CARING FOR CHICKS

Chicks without a broody hen to look after them will need to be kept in a warm brooder box for the first few weeks of their life as they are not able to regulate their own body temperature. A cardboard box bedded with absorbent wood shavings with a heat lamp suspended above it is usually sufficient. Chicks will huddle together if they are too cold or move away from the heat source and pant if they are too hot, so ensuring the chicks have sufficient space to do this is essential. A temperature of around 35C is ideal for the first week and can then be reduced by a few degrees per week until the chicks are 6 to 8 weeks of age and able to maintain their own body temperatures without the need for additional heat source.

Good hygiene is essential when caring for chicks as they are particularly susceptible to infections when they are young, so regular cleaning of the brooder, all feeders and water containers are vital. Chicks should have free access to water and suitable food, high protein chick crumbs are recommended for the first 6 weeks and grower pellets can then be introduced and fed until the birds are ready to move on to layers pellets at 16 weeks of age.