Tuesday, February 7, 2012

To Intervene or Not?

Time to talk about newborn chick intervention.

When do I assist the hen with feeding? When is it best to let her handle it herself? Or when should I foster the chicks?

I basically believe the hen who feeds her chicks herself is the very best option! But how do we know she is doing a good job? Some breeders look for food in the crop but unless they are stuffed it does not mean they are not being fed well. Instead look at the baby fuzz, if it is plentiful and sticking straight out making the chicks look like a fuzzy ball, they are in good shape. Any skin you see is rosy-pink.

If the chick has fuzz stuck to its skin, leaving it mostly bare looking or if its color is yellow or gray and you see it shrinking, you must intervene. I have good luck with Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula and Scenic Hand Feeding Formula. Be sure to make it very thin for new chicks.

Should you happen to have another hen feeding her own chicks and only one or two of her own and the same size, move the chick to the foster mother. Most foster mothers will feed if the chick hatches under her or if she is already feeding her own chicks. Just moving a chick to a setting hen without chicks is very high risk.

I like to set five or six hens or more to hatch on the same day to increase my options. That means I will hold some eggs a few extra days so they can all be set to hatch on the same day.

In the photo above, the largest chick is doing fine but notice the back on the smaller one, it needs help.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gorgeous,

I'm loving the return of energy on the blog! Please keep it coming, even if we don't always comment, we're always reading and LEARNING!

Shawn from Sunny South Africa

Anonymous said...


I do the same thing setting up many hens at one time the only thing I do not do is handfeed I believe in survival of the fittess. If the hen does not feed the second time she goes...Ed

Evon in WI said...

Thank You, Linda for the brief refresher course.
Every new Mom needs a helping hand sometimes. My experience has been the new Mom's sometimes need some help with fostering or hand feedings.
I have found dad's do a good job of feeding so I try to keep my pairs together. However, there are times the hen doesn't want Dad around.
I think of the young hens as teenage moms finding themselves with a baby asking "Now what do I do?" Grandma to the rescue.
Expecting babies this week.