to bring them outside, you must still be mindful of their flying ability. Some keepers recommend against introducing new birds to an old flock, but we find that supervision and open forage conditions do allow for a gradual acclimation of the established birds to the newcomers. We position the newbies next to the coop containing our flock, which generates considerable interest, particularly if a cockerel has been born. 

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  • : Poddington and P
  • Poddington and P
  • : Poddington and P is about life in the country. It includes their creations, the animals they raise, and the plants and produce that they grow in the kitchen garden.
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