for mail order poultry
First thing first, you need to know what supplies to have!
1. Red plastic tray feeder. Approximately one for every 25 chicks.
2. Gallon waterers with red plastic base. Approximately one for every 25 chicks.
3. Fine pine shavings for your bedding. Make sure they are fine, not flake.
4. 250 watt red heat bulb and heat lamp. Approximately one for every 50 chicks.
6. Brooder. We recommend the use of the horse troughs or make one out of plywood. Approximately 1/2sqft per bird will be needed.
7. 18-22% protein medicated (or non-medicated) starter/grower feed. This feed will vary based on the type of poultry. Ducks, Guineas, and Broilers need 22% while layer breeds will do well on just a 18-20%. If you ordered a variety of birds, try to get a 20% feed to meet in the middle.
*You can use a GQF brooder, or you can order a kit from SureHatch.
**many of these supplies are available at your local feed store.
***please note the use of HEAT PLATES is NOT RECOMMENDED! They are not warm enough for MAIL ORDER POULTRY. Please remember these chicks are not what you hatched yourself. They have been in the mail for 1-3 days and have different startup care needs.
Prior to arrival, you need to be ready!
Have your brooder set up and ready for the chicks. Shavings need to be 2-3 inches deep. The feeder and waterer should be close by the heat lamp, but not directly under it. Directly under your heat lamp the temperature should read 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit; however, the whole brooder does not need to be this warm. Adjust the temperature under the light by raising it or lowering it. The brooder needs to be free of any drafts and the chicks need enough room to get away from the heat if they get too warm. Personally, we recommend checking out the link above to the SureHatch brooder to see how it is laid out. This is how your brooder should look.
On arrival, you need to listen closely!
Your chicks have likely been in the mail for 1-3 days and they are ready to eat and drink! If all went well in shipping, you should have nice healthy baby chicks. Sometimes the chicks can be a little sluggish, but no need to worry as long as you listen up. Add 1/2 cup of sugar to your gallon waterers and use luke warm water to dissolve the sugar and also to warm the insides of your baby chicks up. Using cool water, you are rally making it take longer to warm up the chicks. Using warm sugar water you are giving them energy fast and warming them up fast. Keep using the sugar water for about 12 hours. This will really help boost your chicks! Take each chick one by one and dip their beak gently into the waterer. Show them the food, but the main goal is the water on delivery. Watch your chicks closely over the next few hours. Change over to regular water 12 hours after delivery. If the chicks are huddled up under the light they are too cold. There could be a draft of cool air hitting them or they may need an additional heat lamp depending on the air space they have. RULE OF THUMB: if the chicks are spread throughout the brooder, some are eating, some are drinking, some are under the light, and some are just being crazy... your brooder is perfect. If the chicks are huddled under the light, they are too cold. If the chicks are spread as far as they can from the light and likely against the walls of the brooder, they are too hot. Watch your chicks. They will tell you what they need!
Days and weeks following arrival, you will make some adjustments!
The chicks will grow, start getting feathers, eating more and drinking more. They will need more space, more feeders, and more waterers as they grow. Check your chicks often. If they are running out of food and water, try investing in more feeders and waterers or simply check them more to keep it full. With the exception of Cornish Cross, you do not want them to run out of food and water. As your chicks grow, the need for supplemental heat will decrease. It is recommended to decrease the heat by 5 degrees each week until the chicks are fully feathered or the temperature with supplemental heat is similar to those conditions without it. When you transition your chicks from the brooder to the actual grow out pen, just keep a good eye on them. If you notice they are cold, they may still need the heat lamp at some level. As they grow you will switch from a starter/grower feed to a layer pellet or a "All Flock" feed. Consult with your local feed store for the best feed for your particular type of poultry.
There's no doubt that these little chicks will grow into big chickens, ducks, and guineas one day. When they do, you need to be ready. Adult chickens require a minimum of 5sqft per bird in a barn. Ducks require slightly more than chickens. Have your coop preditor proof and don't forget your laying boxes! You can purchase supplies you need for laying chickens from our friends at HatchingTime or GQF.
All in all, taking care of chicks does require a lot of time and effort. If you cannot provide the above supplies or something very similar, you will void our guarantees after delivery (meaning no 24-hour guarantee on the chicks). The first few days are the most important. If you are not ready for them, you are setting yourself up for failure. Please be ready for your chicks! We want you to have a great experience and making sure you are ready is one of the most important parts! In the event you do have a loss in your order in shipping or within 24 hours of the delivery, please head over to our Guarantees/Policies page and make a loss report. We will be here to assist you!