Thank you for exploring the Farwest Hatchery website,

While not a large hatchery we are a quality hatchery delivering a few choice quality breeds. All of us involved in the hatchery from feeding and watering to boxing and shipping take pride in delivering a quality product - your poultry.

How you continue to grow your baby chicks is extremely important and will lay the foundation for your flock’s overall health. If you take the time to feed and care for them, following our general guidelines, your chicks should grow and mature successfully.

For many of you this may be your first time raising baby chicks and we urge you to read through our recommendations. We want to emphasize that the early care your chicks receive in thier first few weeks is not only critical for their survival it is key to their development and future production. If you still have questions after reading through our guide, don’t hesitate to give us a call or drop us an email. We're in this process together.

Your Friends at Farwest Hatchery
On this Page. . .

Safe Handling Practices

Safe handling and cleanliness should be a priority and a common thread through
all your practices. Micro-organisms, particularly salmonella, are ever present in
both oral and fecal matter of animals. Care must be taken to prevent the transmission to people. Always, wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling
pets or livestock.

General Chick Care
You will want to be prepared well ahead of the arrival of your chicks. We've put this page together to help you do just that, prepare. Shipping is very stressful on new chicks and when they arrive you'll want to get them into their new environment as soon as possible - immediately! Having your brooding space prepared will be easier on both you and your chicks.

Delivery and Pickup
If you're not picking up your chicks directly from our hatchery or your local feed store your chicks will be arriving via USPS to your local post office. Your postmaster will call you when they arrive. We urge you to pick them up directly from your post office as early as possible. It is also recommended that you let your postmaster know, in advance, that you are expecting live chicks and the approximate date of arrival. They do appreciate the heads up to be on watch and listening for them.

A sufficiently sized cardboard box works well for a brooder and provides an effective draft shield. Cool drafts are bad for chicks, causing chills, huddling which leads to suffocation, and possible respiratory problems. However, keep in mind, chicks do need plenty of fresh air - just not cool drafty air. Remember too you will need a heat source for your brooder. See note under Sanitation.

Some form of bedding or litter should be put down to cover the entire brooding area to a depth of 1-2 inches. Some good material to use would be wood chips or peat moss. Never use cedar shavings which can be toxic to chicks or sawdust which can cause impaction when eaten. Use of either of these materials can result in death. Remember, little chicks will pick at everything!

Many folks are inclined to use paper material - we DO NOT recommend its use. Any slick surface material could cause the chicks to slip resulting in spraddle legs - legs sprawling out from under the chick. This resulting joint injury from spraddle legs if not immediately corrected is irreversible.

A heat source, preferably heat lamps or light bulbs, capable of maintaining 90-95°
in the brooding area is essential. We suggest you turn these on and test them in advance, taking your current weather conditions into consideration. Check the temperature using a thermometer at the chick level, 2-3 inches above the floor.

There are 250 watt heat lamps designed, and recommended for this purpose; be very careful using these products as they can get very hot. The brooder also must be of sufficient size to allow chicks to move away from the heat source.

As the chicks grow, decrease the brooder temperature by 5° each week until you reach 70° or the chicks are totally feathered. Once feathered the chicks shouldn't need a heat source.

A single 250 watt heat lamp is generally sufficient for approximately 100 chicks.
You can raise and lower the lamp to adjust the chick level temperature.

Water at brooder area temperature (90-95°) should be available immediately to the new chicks. There are many different styles of poultry waterers from which to choose. Start with a 1 gallon waterer per 100 chicks. Cooler water is not recommended as the chicks are already stressed from transport and are thirsty; drinking cool water can cool their bodies creating chills, even to the point of shock. After the first 24 hours you can provide tap temperature water.

Remember too, water should be given to the chicks for an hour before introducing food. This gives them a chance to hydrate before consuming dry food. Should your chicks, or other fowl, be slow to find their waterers adding brightly colored marbles will attract them to investigate and drink.

An 18% protein chick starter crumbles from your local feed store should be given after the chicks have had their first hour of access to water. We recommend spreading the food on a paper towel on the floor of the brooder for the first 24 hours. This stimulates the chicks to eat. Introduce them to the feeder later. When feeding, allow for sufficient space that all can feed without crowding. Crowding at the feed or water area creates stress which may lead to pecking at each other. The chicks should have food and water available to them at all times.

If your chicks are overly stressed upon arrival, you may add one-fourth cup of sugar to each gallon of water for the initial watering before giving food. Use fresh water after this initial dosage. If you want to provide additional vitamins and/or electrolytes do so after allowing a couple days of fresh water. Whatever vitamins or stress pack you choose, always follow the manufacturer's directions for use.

Watch for a condition referred to as "pasty butt" or "pasting up". Stressed chicks may have diarrhea or very sticky (pasty) stools which will stick to the chicks. The result is a blocked rectum. Remove this manure daily by pulling it off gently or better yet is to wash it off with warm water and a cloth. This condition should clear as the chicks grow and begin to eat the chick starter. If the chicks also appear droopy you may use a sulfa (anti-microbial) type drug following the manufacturer's directions.

Before your chicks arrive make sure your brooder and surrounding brooding area have been cleaned and preferably disinfected. This area should also be free of other poultry.

The chicks will get food into the waterers which will sour very quickly under the warm brooder conditions.. Algae may also become a problem. In either case the waterers become prime breeding ground for bacteria and in turn can cause chick sickness. The feeders and litter will also need to be cleaned and replaced as needed to maintain a sanitary environment for healthy chicks.

Domestic Pets and Predators

Don't overlook your loveable family dogs and cats. Just as you will want to protect the chicks from wild predators don't forget about your domestic pets. Easily accessible chicks have a way of bringing out the hunting instinct in animals.
Chicks (Non Fryers/Broilers
With an exception for broilers and fryers, consider starting your baby chicks on a high protein (20%) medicated chick starter and continuing through 8 weeks of age.

Additionally, for your layers, rare and unusual chicks, and bantams we recommend the use of commercial grower and layer rations. These are available through your local feed store.

    <chick schedule>

You will need to allow for adequate space for your chicks to eat and drink. In general 2.5 inches of feeder space and 1inch of watering space per chick will be sufficient for the first 12 weeks. Expand the space as the birds grow. Housing for your layers should allow a minimum of space as indicated.

    <housing schedule>

Chicks - Fryers and Broilers
Due to their rapid growth and weight gain these breeds have special nutritional needs and will require extra care. This care will minimize sudden death syndrome and heart attack. The feeding restriction we recommend reduces chicken loss by slowing body growth while allowing the skeletal structure time to catch up.

    <Broiler Schedule>

Turkeys and Peafow
Turkeys and peafowl tend to be more difficult to get started. We recommend that medicated turkey rations be used. If you are unable to find turkey feed blends you may use chick rations.

    <Turkey Schedule>

Turkeys tend to have a difficult time finding their food and water. Consider placing a few chicks with them. These chicks will help teach the newly arrived turkeys by leading them to the food and water. Remove the chicks after a few days. Turkeys and chickens should not be raised together. Turkeys can pick up "black head" from the droppings of older chickens - there is no cure and death is most certain.

For each poult allow 3 inches of feeder space and 2 inches of watering space and expand as they grow.

Ducks and Goslings
Ducklings and Goslings will require more care than chicks, they are simply messier. Their messier behavior is also why you should not raise them with other fowl. The others can get sick and die. However, due to the ducklings and goslings rapid growth, they will not require heat as long and will be able to be turned out sooner than chicks.

Contrary to common belief, do not let ducklings and goslings out on a pond or other body of water - they will drown. Wait until they are feathered out.

You will need heavier and sturdier waterers to keep them from being spilled onto the litter. Never let water fowl run out of water they run a choking risk when eating as they wash their food down with water. Also, never medicate the water for ducklings and goslings.

Both ducklings and goslings should be watered (NO sugar or medication) immediately on arrival. However, you should restrict their intake for the first couple of hours. Let them have a few drinks then take the water up for 30 minutes and repeat. Too much water too early can lead to shock and death.

The feeder and waterer space requirements for ducklings and goslings is also larger. We recommend feeders of at least 2" (per bird) to begin, incrementing to 4" per bird by the age of 6 weeks. Waterers of 2-3 inches are good from the start, but allow extra space for hot weather or warm climates.

    <Duck schedule>

Pheasants, Guineas, Chuckar and Quail
These types of poultry can be started much as we outline for baby chicks. However, extra care is required to keep these guys out of their waterers to prevent chills and drowning. Special waterers can be purchased, but simply filling the base of a chick waterer with gravel, or marbles, will work nicely.
General Feeding Recommendations
Chick Care

PO Box 856, Aurora OR 97002     email:       Phone: 503-266-2566       Fax: 877-678-1649