top of page

Helpful Things You Need to Know

➳ Standard care for chicks

When bringing home your new Featherbabies, you need to provide them a heat source, fresh water, and crumble food.  Many people use large rubbermaid tubs with pine shavings as bedding.  I recommend putting the heat lamp at one side of the brooder and the food and water on the other end.  This way, the chicks can move in and out of the heat as needed and their water does not get too warm. The chicks' behavior will give you clues as to the proper temperature.  If they are panting and spread out, it is too hot.  If they are huddled together, it may be too cold.  One side of the brooder should be 95 degrees and the babies must be able to escape that heat in order to regulate their body temperature.  In general, a quiet baby is a happy baby.  Look and listen for behavioral cues to help you determine what your chicks need.  I do not recommend putting different ages together in a small brooder space.  There's a free video on how to setup a chick brooder on the Video's page. 

➳ Using a heat plate

Heat plates are great IF they are used properly.  Heat plates must be set up properly to keep baby chicks warm enough.  Babies need access to 95 degrees and need to be able to move away from the heat to adjust their temp as needed.  PLEASE make sure THE SHAVINGS under the plate are 95 degrees or close.  Just because the heat plate is hot doesn't mean the shavings are.  Babies lay flat to sleep and can't stand up to touch the plate 24/7.  If babies are laying in the cold shavings all night they will NOT be OK.  You can angle the plate, lower the plate, and block off 2-3 of the sides to help hold in the heat.  DO NOT BLOCK OFF ALL 4 SIDES OF THE PLATE - they need at least one side to escape the heat and access food and water.  

Again the shavings need to be warm, not just the plate.

➳ Tips on dealing with pasty-butt

PB is common in chicks.  It is not an illness and is not contagious.  It is usually caused by stress or improper brooder temperatures.  PB is when feces sticks a chick's vent and dries.  It essentially seals them shut so they cannot void.  When they cannot void, toxins build up in their systems quickly and can result in death.  You need to check chick bottoms often and keep them clean.  If you have PB, you need to hold just the chicks bottom under warm running water and gently remove any build-up, being careful not to get the chick too wet.  Be sure to dry the chick with absorbant toilet paper or a towel and get them warm after the bath.  If you have a chick with repeated episodes, you can use a tiny bit of vaseline on their vent to prevent anything from sticking.  Be sure to recheck your brooder temperature to make sure it isn't too hot or too cold.  You can offer scrambled eggs and a tiny bit of sand and/or dirt to help get digestion on track.  Probiotics are also a good idea. 

➳ Coccidiosis in chicks

Keeping a clean brooder and water source is your first line of defense.  However, this is a common illness in chicks and can be recognized by lethargy, lack of eating and drinking, sleeping more often than normal, or blood in the feces.  Prompt treatment is essential, as this is contagious and progresses quickly.  I recommend Corrid, available at any feed store.  

Liquid dose:

2 teaspoons per gallon for five days, then 1/2 teaspoon for 7-14 days

Powder dose:

1.5 teaspoons per gallon for five days, then 1/3 teaspoon for 7-14 days.  

Do not offer probiotics during treatment, as they contradict the medication, but definitely follow with a week of probiotics/vitamins.  

➳ For mite and lice prevention and treatment, I recommend Elector PSP

The use of Elector does not require egg withdrawal and can be used as a preventative, as well as a treatment. You can buy Elector PSP online.  It is not cheap, but will last a long time.   You dilute 9mL per gallon and can spray the coop as well as the birds.  Cleaning the coop and nest boxes often is a good practice, as well as providing a place to dust bathe.

➳ As a breed, Silkies tend to be prone to vitamin deficiency

Vitamin deficiency causes wry neck. Some of the signs are: stargazing, walking backwards, low-hanging head, and loss of balance. I suggest a preventative approach, as dealing with this condition can be hard on the heart. 

Silkies are prone to deficiencies in vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2, B6, E, and D.  Selenium is necessary for the absorption of vitamin E, and thiamine is necessary for the absorption of all other vitamins, so supplements for silkies should contain all of these.  Red Cell and Poultry Cell are the best supplements for silkies and providing 2-3 times a week in their water is is sufficient.  

Red Cell- 1 tablespoon per gallon of water

Poultry Cell- 2 tablespoons per gallon of water

bottom of page