Raise chicks yourself
Rearing chicks requires the necessary attention. The rearing of chicks from an incubator is particularly difficult and must be closely monitored. On the other hand, with correct treatment, the chances of survival of the chicks are high. Letting a hen hatch the chicks is often easier because the mother hen will take care of the chicks. But also with this method there are a number of things to keep in mind.
How you raise the chicks in the first place depends entirely on the breeding method used. The eggs may have been incubated in the incubator or by a hen. In the first case, you will have to raise the chicks yourself. In the second case, you have a mother hen who will largely take care of the chicks.
Chicks that are born in the incubator should not be removed from this until the chicks have completely dried up. The chicks do not need any food for the first twenty-four hours because they have received enough nutrition from the yolk. You can give them water. Make sure this is not a deep tank, the chicks can drown in this. Therefore, it is better to water in a bowl with marbles or in a special water tower.
When the chicks have dried, you can transfer them to a breeding mother. This is a glass or wooden container with wood fibers on the bottom. The artificial mother must be heated with a heat lamp. In the beginning, hang it about ten centimeters above the bottom of the container. Place a thermometer on the bottom of the container to keep an eye on the temperature. In the beginning the temperature should be around 38 degrees. This can be slowly reduced as the chicks get older. At three weeks, a temperature of 25 degrees is sufficient. Also keep an eye on the behavior of the chicks. When the chicks lie close together, they are usually too cold. If they are a bit further apart, the temperature is good. Finally, make sure that the artificial mother is always kept clean to prevent diseases.
After two to three weeks, the chicks can be transferred to a real chicken coop. This coop should consist of an inner coop and a covered run, closed off from other chickens. Preferably the bottom of the pen and the run is covered with wood fibers. When it is warm enough outside, around 25 degrees Celsius, the chicks no longer need to be heated. At colder temperatures, the coop still needs to be heated with a heat lamp, under which the chicks lie down when it gets too cold. When the chicks squeak loudly and lie against each other, they are often too cold. Chicks that are too cold can die.
After about eight weeks, the chicks have a chick moult. They are then more sensitive to the cold. After this molt, the chickens can in principle just stay outside without heating. If it is late summer and the temperatures are cold, the chicks need to be heated longer. From sixteen weeks on, the colder days are no longer a problem.
First let the chicks get used to the other chickens. This can be done by first separating the run with a piece of gauze, so that they can see each other, but that the large chickens cannot peck the chicks to death. If this goes well, you can leave them together under supervision. If this also goes well, the chicks can be placed with the other chickens. From sixteen weeks it is a good time to start with this.
If the eggs have been hatched by a hen, the mother hen will almost always look after the chicks. She will keep them warm, protect them and teach them to eat and drink. But here too the chicks and mother hen must be shielded from other chickens. In addition, extra attention must be paid to hygiene, as the mother hen has more faeces that can also contain parasites. Therefore, clean the loft extra often. The mother hen can be returned to the other chickens earlier, but also in this case, let them get used to each other first. The chicks can be slowly placed with the other chickens from sixteen weeks on.
Chicks need special food for growth. In the beginning, chicks are given rearing meal, which can be replaced a few days later with rearing pellets. After six to eight weeks you can slowly start mixing the food with maintenance food. Also feed the chicks chicken grit and stomach grit from the start. This must also be very nice during the first days. Finally, after a few days you can start giving green food such as clovers, grass and bird’s-wall. Increase the amount of green food slowly.