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Want to Keep and Raise the Chicks?

General Considerations

The chicks and ducklings need to be with other chicks and/or ducklings, you will need to take at least two.

• The chicks and ducklings still require heat to stay warm till they are about 5 to 6 weeks old depending on the time of year.

• The chicks and ducklings need to be kept safe from cats, dogs, and foxes.

• At this age you cannot accurately determine the sex of the chicks, so you have no way of knowing if you will end up with roosters. Roosters are generally not allowed to be kept in suburban areas, they will start crowing around 16 weeks old usually at 4 or 5 am in the morning. They can also become very aggressive, especially towards children. We strongly suggest that you do not take home these chicks unless you are prepared to get rid of the roosters before they reach this stage. We will collect young roosters for a fee, please read Rooster Pick up Service information below.

• The hens, once around 22 weeks of age will lay about an egg a day. The chickens are crossbred egg laying strains including, Isa Browns, Rhode Island Reds, Australorps and White Leghorns.

• The ducks are Khaki Campbells (Brown) Pekin (White) or a cross of both (Brown and White). You can tell the sex of the ducks at around 16 weeks of age when the males will develop a darker head and a curled tail feather. Male Ducks don’t come with the same problem as roosters so it isn’t an issue keeping them.

Rooster Pick up Service

We offer a rooster collection service that will cost $50 for Sydney/Illawarra area and $30 for Canberra area. Once your chicks are about 5 weeks old you will be able to determine if you have any roosters by the following- the males develop a larger and redder comb (on top of head) and wattle (underneath the beak) you can google images if unsure.

To arrange rooster collection email admin@hatchingchicks.com.au with your home address and phone number when the chicks are 5 to 6 WEEKS OLD, this will give us time to organise the collection when we are in your area. We also have limited space so prefer to collect the roosters as young as possible. Please don’t wait till your roosters are fully grown and crowing as it may take us a few weeks to be able to collect.

You will need to have them in a cardboard box with plenty of air holes, especially in summer as they will overheat rapidly without good ventilation. We do not have time to catch roosters for you.

Caring for Your Chickens and Ducklings

I do not recommend raising ducklings and chicks together as the ducklings make the environment very wet which causes chicks to become ill with coccidiosis. Ducks and Chooks can live together happily outside as adults. If raising ducklings be prepared to clean out the litter and top up water twice a day. Ducklings can live outside without supplementary heat by 4 weeks of age however by this age they will be very big and very messy. This is not a task to take on unless you are very committed to cleaning out a very soggy wet messy brooding area at least twice a day.

Because the ratio of M/F is usually 50/50 we recommend you start with twice or more than the number of chicks you want to end up with. E.G. If you want 3 layers for your backyard we recommend you raise 6 to 8 chicks. We offer a rooster pick up service which is outlined on our website. Please do not take home one chick or one duckling. They will get distressed being on their own. We recommend at least 3. The easiest way to raise your chicks/ducklings is to purchase our starter kit from our website and we can deliver to the school/centre you are picking the chicks up from on the pickup day. We can usually supply you with extra chicks for $5 each on that day also if needed. All you need to do is go home with your chicks and set it up. We have combined our experience, with a lot of thought and consideration  to come up with a kit make it easy for you.

The chicks/ducklings can’t maintain their own body temperatures and require supplementary heat till between 3 to 6 weeks of age depending on seasonal temperatures and the type of housing. We supply a safe and easily adjustable heat source with our brooder kit. The heat lamp can be fixed securely at a height approx. 5 to 10 centimetres above the chicks/ducklings heads and raised higher as they grow taller. Their downy coat is gradually replaced by feathers, and the brooding temperature can be gradually reduced until supplementary heat is only used at night and then discontinued altogether. The best way to adjust the temperature for comfort of chicks/ducklings is to observe their behaviour. If they crowd near the heat source the temp is too low. If they move well away, they are too hot. The heat source can be adjusted by raising or lowering the heat lamp. Our brooder kits are also designed to provide ventilation and warmth needed in winter months. If using starter kits in unheated environments in winter you can add extra heat by covering the whole kit with a blanket at night. Our brooder kit can be used inside your home, garage, or under the cover of a veranda as long as you can plug in the heat lamp to a power supply and keep your chicks safe from dogs and cats.

Correct brooding temperatures

14-21 days - 25C

21-28 days - 22C

28-35 days - 18C

FOOD

Our starter kits include large water and food containers that are fully adjustable so you can raise the level as the chicks grow taller. This is essential to keep food and water clean as chicks spend most of their time scratching around in the litter and a lot of it can end up in the feed and water if these are not maintained at the right height. These containers are also large enough to be used when your chickens are living outside. Suitable medicated chick food and wood shavings are also supplied with our kits. To raise healthy chicks you will need to feed them the correct type of food at the correct ages. Chick starter crumbles till 6 weeks old, grower crumble from 6 to 16 weeks, layer pellets from 16 weeks on. These manufactured feeds give the birds a properly balanced diet and need to be available to them at all times. At about 6 weeks old green feed such as grass and kitchen scraps can be introduced, but should only form a small part of the diet. Do not give them rotten or mouldy foods. Each chick will consume approx.1.5 kg of chick starter crumble from 1 week to 6 weeks of age.  We sell 1.5 kilo bags of medicated chick starter crumble .You can calculate and order the right amount of food from us to raise your chicks to 6 weeks.

HEALTH

Growing chickens are susceptible to Coccidiosis which is caused by an intestinal parasite. It generally occurs because of damp ground or litter. Symptoms include huddling, reluctance to move about, ruffled feathers, and sometimes but not always, blood in droppings. It will quickly spread to other chickens. Litter must be kept clean and dry. The chick starter crumble we supply has medication for Coccidiosis added. We also supply wood shavings with our brooder kits as we have found this is the best way to keep chicks dry and clean.  Poultry are susceptible to intestinal worms and external parasites such as lice and mites. Medication for this can be purchased from stockfeed/ produce stores.

SUPPORT
As always, there is a plethora of information on the internet on how to raise chickens and we recommend you do your research and locate a good source to guide you through. We kindly request that you do not contact us on how to raise your chickens.