Chick Moving Day!
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Chick moving day is a crucial day on the farm. A lot has to be done before and after the chicks arrive, but the results speak for themselves – a healthy flock!
Even before the chicks arrive, the barn must be prepped and ready. Chicks have very little immunity so it is essential that the barn is spotless (see this post on Biosecurity). The sparkling clean barn is pre-heated to a balmy 35 C.
Chicks are transported from the hatchery to the pullet farm just after they have hatched (pecked their way out of the egg). They will have already absorbed the whole yolk, and the nutrients from helps the chicks on their journey to the farm. Since chicks can’t create their own body heat yet, the whole truck is heated!
It is important that chicks start to eat and drink right away. Some feed is sprinkled outside of the trough to encourage the chicks to begin pecking at their surroundings. This is how a chick learns what food is – by pecking at everything! They may even peck at their feces! This is actually a good thing. Eating a little bit will help them develop good gut bacteria that will protect them from diseases.
Chickens are a precocial species. That means they are on the move and able to survive as soon as they hatch from the egg (unlike chickens, humans are altricial, which makes sense because babies are pretty much helpless at birth). Chicks may need some assistance learning how to use certain resources, like our nipple drinkers (see image below). We help them learn by going through the barn and tapping the end of each drinker so that a water droplet appears. We may also pre-fill the drinker cups with water. Once one chick learns, the rest of the group will follow and learn how to do it for themselves.
Chicks are very resilient but it is still important to keep a close eye on them, especially for the first few days. Chicks will tell you what they need depending on how they behave: if they are huddled, they may be too cold; if they are really spread out, they might be too warm; if they are making a lot of noise, they may be fearful or anxious (this is what a chick that is stuck or alone will do).
Giving chicks a great start is the key to having a strong, healthy, well-adapted flock!