Commercially raising chicks is a tough and tiresome job. Since chicks are often quite delicate and sensitive, there are a lot to do to ensure livability. No matter how you put it, you will always have a number of chicks die on you but you can reduce this immensely by employing proper care and housing them properly. Here are some things that you should go through in raising your chicks, whether you want them to lay eggs or mature to be slaughtered into meat later on.
- Know how they mature. From hatching, chicks can grow to their full size in a span of about 1 to 2 months. Yes, they do grow quickly. However, for the first two weeks, you can house them in small confined spaces like a cardboard box. You can fashion the box yourself or you can purchase a nice brooder box from your local poultry supply store. After a week or two, you will definitely need to transfer the chicks to a bigger place that is confined as well. If you have a brooder house, then you can set it up there. Use metal fencing to cordon off an area and lace the flooring with rice hulls. The rice hulls will absorb the harmful chemicals that will emanate from the decaying urine and feces they will produce daily.
- Light and feeds. As baby chicks, you will need to care for them properly. Chicks are sensitive to weather. If it is too cold, you will need to have a light shining on them to help them keep warm. If you do not do this, the chicks may soon catch a cold and die. Use an incandescent bulb and place retractable lamps in the center of the space. Bring it closer to the floor or retract to a higher position depending on how you observe the chicks. If the chicks cuddle up to the light, then that means it is needed. If they stay away from the light, then it means it has become too hot and you should retract it a bit.
- With regard to feeds and water, you can use a small metal platter for the feeds. Make sure they have a constant supply so that they will grow up fast and healthy. Start with chick booster feeds then after about 2 weeks, you can upgrade them to starter feeds. With regards to water, make sure that you have ample waterers for them to feed on. Waterers will provide a constant supply of water. Make sure to mix in certain vitamins that you can find at the poultry store.
- Sexing. You can bunch all the chicks up in the confined space for about 4 to 5 weeks, enough so that the gender of the chicks will show. At that point, you will want to separate the females from the males. The females will be used for egg laying while the males will be used for meat. To ensure that you get the sexing right, it may be worthwhile to hire an experienced sexer.
Whatever is the case, make sure that you keep your brooder house or area clean and meat. Check with your state and with the US Department of Agriculture for more information on how to take care, house, and grow chicks.