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Checklist: How to care for newly hatched chicks

1. Wait until newly hatched chicks are 100% dry. Keep them in the hatcher until they’re dry. If you have other eggs hatching, be cognizant of changing the humidity level when opening the hatcher to remove the now-dry chick.

2. Have your chick brooding area already set-up. This includes:

>Bedding; we prefer sphagnum moss for the first few days, transitioning to fine flake pine shavings later.

>Feeder with feed; we prefer chick mash for the first few days, particularly with bantams like silkies, transitioning to crumble as they grow.

>Waterer with water; with newly hatched chicks we always use a quail waterer or we add pebbles to the water to prevent them from drowning or fully drenching their bodies and getting chilled.

>Heat source; this could be a heat plate or heat lamp. Make sure there are non-heated spaces for the chicks. If using a heat lamp it should be at a distance to warm the chicks without roasting them, or too far away that it doesn’t provide sufficient heat.

3. Dip each and every chick’s beak in the water source when removing them from the hatcher to the brooder pen

4. If it’s a large brooder pen, place the chick near the heat source after the beak dip into water

5. Check on your chicks; don’t go to bed that night until checking that all newly hatched chicks figured out the heat source, stragglers may not survive the night so get them moved as needed

Before the egg is ever laid:

If maintaining your own breeding stock, especially with silkies, give them the highest possible nutrient rich diet you’re able to, which can pass on to the embryo forming chick. Silkies are tough ones to thrive after hatching, so they’re a good example of where proactive nutrition can make a difference.

Chicks will be worn out after hatching -it’s a lot of work. It's hard to resist, but don't handle and play with them or allow your kids to do so right away or you may lose them. Wait a day or two and keep them warm, draft free and stress free.

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