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Getting ready for chicks to arrive? Is your order of meat bird chicks ready to be sent through the mail? Here’s what you need to know about preparing for meat birds or other chicks.
Several days before the meat bird chicks are due to arrive, your meat bird brooder should be completely ready. It’s important to check and doublecheck every small detail as it is much easier to fix any problems before you have live chicks in your brooder.
Getting Ready for Chicks
We turn the heat on in the brooder room 2 days prior to their arrival. You may need to do the same, in order to allow the room to come up to temperature. Work to ensure your chicks do NOT get chilled.
For the first two weeks, we keep them up at the house, since they should be checked on quite often. After that, we move them down to the new meat bird room at the barn.
Here’s a picture of the chick brooder set up. We put the chicken waterer up on little blocks of thick wood, a trick we learned last year. Lifting the waterers will help keep the shavings out.
We use one long feeder with chick starter for the first while, then they will move on to chicken grower feed. Did you notice we use a round brooder? It’s important to have rounded corners for the brooder house.
This is so that the chicks can’t all pile up on each other in a corner. They can easily smother each other so don’t use a brooder with corners.
The temperature in the room should be around 90 F (31C). A couple of days before they come, I plug in the brooder light and turn up the heat in the room. After the room temperature comes up, I start recording the temperature inside the brooder. I like using one of the hand held guns for that.
Here are chicks still in their box. They are sent regularly through the mail; chicks can live up to 3 days after hatching without food or water. At this point, they are hungry and very thirsty. They need to go in the brooder right away and start drinking and eating.
After the chicks arrive, it’s important to monitor them several times a day. Some chicks may end up with “pasty butt”, especially if the temperature of the room isn’t right.
You will recognize pasty butt when you see it! It needs to be treated; left alone it almost always just gets worse. Clean the chick’s butt carefully and very gently with warm water.
Don’t pick off dried feces; several soaks with a warm wet cloth will usually loosen it. You may need to do this a few times a day for a couple of days, but if looked after, the chicks will usually recover from this.
Thinking of raising meat birds?
Here’s how we fill our freezer with chickens.