Understanding the quality of the chicks you are getting can help in preparing the farm to address the flock needs and get them off to a good start. Assessing chicks immediately upon arrival and systematically throughout the first few hours and days is essential to be able to estimate what you can get out of the flock and what extra actions can and need to be taken.
Four practices to add to your routine:
- Pick up and assess chicks from different trays for a well-rounded check
- Weigh 5% of the chick trays for a good idea of the starting weight for the entire flock
- Pay attention to uniformity
- Count chicks in few trays. Hatcheries are diligent and well trained when it comes to loading the right number of chicks per a tray. However, sometimes numbers can be off causing distortion in water and feed consumption data.
Nine things to look out for:
- Reflex: When a chick is laid on its back, it should be able to stand up within 3 seconds
- Eyes: clean, open and shiny
- Navel: closed and clean. Remnants of yolk or open navel suggest compromised chicks
- Feet: Place their feet against skin, they should feel warmer than your skin and should be normal colour and not swollen
- Beak: clean with closed nostrils. Red spots on the beak or malformations suggest compromised chicks
- Yolk sac: stomach should be soft and malleable
- Down: should be dry and shiny. Wet and tacky down suggest compromised chicks and close attention should be paid to the barn environment
- Uniformity: More than 20 percent chicks outside of the ‘normal’ size range causes for concern
- Vent temperature: should be 40C few hours post arrival.
This information was retrieved from an article published in Poultry World on October 7, 2020. Full article can be found here.