GENERAL CARE OF BABY BIRDS
- Feed: Use a good, name brand feed, especially for the first 8 weeks. This is the most critical time for the birds as you are building their foundation. Buying cheap feed is usually more expensive in the long run.
- Water: NEVER let them run out of water! It is best to give them lukewarm or room temperature water. Some people give them electrolytes or vitamins in their water for about 5 days. These can be purchased from most feed stores or poultry supply catalogs.
- Heat: Heat bulbs or light bulbs can be used as a source of heat. Adjust the heat so that the temperature directly below the light is a little warmer than the recommended temperature for your species (see beolow). The birds will adjust themselves to the area they like, giving them a space to "warm up" if necessary. The birds also need an area large enough that they can get away from the heat.
- Space: Do not overcrowd! A general rule is 1/2 square foot per bird for the first 4 weeks, then 3/4 square foot per bird. Obviously, this will be slightly more for turkeys and geese.
- Draft/Ventalation: Both drafts and lack of ventalation are very harmful for baby birds. Fresh air is very important, but be sure in supplying it that a draft is not created. Provide draft barriers by using cardboard, feed bags or towels around the bottom of the floor space. If the birds are on the floor, a 1 foot high cardboard shield around them should be sufficient.
- Litter: It is important to provide a surface that is not slippery to prevent splayed legs. Shavings, straw, ground corn cob all work well. Be sure to change the bedding frequently.
Species specific care
- Large Fowl:
- 0 to 8 weeks: chick starter, 16-18% protein
- 8 weeks to adult: layena, 15-17% protein
- 0 to 8 weeks: gamebird starter, 30% protein
- 8 weeks to adult: gamebird layena or flight conditioner, 19-20%
- Birds 0 to 1-1/2 weeks: use drown proof waters or rocks/marbles in water fount to prevent drowning.
- For baby chicks the temperature should be 90-95 degrees for the first week and then reduce the temperature by 5 degrees per week until its 70 degrees. The chicks will let you know if they are comfortable. If they are peeping constantly they are uncomfortable. If they huddle under the light, they are too cold. If they are pressed up against the walls away from the heat, they are too hot.
Turkeys are known to be somewhat dumb, so make sure they know where the water and feed are. Dip their beaks in the water upon arrival. It may be helpful to place colorful marbles in the water and feed to attract their attention. Feed them commercial turkey feed, following the manufacturer's instructions on when to switch to from starter to grower. For temperature requirements, see the chicken section.
DUCKLINGS & GOSLINGS
0 to 8weeks: Meat builder, 20% protein
8 weeks to adult: duck & goose, 18-20% protein.
DO NOT use a medicated feed for waterfowl!
Never give laying rations to young waterfowl!
Use vitamin mixes at 1/2 the recommended strength. Do not allow the babies to get into the water and become soaked until they have fully feathered. They will drown or become chilled. Use a regular chicken water fount set on top of wire small enough to prevent feet injury and then on top of a tray that will catch the water to help eliminate much of the mess. Waterfowl love greens and should be provided with them regularly.
- 0 to 3 days: 90-92 degrees
- 4 to 7 days: 85-90 degrees
- After 7 days, drop approximatley 5 degrees per week until you reach room temperature. They must be able to get away form the heat source.
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