Basic Care 101


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With all baby poultry, there are four major factors involved to raise them successfully to maturity. Feed, water, heat, and light. If you follow the basic guidelines and apply common sense, you should have many rewards raising your birds!

Your local feed store will carry a variety of feeds for poultry, and can supply you with necessary medications, vitamins, books, water dispensers, feed trays, or other items to help you care for the growing and mature flock.

Baby Chicks, Guineas and Turkeys - brood 4 to 6 weeks

Feed- For the first eight weeks starter crumbles should be fed; feeding medicated starter only to baby chickens. To help the birds find the feed, sprinkle some on a white paper towel and place the chicks in front of it. They will soon peck at the small crumbs, and will quickly learn to feed out of feeder trays. After eight weeks, they can be maintained on grower pellets. For laying hens, layer rations (pellets) give the best results.

Water- Making sure as not to over heat the water, place the water dispenser furthest away from the heat source. We advise you to add vitamins to the drinking water as well. Check with your feed store or poultry supply house for commercial vitamin paks.

Heat- Whether you use a commercial brooder or a home made box brooder with a heat lamp, it is very important to maintain a steady temperature. For the first week, the temperature should be set at 90. Reduce heat 5 each week until you reach 70. At 4 weeks of age, 70 can be maintained in the brooder until the birds are cooped out. If you are brooding your birds in a homemade brooder, a red 250 watt bulb will give you best results. At all times, be sure the heat lamp is securely fastened above the brooder to avoid the risk of fire.

Light- This pertains to all baby poultry. Your birds will need at least 24 hrs of light for their first five to eight weeks. If you use a heat lamp to brood your birds, that will suffice for all the light they will need. If not heating with a heat lamp, you can use a 60 watt bulb to provide light.

Ducklings and Goslings - brood 4 to 6 weeks

Feed- It is very important not to feed waterfowl medicated starter crumbles. Medicated feeds are formulated for chicks only, which contains levels of medication that is toxic to waterfowl. There is no medicated feed on the market that has been developed for ducklings and goslings. Feed your birds a gamebird starter to the age of eight weeks, and from there on you can maintain them on gamebird grower pellets. Most commercial feeds for ducks and geese are labeled as gamebird starters or feed.

Water- Ducklings and goslings can really make a mess with their water. A very important rule is to prevent them from getting into the water. They lack natural oils which is provided from their mothers feathers to repel water. If allowed to bathe or have extended exposure to water, they will quickly become saturated, chilled, or drown. By nature, young waterfowl love to splash and dabble in the water. This habit can create much labor and heartache in rearing them, as it fouls the water, feed, and bedding within the brooder. Water dispenser access should only allow for their bills to enter. Be sure to keep the feed a distance from the water, to prevent either from fouling.

Heat/Light- Follow the same guide as with chicks. Monitor your birds, notice if they are huddled close together as if too cool, or spread apart while panting as if too hot. You may adjust the temperature accordingly to meet their comfort.

Brooder Environment - Maintenance

For all types of fowl, a draft free, warm, clean, and dry place with a endless supply of food and water is all they'll need to survive. In cold climates, it may be necessary to brood beyond five weeks. Be sure your brooding accommodations are large enough to comfortably house the growing birds.

Absorbent Bedding- Can be straw, wood shavings, or ground corn cob. Do not use cedar chips, sawdust, or treated wood chips.

Flooring- The surface under the bedding must not be smooth. A slick floor in the brooder will cause the bedding to separate, exposing the surface which can cause a young bird's feet to slip unnaturally sideways. This is known as spraddled legs, a condition that can seriously effect the quality of a bird's life, if not treated. We recommend using a fine wire mesh placed under the bedding for better traction.

Lighting- For the first five weeks, continuous light should be available so the growing birds can eat and drink at will. Have spare bulbs handy.

Grit- Place a small container of grit or clean sand in the brooder. It is necessary for your birds to ingest some grit to naturally aid in breaking down their feed for digestion.

Water- Food particles, bedding, and feces will frequently enter the water and quickly foul it. Be aware of the water quality, and make sure to change it as needed.

CornerStone Farm is not a commercial poultry hatchery. We hatch quality over quantity. This practice offers sales of select young and mature fowl. We do not ship day old birds.

CornerStone Farm
525 Barnes Rd.
Red Oak, Virginia 23964
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