June 27, 2012

Beak-To-Butt Checkup Is Critical!

Three Sweet Buff Polish Cresteds
This is our first experience with chicks so I did A LOT of research on the internet, asking LOTS of questions and generally bugging the heck out of our chicken-owning friends before we even ordered the chicks.  When the chicks were delivered yesterday I knew to check everyone from beak-to-butt. They all seemed super healthy but the yellow Polish Crested had a small glob what looked like tangled brown string stuck on her rear. In the back of my mind a warning bell went off and I got back on the computer and looked up pasting over (also called pasty butt).

The little blob did not look like pasty butt in the photos but I was concerned so I called the hatchery she was purchased from My Pet Chicken.  I talked to a very knowledgeable person. By my description of it and the fact that it was not covering the vent she determined that it was umbilical cord.  I know, chickens don't give live birth, but it is the yolk that is giving life to the chick hatchesAMAZING, huh. They usually fall off during hatching but about one in one hundred do not for some unknown reason. Some of my very experienced chicken-keeping friends had never even heard of this. I was told to just watch it close it would fall off on its own and in the meantime I could keep a bit of Neosporin Ointment it as a precaution. If the other chicks started pecking at it I would have to separate her from the rest till it fell off. We were very fortunate to not have a case of pasty butt...!

Watch your chicks very closely ...Pasting over or pasty butt is when poop dries on the vent and blocks the seal shut. Pasty butt literally stops up the chick so they can't excrete their poop and can be potentially fatal. Check each chick one by one for 'pasty butt' and clean off any poop on their vent with a q-tip moistened with warm water or vegetable oil.  If it does not come off easily do not pick or rub at it. There are step-by-step instructions online or you can call a hatchery for treatment info.  It needs to be treated immediately and gently. Feeding the chicks cornmeal or ground raw oatmeal can help clear up pasty butt. Be sure and provide chick-sized grit if you feed your chicks anything other than chick starter feed.

No one is sure what causes it but it can be anything from wrong diet, sudden changes in temperatures or stress of travel from the hatchery. Continue to check Beak to butts for the first few days. If you are concerned about anything don't hesitate to call someone with experience!



June 26, 2012

Delivery By U.S. Postal Service !

The chicks are here! The Overnight Mail Carrier delivered our one-day-old chicks on his first stop this morning (I'm still in awe of this even being possible)! They came in a standard shipping box with a lot of air holes and 'Live Animals' stamped all over. I opened the box part and inside was a sweet little nest made of excelsior, a small heating pad and six healthy, noisy, but confused looking chicks.

Six Sweet Chicks

I had the brooder ready for them - clean, dry and warm- so in they went! For the first week the temp is kept at 95 degrees.  Warmth for the chicks is extremely important The temp should drop only 5 degrees each week till at 75 degrees with no sudden extreme temp changes.

The water container, I realized, was more suited a a flock of six or eight grown chicks  -way to big for these babies. I replaced it with a smaller bowl of water and some small stones in it to keep them from falling in and drowning (I'm saving the larger water container for their teenage period).

Queen Of The Water And Rocks
I know that sometimes newly hatched chicks have to have their beaks dunked in water to learn to drink but they found the water and all drank without having to be taught. Same thing with the food! No eating or drinking issues! Yay! I also did a beak-to-butt check on each one to make sure there were no obvious problems. I did find something on the Polish Crested but had no idea what it was and it really didn't look life threatening...but needs to be watched.

Their first day was chaotic for them and me. They spent hours running non-stop in circles, checking everything out. I know that hatching is exhausting for a chick  and they would sleep a lot. Not these...  though they did take a lot of quick, short, stand up naps. I did wonder, since they weren't slowing down, if there might really be something wrong so I check in with some other chick friends and they assured me the six-ring-circus was absolutely normal!  The fact that they had no physical issues that kept them from bouncing off the walls I took as another good sign. Yay!

I'm keeping them and their brooder dry, clean and at 95 degrees. I also need to keep an eye on the strange spot on the Polish Crested.