It’s chick season around here and that means that people will flock (pun intended) to the local feed stores in order to bring home their newest backyard poultry members.
In a recent chicken workshop, I warned my students that chicks are not like puppies, you don’t want the calm one who is taking a nap when you inspect the litter. Quite the opposite, when you pick out chicks, you want the ones who are most lively and active. Those are the ones who will have the greatest chance of survival. Things to consider when choosing chicks:
Beak– don’t bring home a chick that has a broken or deformed beak. That could translate to eating problems as the chick matures. Depending on the age of the chick, though, she might still have her egg tooth and that’s fine. The egg too tooth is something that will fall off in a matter of days.Eyes – Choose chicks that have bright and shiny eyes. Make sure there is no drainage or deformity (half-closed, etc.)
Chances are, if you are buying your chicks from a feed store, they will have already been inspected and any chicks that have problems will have already been removed. Because the chicks are also constantly monitored, sick ones are also isolated very quickly. Still, it’s best to know what to look for in a young chick to make sure you bring home hardy stock, especially if you are only buying a few to add to your backyard flock.
I write about lessons learned living with children and chickens in New Hampshire. You can follow our family's stories at my blog: Lessons Learned From the Flock.
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