Most important! BE PREPARED: Have your brooder operating at the optimal temperature. GO TO THE POST OFFICE AND PICK UP YOUR CHICKS AS SOON AS THEY ARRIVE. Let your postmaster know they can call you anytime the chicks come in. The chicks need to be put in the brooder and be fed and watered right away.
Baby chicks need WATER, FEED, HEAT, (a draft shield is essential), LIGHT, VENTILATION, AND SPACE.
Have a one gallon waterer for each 50 chicks. MOST BABY CHICK LOSS IS BECAUSE THE CHICK DOES NOT START TO DRINK RIGHT AWAY. WATER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FEED THE FIRST DAY. NEVER LET THEM RUN OUT OF WATER. We strongly recommend putting vitamins and electrolytes in the water when you start your chicks.
Cornish Rock Broilers:
Give your chicks a commercial chick starter with a coccidiostat in it. Broilers do best if you feed them 20% to 21% protein feed in a crumble form, after feeding them 1lb of starter each, they can then be switched to 20-21% Mash Type Feed or fed a crumble diet from start to finish.
Do not feed broilers less than 18% protein...not ever! Do not mix corn with the broiler feed, it will dilute the protein levels and you will have nothing but trouble! We recommend restricting feed at night after 3 weeks of age, the easiest way to do this, is to have your light on a timer and allow them 8-9 hours of darkness.
Keep your chicks warm. A brooder temperature of 90 to 95 degrees is recommended the first few days. A DRAFT SHIELD IS ESSENTIAL. After 48 hours, begin to reduce the brooder temperature by 1 degree each day down to 75 degrees by 3 weeks of age. The room temperature where the chicks are brooded should be near 80 degrees the first two weeks. If baby chicks huddle together, they are too cold. If they scatter, spread out and eat and drink, the temperature is comfortable.
Starting the third day, sprinkle baby chick grit on the feed daily as if you were salting the food.
If you use a heat bulb, this will also serve as the light you need. Otherwise, limit light, particularly on broilers, to natural day length or 8 hours (whichever is longer).
NEVER USE STRAW FOR LITTER. Use wood shavings or ground corn cobs. If you use a fine product, such as the fine wood shavings or rice hulls, cover with paper for the first two days, but DO NOT leave paper down more than two days.
Provide plenty of ventilation during the entire brooding period. Have good ventilation but avoid drafts. Keep fresh air moving and keep ammonia concentration at a minimum.
Allow plenty of space for your chicks. From 1/2 square foot per bird at day old to 1 square foot per bird from 6 to 8 weeks. Allow 1/2 square foot for broilers. For baby chicks, provide 2-one gallon water founts and 100″ feeder space per 100 chicks.
Ducklings and Goslings:
Both Ducklings and Goslings should be watered immediately on arrival. It is not necessary to add any medication or sugar to the water. Start them on a 20% Duck and Goose (or chick) Non Medicated Starter. Keep them on that ration for the first 2-3 weeks. You may then switch them to a 16-18% Grower ration. Keep ducklings on that ration until slaughter. When gosling reach 3-4 weeks of age, you can commence feeding them cracked grain. For both ducklings and goslings, providing them with smaller pellet size feed is best although not mandatory. One thing is very important when growing waterfowl and that is that you must never let waterfowl run out of water. Should they run out of water and still have access to feed, a "choking" problem may result. Waterfowl need water to "wash down" the feed they eat.
Feed and watering space is very important with all poultry, but particularly so with ducklings and goslings. Figure 2 inches of feeder space per bird for the first 2 weeks, 3 inches per bird to 6 weeks, and 4 inches per bird after that. On watering space, figure 2-3 inches per bird from the beginning. If you get into "hot weather" periods, you must be sure to provide additional watering space.
Turkey Poults: Use wood shaving for bedding, do not put down paper, as this will result in the poults slipping around and getting spraddled legged. Use a 26-28% Turkey Starter, for the first 6 weeks, then they can then be fed a 20% finisher. Do not put Turkeys in with chicken, as they could contract a disease from the them and die.