Friday, April 10, 2009

Comparing Banding-Age Chicks Lesson

How do you think these chicks are doing? (Be sure to click on the photo to enlarge.)

There are three times when chicks are especially vulnerable, the first 48 hours, banding phase, and weaning. I will take the weaning phase in a future blog. In this posting, let's review the first and second vulnerable phase.

Their very first meal is absorption of the egg yolk but after that they are totally dependent on the hen to feed them an a adequate amount. In these first 48 hours, we can tell which chicks are well fed as those that are well fed will have fluffy baby fuzz. And if make it through the first couple days, most hens will feed them and they will continue looking fuzzy with their hair sticking straight out!

The next vulnerable phase is at about five days when the chicks are approaching banding. It is critical to keep a careful watch on their color to be sure it is rosy pink and not red which would mean that even though they are stuffed, the diet may be too rich for them and cause nestling diarrhea. In that case, their skin is sticky and very red and the droppings are loose and not formed. In that case, make sure their vent is not sealed shut with an invisible coat of excrement and immediately stop the extra hard boiled egg, drop any sugar or glucose if you are using any as it will make the dehydration worse and add dry ABBA green 92, and greens to the diet.

But besides the desert rosy pink color, is there another indicated that they are doing well? Compare these two chick which are nearly banding age.


A. They are both doing quite well for banding age chicks.
B. The variegated chick is doing better than the clear chick.
C. The clear chick is doing better than the variegated chick.
D. They both are doing poorly for banding age chicks.

A chick that is doing well should have an obvious creamy/yellow fat layer deposited immediately under the skin. It is first seen on the top of the rump near the tail and expands up the back and around the under lower belly to the vent.

Focus on the variegated chick and you will see that it has no fat deposit under the skin on its rump. The lighter color near the tail is lighter in color but it is not a creamy/yellow fat layer. This chick is thin and will take several more days before it will be banded. I suspect this is a female less assertive chick. Female chicks are much more likely to die than aggressive male chicks. If possible, it could be moved to a nest with less chicks so that it is fed more! So it is not sick, just puny!

The clear chick has a huge fat layer. It had fat covering the top of his rump several days ago and now it extends way up its back, totally covers its bottom, and is clearly visible on his under side covering the side area to his leg. It is easier for you to see the fat layer on your chicks than to get a photo showing it! The answer is C, the clear chick is doing better than the variegated chick! A fat layer is important as chicks with large fat layers are easier to wean and do well during the weaning process!

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