Poultry Husbandry Series

Good results are usually obtained by the use of a light at night in the brooder. This light must not be too strong, not more than 10 watts, just enough to enable the chicks to see there way about. They will then continue feeding during the night, and increase in food consumed will result in more rapid growth. This, of course, only applies during early hatches, as later chicks get enough exercise during the day.

All drinking fountains should be carefully disinfected, and after being filled should be placed in the brooder so that the water may be warm before the chicks come to it. Sour milk, if obtainable, is a good drink for the chicks, and this is best served in the earthenware or wooden troughs, as the milk is very quickly contaminated by metal containers.

It sometimes happens that chicks get overheated while rail, and when this happens there is a chance of them getting chilled when they are unloaded. It is well then to meet the chicks when they arrive, and get them into the brooder as soon as possible. When the chicks are being unpacked it is well to dip the beak of each chick into the water trough. They will be thirsty after the journey, and may take a long time to find the water if left to themselves.

Just prior to leaving the shell, each chick draws in a large supply of food in the form of egg yolk, and great harm may be done by feeding the chicks before this natural food has been assimilated. Give plenty of water at all times but do not be in a hurry to feed and feed very little at each meal. A very good method of starting the chicks is to cover the whole floor of the brooder with newspapers, on which is scattered some fine chicken grit. This will ensure the presence of grit in the gizzard before the arrival of any food.

The best food for chicks is the best chick feed that money can buyćƒ¼nothing less. Feed a really good brand of chick starter in the manner described for grit, and they chicks will soon be putting it away like little men. Feeding should be done four or fives times a day and the chicks should be allowed to have all day to eat, in from ten to fifteen minutes. After each meal remove all feed, so that the chicks will be hungry for the next meal when it comes.

On the third day place hoppers, filled with feed in the brooder Gradually the chicks will get used to feeding from the hoppers, and when they do the feeding on paper may be discontinued.

There is everything that a chick requires in a high grade chick starter, and this includes green feed. However, after the first ten days very good results will be obtained by adding some finley chopped raw onion to the diet. Feed the onion for ten minutes twice a day or for twenty minutes once a day on clean boards or paper, or in hoppers. Never have any feed about to get stale. Although it does not seem to be known generally, the onion is a perfectly wonderful tonic for chicks. Onions prevents both the extremes of constipation and diarrhoea, and keeps the chicks right up on their toes.

There are some poultry men who swear by the use of charcoal for in the chick feed,  but while we agree that charcoal does have a purifying effect on the system by absorbing gases which are generated in the intestines we do not think that this claim can justify us in fulfilling useful space in the chickens interior with material of no nutritive value. A hopper of sharp grit should always be available to the chicks, and some finely ground charcoal may be mixed with this. While the charcoal may do no perceptible good it certainly can do no harm.

Watch the pigment in the legs of the chicks as this is a sure guide to the vitality of the bird. Remember  that you are feeding to make the chicks grow and that it is possible to force them to the detriment of their health. If the pigment is seen to fade, feed the chicks a little high grade chick scratch, but remember that it is the mash or starter which is going to develop the bird, and keep the gain down to a minimum, not more than one teaspoonful per hundred chicks from the ages of two days to a month.

From about the fifth or sixth day, when the chicks are feeding entirely from the hoppers, There may be signs of constipation. Watch the chicks very carefully, and if they appear to be suffering in this way, place a shallow wooden tray, filled with wheat bran before them. It is well to fit the top of the ray with a frame covered with an inch or two inch wire netting as this prevents the chicks from scratching the bran out on the floor. After warning against feeding too much grain it may seem strange to advocate unlimited feeds of bran. Naturally one would assume that while the bran was available the consumption of mash would fall off. Actually the reverse is true. Bran has a gentle laxative effect on the chicks and they return with renewed interest to their feeding. There is another important factor with regard to the feeding of bran. All the time you are feeding the chicks you are thinking of the day when these same chicks have [sic] grown to the age of netting you an income. Now if you feed a chick concentrated feed there is little work to be done in the intestine, as all the nutriment the chicken require [sic] is drawn from a small bulk of food. Hence the intestine will remain small right up to maturity. But, if you feed some bran, the intestines are enlarged with a view to extracting the nutriment from this bulky feed. Later on. when you feed concentrated laying mash to the birds in the laying house, this large intestine will ensure ample capacity for the extraction of nutriment both for heavy egg yield and for retained vigor.

Hard as it may sometimes seem, it does not pay to doctor sick or crippled chicks; these should be culled out as soon as seen, and killed.

– Poultry Husbandry, The Charlottetown Guardian. June 2, 1934

Source: Islandnewspapers.ca