Ask a Poultry Farmer

Advice from a man with sixty years of experience with chickens, turkeys and waterfowl. With community blogger Dale Wheelock.

Ask a Poultry Farmer: I ordered chicks. Now what?

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Dale Wheelock
April 27, 2015

Your chicks are on their way! Are you ready?

First you need a brooder.

Next is bedding. As we've mentioned before, the best bedding is pine shavings. No matter if you are new or an old hand this is what you should use.

You can get by with shredded newspaper or paper towels but you will be changing it often.

Do not use cedar shavings. It's bad for their respiratory system. Do not use newspaper. They slip on newspaper and can hurt their legs.

Next you will need a heat source. We start ours inside the house and use two sixty watt bulbs. Notice I said two? This is in case one burns out during the night. You can get an adapter to put the two bulbs on one cord. It needs to be about 90 degrees and lower it by 5 degrees per week. Once you put the new chicks in the brooder keep an eye on them for about an hour. They will tell you if the temperature is right. If they are huddling under the light they are cold. If they are far away from the light they are too hot.

If the chicks are kept in a place that's colder you are stuck with using a heat bulb. Be careful with them since they can cause a fire. I have heard of ceramic heat bulbs that should be safer to use.

Once you have your feeders and waterers, you need to prepare them for the chicks. The day before the chicks arrive, fill your waterers. Water from the tap is 50 degrees. You need to get the water to room temperature but never just use hot water from the tap. They think the warmth is their mother, try to get close and get wet (bad).

With chicks that are sent though the mail, some use electrolytes in the water. The older way is to put a teaspoon of brown sugar in a quart of water.

Make sure you have plenty of the right starter feed for your chicks. This will help them grow to be healthy birds.

Bronze and White turkeys need extra attention.

As always, this is based on our experience. If you are doing something that works don't change just because we suggested something different.

Dale Wheelock has been raising chickens, turkeys and waterfowl since he was a farm kid in the 1950s. He owns and operates the Wheelock Family Farm in Walworth County with his wife, Barb, and has been an agriculture leader in the community for decades. Read more about poultry farming at askapoultryfarmer.blogspot.com. Dale is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management. Have a question for Dale? Send him an email at [email protected].

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