The following is basic information regarding chicken care. If you have an concerns about the health of a chicken you have purchased from Craig's Farm, please don't hesitate to call Crystal as preventative care will fix most problems. Individual circumstances may impact the health of your chicken, so a quick chat with Crystal may help quickly identify the issue.
Care of Day Old Chicks
Baby chicks require special care as they are fragile. It is important to provide the following:
- A brooder The chicks should be kept in a box that is well ventilated, but without drafts
- A heat source The brooder needs to be kept constantly at 32 to 35 degrees Celsius. The heat light should be kept at one end of the brooder so chicks can move away if they get too warm. Chicks should sit around the light. If they are too close, it is too cold, if they are far away it is too hot. Check regularly to make sure the chicks are not too cold or too hot, as both will kill them.
- Water must always be available, changed regularly and kept cool as chicks do not like to drink warm water. Check to make sure your chicks are drinking. If not, dip their beak in the water until they start drinking on their own. Dehydration will kill chicks of all ages.
- Food Chick starter should be available at all times as this provides all the nutrients they need. Chicks will not over eat. Check to make sure your chicks are eating.
Moving Chicks from Indoors to Outdoors
As chicks grow they become more hardy.
Day old chicks should be kept at 32 to 35 degrees Celsius. Each week the temperature can be reduced by around 3 degrees. This may be done by raising the light, which will need to be done as the chicks grow taller. At 4 weeks of age the heat light can be turned off as the chicks should be kept at 20 to 23 degrees Celsius. It is important that the chicks remain in a draft free environment, but can be taken outside, under supervision, on warm days. It is important they are supervised to avoid attack by cats or other animals and to make sure they don't get cold.
Once they are 8 weeks of age they should be old enough to stay outside in all weather, as long as they have a coop where they can sleep and get out of the wind and weather.
See the facebook page for ideas on coops, check the photo albums that start with 'coop'.
Introducing Chickens to an Established Flock
If you want to add new chickens to ones you already have it is important that they are the same size, as the chickens will want to establish a pecking order. It won't matter if the chicken is a different breed, but if the new chicken is smaller it can be bullied quite badly. There will be a little disruption as the new order is established, but it is best to let this run its course and it should be sorted out in a couple of days. Only intervene if a chicken gets hurt.
The other option, if you have a clucky hen, is to introduce day old chicks (or give her fertilised eggs to hatch). The day old chicks will integrate with the group as the mother will care for them.
Summer care of chicken
During hot weather it is important for chickens to have a shady, well ventilated area to sit and cool water. Water should be in the shade close to where the chickens are as on very hot days, chickens will not want to leave to shade to get to water. Putting an ice block in the water will help keep it cool as chickens do not like to drink warm water.
We offer both vaccinated and unvaccinated chickens against Mareks. Although next season we are hoping to offer all stock for sale at Craig's farm as being vaccinated.
The vaccine is 80% effective and covers 2 types of Mareks, although there is approximately 20 types. The vaccine is not fully effective until 2 weeks after administration. Chicks that come into contact with other chickens, either directly or indirectly, can still be infected during this time (chicks hatched under a clucky hen have been exposed before the opportunity to vaccinate).
Most vaccines are sold in lots of 1,000, as the minimum, so are designed for large scale operations with large numbers of chickens housed in a limited area, leading to increased likelihood of disease. Few breeders of heritage (pure) breed chickens are in this position. Control of the environment and quarantining are the keys to minimising the risk of disease, which is also the case for most backyard owners.
Other Information / Links
Following are links to other useful websites, facebook posts and videos:
Care and Diet
Illness and Pests