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General Care Information for Young Birds

Care of young Chickens, Peafowl and Pheasants

Care of young Chickens, Peafowl and Pheasants

Chicks should be housed in some type of brooder, this can be anything from a large battery brooder to just a plastic storage tote or other such container. The brooder should provide the following:

  • A reliable heat source

  • Protection from moisture

  • Protection from predators

  • Protection from drafts

  • Good ventilation

  • Adequate space

Day old chicks should be kept at a temperature of 95 degrees. The temperature should be reduced approximately 5 degrees each week.

Chicks that are not kept warm enough due to an insufficient heat source or drafts will crowd near the heat source. This crowding often leads to chicks smothering as they pile on top of each other to get warm.

Chicks that are kept too warm will gather around the edges of the brooder, where piling and smothering can also occur. Chicks that are too warm also may not eat as well and will often grow more slowly than those kept at a proper temperature.

Fresh drinking water should always be available to the chicks. Water should be provided in waterers that are made for young poultry and have a small lip or space for the chicks to drink from. Waterers designed for larger birds or for waterfowl may allow the chic to become wet and chilled in which case they will die if the problem is not dealt with very quickly. Pictured to the right is a waterer suitable for small chicks.

Chickens are fed a chick starter/grower crumble that is 16% protein.

Pheasants and Peafowl will do better if given a turkey or game bird starter, this will have more protein.

Pheasant chicks are more prone to feather picking than chickens or peafowl. Special care should be taken not to over crowd pheasants.

In most cases chicks should be fully feathered before being put outside on the ground. When putting out young birds special attention should be paid to the weather. In early spring ,late fall or in winter young birds may still need some protection from the elements. Half grown birds can still become chilled when wet if outside temperatures are low and they have no additional heat source and they can die very quickly. Some protection from rain is recommended until birds reach adult size. In cold weather an additional heat source is recommended until birds reach adult size.

For information on care of adult birds please visit the page concerning the species that you are interested in.

Care of young ducklings, swans and geese

All brooder requirements are same as above. Temperature requirements also same as above with the exception that swans and geese generally can do well with less heat than ducks.

Waterfowl have a higher tolerance to less than perfect temperatures and smothering is not as common.

Fresh water should be available at all times. We use waterers with a larger lip than what is used for poultry. Ducklings are also susceptible to becoming chilled when wet. This drop in body temperature can kill them quickly. Marbles placed in the waterers can help keep the ducklings from becoming wet. Pictured to the left is a suitable waterer for small ducklings.

We start all our waterfowl out on Mazuri Waterfowl starter, this is 20% protein. For species that learn to eat readily ( all domestic ducks and some of our ornamentals) we use a poultry feeder with a lip large enough for the ducklings to feed. Some more delicate ducklings such as wood ducks and some of our diving ducks need help learning to eat. For more information on ducklings that need help learning to eat please visit out "wood duck" page

Waterfowl can be introduced (with caution) to swimming water at any age.

Special care should be taken when introducing any young waterfowl to swimming water for the first time. In most cases the birds will not be properly oiled which means their feathers do not yet adequately shed water. Once introduced to the water most birds will immediately begin to preen and oil their feathers and will become fully waterproofed in a short amount of time. However if birds are released into a stressful situation where perhaps they are chased or driven into the water either by people or other birds, the new birds may spend more time evading their aggressors than tending to their feathers. This can lead to the birds feathers becoming water logged and ultimately to the drowning of the bird. If a water soaked bird does make it out of the water it may still die due to chilling especially in cool weather. (This information is also relevant to adult birds that have been denied swimming water for an extended period of time which will cause them to lose thier waterproofing) Young ducklings in down will waterlog much more quickly than those with some feathers, they may have to be removed from the water if they do not do so voluntarily. It may take several introductions before they are fully waterproofed. 

Once waterfowl have been introduced successfully to swimming water and are water proofed they are much more weather resistant than chickens pheasants and peafowl. Ducklings that are at least feathered in the breast and belly will normally do well with only minimal protection from the elements. The exception would be in very cold weather or in heavy rain. Ducklings that still have down on the breast and belly should still be protected from cold and rain until their feathers come in.

For more information on the care of young ducklings see our article on the "About Us" page of our web site

For more information on care of adult birds or on aviary construction please visit our "about us" page

For more detailed info on the requirements for certain species please visit the page for the species in which you are interested.




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