Tips to ensure good survival when you receive your chicks
In the beginning of the year, the phone rings every day with questions from two or three new customers who want information that will help them in preparing for the arrival of their day-old pheasant chicks. Their excitement and curiosity are enjoyed by those of us who return their calls. Excitement, however, can be short lived if the main needs of a hatchling are not being met in the correct manner. In the next couple of paragraphs I will touch upon the importance of temperature, food and water placement, lighting and air flow.
The first step in receiving young birds is to be prepared at least two days before arrival. When you are prepared early, you have the chance to experiment with the combination of heat and air flow (which will be talked about later), and you will also make fewer mistakes than when you rush to set up.
Upon arrival, the room where the chicks are to be placed should be approximately 100°F directly under the brooder. The temperature at the edge of the “ring” which is created by your heat source should be about 93 F. Around the edge of the room the temperature should be 88-90°F. This temperature should be held for at least the first five days. If the temperature goes much higher, the birds may tend to refrain from eating and drinking. Overheating a chick within the first week can often cause disease problems later. Chicks that do not eat properly are not as strong as they should be and this leaves the door open for sickness. It is very important that the heat is monitored closely for these first few days because they are the most critical for the birds’ survival.
Water and feed should be placed in close proximity to the heat source. (Be aware that if the water becomes too warm the birds will not drink.) If you do not receive a large number of chicks, you might want to try dipping their beaks in water. Also, you might want to lay out pieces of cardboard and place feed on them for the first few days. This will aid the birds in finding the water and feed. Once again the first few days are the most critical. If the birds are not able to find feed and water they will either starve out or their growth will be stunted from malnutrition.
Everyone knows that heat, food and water are essential for a chick’s survival; however, lighting is just as important. Proper lighting can decrease starve-out ratios by increasing the activity of the birds. It also provides the birds with the space that they need. When lighting your barns, try not to think of the spotlight method that you see at a theater, instead think of an evenly lit gymnasium where every inch can be used for its designated purpose. Your birds need to see the feed, water and heat, but they also need the ability to retreat from the heat if they become too warm. Proper lighting allows young chicks to still find food and water even if they move away from the heat. Do not forget to reduce the level of lighting after the first seven days. Pheasants then tend to become very aggressive and cannibalistic.
Air flow is the last of the major components needed in starting your birds right and maintaining their health throughout their stay in your barns. Air flow is important at any stage of a bird’s life: indoors or out. The importance increases with the number of birds and the amount of space that they have. It is important for two reasons. It brings in fresh air and takes out dusty stagnant air. It also cools the birds by allowing their bodies to breathe. Just think about a hot day without a breeze - then a hot day with a breeze. Then you will understand what proper air flow does for the well-being of the birds.
These 3 or 5 areas of concentration: heating, food and water placement, lighting and air flow, are not the only issues that might come your way. They will, however, give you a solid base to work with in raising strong healthy chicks.
Download a free copy of our Rearing Guide for more infromation on prepping for your birds.