Brooding, Feeding, and Raising Our Poultry
Always sanitize your brooding area using a chick-safe disinfectant/sanitizer, properly before placing new chicks.
*See our biosecurity suggestions for all customers as well as an explanation of what biosecurity means, listed here:
NEVER introduce chicks into a cold brooder, which has not been prewarmed.
DO NOT use ice cold water, instead, fill waterers before placing chicks, so that water is room temperature when placing chicks. Using cold water can chill young chicks.
Feeding and Nutrition Requirements By Category
Broilers (Meat Birds)
Require a 21-22% protein broiler chick starter feed. (Do not feed anything over 22% protein or under 21% protein as your starter feed)
Feed this for the first 4 weeks, if using organic/non-gmo feed, or for the first 2-3 weeks, if using conventional feed, then switch to a broiler grower feed. After 3 to 4 weeks of age, restrict access to feed, for 12 hours each day, to regulate growth rates. If using a "start and grow" feed, such as a Payback or Purina brand fryer ration, or meat bird feed, you may feed this sole ration for entire growout, but remember to restrict access to feed, after 3 weeks of age, for 12 hours each day, to regulate growth rates and avoid over feeding.
Always provide chick sized grit and plenty of fresh water for proper nutrient absorbtion.
Click here for a great article which talks about the proper way to raise Cornish Cross for meat production, written by Aaron Jenks, our General Manager.
Freedom Ranger, Red Ranger Broilers and White Bantam Silkie Broilers:
Require a 21-22% protein mash broiler chick starter feed. Feed this for the first 4 weeks, then switch to a broiler grower feed. It is not necessary to restrict feed. We recommend keeping feed available to the chicks 24/7.
Require a specific layer chick starter. Most layer starter feeds contain 18-20% protein, feed this layer starter feed, until 18-20 weeks of age, or the first egg, whichever comes first. Egg layer starter feeds are formulated to give chicks what they need to prepare their bodies for egg production. Provide chick sized grit and plenty of fresh water.
Once you receive the first eggs, you may switch to a layer pellet ration. With some feed configurations, if the label says to do so, a prelay or developer feed may be used in place of the layer starter feed, after 8 weeks of age, up to the point of lay. It is always recommend to switch to a layer pellet once the birds are in production. NEVER use a broiler or meat bird feed in place of a layer feed, they are formulated differently. We do not recommend using an "all flock" or "all purpose" type poultry feed in place of a layer ration, they are formulated differently, and are not intended for use with high production layer breeds, such as the breeds which we offer.
Typically, egg layer breeds will not lay well, or at all, if fed a meat bird feed.
*Always provide plenty of fresh water, oyster shell, and hen sized grit for your laying hens.
When ready to molt your mature birds, feed a 20% broiler feed and if using lighting, decrease lighting to below 10 hours per day. Note: this will cause your flock to stop laying entirely. We recommend allowing your flock to molt once every year to a year and a half. Allow your flock to molt for 3 to 4 weeks, then place them back on their layer feed diet, and bump your lighting back up above 12-14 hours of light per day, within 2-3 weeks, your birds should be back in production and laying again!
Require a 26% or higher, protein mash or crumble starter feed. 28% protein is optimum. DO NOT attempt to start our turkeys on a broiler starter feed (23% protein or less), as the risk of tendon and ligament damage, and a condition called "Spraddle Leg" increases.
Feed the turkey starter feed for the first 8 weeks, then switch to a turkey grower feed, with a crude protein level of 22%. Feed this until the poults are 14 weeks old, then move to a 16% protein turkey finisher feed to maintain weight until processing, and to obtain best results.
Ducks intended for general purposes or egg production should follow this schedule:
Always give ducklings access to water for at least an hour before feeding. We recommend always using a chick starter with 20% + protein for the first 10 weeks, switching to a 15% grower weeks 10-18, and a 16% layer after 18 weeks.
Ducks intendented for meat production should follow this schedule:
Always give ducklings access to water for at least an hour before feeding. We recommend using a chick starter with 20% + protein for the entire growout period, usually 7-7.5 weeks for Hybrid Jumbo Pekins, and 12-14 weeks for Khaki Campbells.
Click HERE to view our feed estimation chart for broilers, egg layer, or turkeys
BROODING DO's AND DONT'S
Brooding Do's and Don’t's
Do Not ☹
Use Kiln Dried Pine Shavings provides cushion, support and insulation. Kiln drying process kills mold spores and mildews, which can be toxic to chicks. Bedding pellets also work well.
Use Cedar Shavings, hay or straw
Sanitize the area and add clean shavings prior to chick arrival
Reuse bedding- disease vector
Brooding room should be 75-80 F prior to placing chicks
Expose to air drafts, chicks are easily chilled
Use a brooder with round corners, helps direct chicks to food and water and prevents piling
NEVER brood on exposed concrete or cold/slippery surfaces. Chicks lose heat through their feet.
Keep 2 thermometers in the brooding area, one in the area near the heat source and one in a cooler area. Try to record temperatures 3X daily
Use brooders with square corners, chicks can pile on each other when chicks are scared, or temperature is off
Use a brooder guard/corral
DO NOT substitute chick starter with anything else- no eggs, table scraps, or scratch (can be added with moderation but not a substitute)
Introduce chicks to water before feed, gently dip their beaks into the water. For turkeys: place marbles in water to prevent drowning. Use shallow chick waterers or consider using nipple drinkers to create an automatic chick waterer.
Use ice cold water, fill prior to placing chicks as cold water will chill them
*Deceased chicks in the morning? The most common cause is temperature fluctuations during the night*
*The most common cause of chick death is incorrect brooder temperature. *
The most common cause of early chick loss is incorrect brooder temperature.
REMEMBER, chicks as day olds are very similar to snakes or other reptiles, in that they cannot fully self regulate their body temperature for at least 3 to 4 weeks.
You are providing the source for the chicks' internal temperature.
As chicks get older, they do need less heat, so please refer to the temperature chart for approximate temperature settings.
We recommend keeping two thermometers within your brooder, one in the warmest area, and one in the coolest area. Record temperatures at least 3 times per day if possible. An alternative to this, is to use a cheap temperature recorder, which can keep track of brooder temperature even when you are not near the brooder. Most cheap temperature recorders can be purchased on Amazon or other online sites for $20-40.
As day olds, chick do not require much space (6-7 sq in/chick) in fact, too much space can cause chicks to wander away from the heat source, and then become chilled, which may cause chick loss.
With turkey poults, sometimes using marbles in the waterers can prevent drowning. Be sure to sanitize marbles before placing them in the water.
Before and after handing or working near your chicks, wash your hands. Chicks can carry bacteria which can be harmful to humans if ingested, and humans can introduce bacteria which can be detrimental to chick health.
- Ambient temperature should be 80-85 F in the brooding area (under heat lamp (90-95 F)
- Summer temperatures- Set brooder at 90 F
- Winter temperatures-Set brooder at 95 F
- This is the same for all poultry breeds
- Chicks/poults/ ducklings are exothermic for the first 3-4 weeks
- At night the temperature will need to be adjusted to increase the warmth in the brooder, for heat lamps this can be accomplished by lowering the heat lamp
Spread out wings
Panting/ Gular Fluttering
Huddling together under heat source
Laying prostrate (flat on the ground)
Quiet/or very loud, spread out around brooder, gathered at edges of brooder
Feet cold to touch
Raise the heat lamp to decrease temperature or reduce number of heat lamps
Lower heat lamp, check for drafts, increase number of heat lamps
OBSERVE your chicks. If they are too warm, they will spread away from the heat lamp, usually near the corners of the brooding area. If they are too cold, they will all be huddled directly underneath the heat lamp.
LISTEN to your chicks. While chirping is normal, excessively loud chicks, are typically stressed chicks.
Check to make sure that chicks are not too warm or too cold. Over time you will decrease the amount of heat.
RECORD when changes in temperature are made or observed.
Use non-pasteurized apple cider vinegar as a preventative measure to ensure and promote good chick gut health and help replace electrolytes lost during shipping, due to shipping stress. 1 table spoon per gallon of water is typically adequate. This can improve chick vigor and overall chick quality dramatically. Alternately, consider using an electrolyte or probiotic supplement or other type of stress mitigant, in the water.
Please call us at 541-928-8928 with any questions, we are always here to help!
Or feel free to use the resource listed below, for more information.
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