We start our chicks, from our own incubator/hatcher or mail-ordered from Cackle Hatchery (yes, that’s the real name). Our chicks hatch out over two days and then moved to the brooder. Mail order chicks are a different story: Post Office employees are quick to call you once the chicks arrive on their dock because the noise echoes through the building and that would be magnified if a postal carrier drove his/her route with that peeping. So, at 6:00 a.m., we are back on the farm with our new additions. These chicks have had no water or food for two days, receiving nourishment only from their egg sack. To introduce them to their new home, we dip their beaks in warm water to jump-start their digestive system and warm them up. We have added a teaspoon of black molasses and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to build up their immune systems, naturally and organically. The chicks are first run on paper with finely-milled organic feed scattered so they can start their feeding with natural foraging instincts.
Keeping the chicks warm is a must, 95° for the first week, and then slowing turning the heat down about 5° weekly until they have feathers and are acclimated to the season. They have access to their feed and water and to grit for their gullets. We like to throw in a little grass daily for the birds to get use to foraging for when we move them outside.