Getting Ready For The Black Java Chicks
It’s time for me to get ready for the Black Java chicks I have on order. They will be arriving the last week of March or the first week of April. I am so excited. I haven’t had chicks in many years, so I may have forgotten something. If I did please leave a note and remind me. 🙂
Because they will only be a day old I can’t put them outside and wouldn’t want to, they need to be watched, that they are warm enough, haven’t spilled over their water, and to get them used to everyone looking at them and touching them. Chicks are easy to care for if their needs are met. More on that in a second.
Most chicks if ordered from mail order must be ordered in at least a group of 25. The chicks are shipped either the day they hatched or just as they are hatching and need each other to keep warm. They will be cold and thirsty when they arrive.
Be ready for them before they arrive. Set the light up and turn it on the night before to heat up their area. It’s ok that they don’t eat much the first day they have extra energy from their egg sack. But show them their food after they have learned to drink.
They need to drink as soon as you get them home. Nice warm water with a bit of sugar added.
Your post office may not be used to live chicks arriving in their post office and not know to call you right away and let them sit there. Around here it’s old hat and they know, actually they will call first thing in the morning, and even water them if you give them the ok to. (My neighbor told me this last year) Give your post office a call a few days before you expect the chicks to come in and ask them to call you in the morning, explain to them the chicks need immediate attention or they will die.
Here I use a wire dog crate. It’s rather large so I use cardboard to divide it in half the first few weeks as the chicks are so small. This makes the area smaller for them. As they grow I move the cardboard further back to give them more room and eventually remove it. The first few (5?) days the chicks can’t stand very well and need a surface to grip their feet on. I use paper towels or old cotton bath towels. I like the towels as I can wash them and reuse them, not to mention I don’t usually have paper towels handy. This helps the chicks learn to walk and helps in preventing splayed legs, slipped tendons and other leg problems. Don’t use shavings or bits of paper, the chicks will eat it and it will kill them.
After a few days and they learn to walk (and what is and isn’t food) I use several layers of newspaper with a layer of shredded newspaper for them to rest on and pick through (I add the shredded newspaper when they are about 10 weeks old until then only flat sheets of paper.). This bedding will need to be changed every day and some times several times a day if they spill their water.
They need to be clean and dry.
Speaking of clean and dry, check their hind ends several times daily to be sure they are not dirty with poop build up-they call it pasty butt, if so use a clean warm wet rag to clean them up. Some will tell you to simply pull it off down and all so it won’t build up again. I don’t do this it’s a bit hard on the chicks, sort of like having your hair ripped out because you have something stuck in it.
They will need some sort of heat lamp to keep the temperature at 95f the first week and 5 degrees cooler each week after that until the temperature is down to room temperature and the chicks have good feathers grown in. Some will tell you to use an infrared, red colored bulb. Me, I’m old school and have always used a regular 100W bulb in one of those silver fixtures with the shade and clamp on the other end. The bulb will need to be raised as the chicks grow. I put a thermometer in their cage a few nches off the floor and check it often. Be careful the chicks can’t reach the bulb and get burnt or knock it down and start a fire in their bedding.
The chicks are great at telling you what they want, if they re unhappy they will chirp very loudly. When cold they will all huddle together, hot and they will hide in the corners away from the bulb. Just right and they will walk around, chirp and peck away happily. So keep an eye on them.
Another thing to watch for is curled toes
You should watch the toes of new chicks that they are straight when they step on them. If not you can make a sort of splint from a wide band aid and first aid tape. BUT this must be done the first few days before the bones harden. This is caused by some sort of incubation/hatching problem.
To do this take a fairly wide band aid and fold the adhesive end into the padded area, to make a padded patch for the foot to rest on. Gently lay their toes on top of the band aid straight and tape down with some first aid tape. I trim the splint with scissors to just a bit larger than the chicks foot print. Don’t press their toe down so hard that the nail is turned toward the side. You want the toe straight and the nail in an upright position. Don’t use bright colored tape, they will peck at it. I would leave it on a day then remove it and check how the chick is walking. I have only ever had to do this one and it worked quite well.
This is an area of debate among those who raise chicks. Some old timers will tell you to feed them hard boiled, mashed eggs and some will tell you this encourages egg eating (eating their own eggs) later in life. Some will tell you to feed only chick starter. Me I use both, mashed eggs and starter.
You will need to teach them how to eat and drink and where their food and water are. This is simple just gently dip their beaks in the water and food and see if they catch on, if not do it again in a few minutes until they do. But they are pretty smart and it usually only takes one time.
For a feeder I simply use a shallow heavy pie plate. As they get older I will place a rock in the middle to keep them from sitting in the feed and getting it dirty or tipping it over. A pointy rock works best they won’t perch on it.
Feed comes in mash, crumbles and pellets. Mash is powdery, pellets are made of compressed mash, and crumbles of broken up pellets. I think mash wasteful and don’t use it. I use crumbles for my chicks and pellets for the older birds. Then when they kick it out of the feeders they can still pick it up to eat it.
Some feeds are medicated. Coccidiosis is a disease that can kill chicks that have not built up a resistance to it. They can catch it outside from the droppings of other birds. If your chicks go outside you may want to give them a feed medicated with Amprolium, which controls the coccidiosis and allows the birds to build up a resistance. Some medicated chick feeds are sold with antibiotics in them. To me this is a waste money.
EDIT- Karyn had a bad spell and messed this up….
What I typed is not what I was trying to say, and I should have double checked my bags of grain for the protein content and not rely on my memory.
Bet you all were wondering why I would feed my family organic food, and raise my own chickens to gain control over what was in our eggs/meat and then feed the chickens crap food….Boy oh’boy that was a bad one…thanks Kristin for getting me to think about this and re-read what I was saying. 🙂
I have never nor will ever knowingly feed my family/animals medicated or altered food.
This is the feed I use from Poulin Grain:
I personally use medicated non-medicated, Organic 21% protein chick starter, and mashed hard boiled egg the first 8 6 weeks, broiler birds need their own type of feed. Then switch them to non-medicated 18% protein chick starter Organic 17% Growing Pellets for another 8 10 weeks. At 16 weeks I feed Organic 16% protein complete layer Layer Pellets and introduce bits of fresh produce, scratch and other foods.
Most importing that it is kept clean and changed every day. They sell chick waterers but I use a shallow cup saucer with a tin can. Take the can and punch 3-4 holes about 1/2″ from the top edge with a hammer and nail. Fill the can with clean room temperature water, place the saucer on top and quickly turn the can and saucer so the water won’t flood out. I sometimes add marbles to the saucer so the chicks won’t walk around in it and the sparkle encourages them to drink.
The first day as a boost I will add 1 tbl. sugar per quart of water to give them extra energy.
As they get older I replace the soup can with a coffee can, add more saucers and finally replace with an adult size water.
As they get larger you can move them into an outdoor pen on nice days but be sure nothing can get to them and bring them in at night.
I simply place a few small diameter sticks between the wire for them to perch on under the heat lamp and a couple on the edges away from the lamp. Chicks like to roost off the ground at night. I check them at night, if they aren’t on a perch I’ll put them up there and eventually they all will roost at night.
To start them off I will place the sticks on the floor of their cage so they can jump on and off them, them move them up the wire a bit as the grow taller.
I also add a couple blocks of untreated wood (a 2×4 about 8″ long), a few rocks and sticks for them to explore it keeps them busy and not pecking each other.
Grit is small stones that the chicks eat and store in their gizzard, they work like their teeth to grind their food. Chicks on mash or crumbles food don’t need it. Never give your chicks oyster shell, this is not grit it’s for laying hens and will harm your chicks.
Finally be sure they are always safe from your pets and spend time holding them and talking to them. They will get to know you and come running when they hear you. This is a plus later when you want to catch them outside as adults.
It will be so nice to have chicks again, I am looking forward to raising and living with the Black Javas.