What Is Piling?

What Is Piling?

As we move through the process of raising baby chicks, we want to address some potential problems you may encounter. One of these is an issue known as piling.

 

Piling occurs when baby chicks clump together for safety. For example, if it’s cold or dark, then the chicks might lay on top of each other. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. It’s not much different than mammals gathering together in a close-knit group to stay calm and keep away the chill.

 

The Downside Of Piling

Unfortunately, when 10 to 15 chicks pile together, some may get crushed or suffocate. Particularly if they are in a brooder or another enclosed area (you can learn how many chicks should be in a brooder here). The reason for this? Even though baby chicks are incredibly independent, they are still fragile. Bantams in particular.

 

These chicks are so tiny that they get lost in the melee to gather together. If a bantam is weaker or not growing as well as the others, this also leads to a greater risk of being crushed. In addition, since bantams get colder faster, there’s a likelihood of them piling up more frequently.

 

How To Minimize Piling Risks

Regardless if they’re bantams or full-size, chicks have a harder time keeping warm. And if the smaller chicks are mixed with normal sized ones, there’s a potential for greater damage. In the end, the way to minimize piling risks is to separate the chicks by size and make sure there’s no more than 10-15 chicks in the brooder. 

 

Not too long ago, we received a batch of bantams and full-size chicks from a hatchery. The first thing we did is to separate them out, so the smaller chicks didn’t get crushed by a wall of bigger ones. Overall, we were able to maintain the safety of all of them.

 

Another way to minimize piling is to keep baby ducks and chicks in different brooders. Infant ducks tend to be bigger and heavier. Even though their interactions may be cute, a baby duck sitting on a day-old chick can cause fatal injuries.

 

A third way to prevent piling is to provide different heat sources, especially in enclosed spaces. With these units added throughout the brooder, the chicks can move to another source of warmth if the first one is too crowded. Be sure the brooder doesn’t get too hot, though!

Get Your Chicks To Thrive

As you would do with babies in your care, you want to ensure your chicks are well protected. This means shielding the smaller, fragile ones from being crushed when a group decides to pile together. By separating bigger chicks from smaller ones, as well as providing multiple heat sources, you can reduce this risk. In turn, you will end up with a healthy flock of chickens in a variety of sizes.

Best Chick Waterers To Prevent Drowning

Best Chick Waterers To Prevent Drowning

From the day your chicks hatch, they will need a good chicken waterer to help them have 24 hour access to water. 

 

You don’t want them getting dehydrated!

 

There’s lots of options, which are all equally good. Whichever you decide, you’ve got to pay attention to the amount of water and the size of the waters as your chicks grow older. 

 

I’ll introduce the best options out there(at least I think they’re the best options), but towards the end, I’ve even thrown in another option for your consideration.

 

 

In this article, we’ll answer the commonly-asked question: “What is the best waterer for my baby chicks?”

 

(For a full review of several waterers out there, you can read this article.)

 

Mason Jar Waterers

Mason jar waterers are good when you have itty bitty chicks that are day-olds. I like these because they’re shallow, and with anything deeper, your chicks might fall in the water. 

 

Earlier this year, we actually did have somebody fall in the water (even though we use mason jar waterers). It was quite the tempest in a teapot with that chick, and although it was unharmed, it was very upset. We actually had to blow it dry to make sure that it was warm enough.

 

The problem with the Mason jar waterers is that your chicks will outgrow them pretty quick. But they’re cheap and easy to find at your local farm store, and they’re what I recommend using the first couple weeks of your chick’s life.

 

Bell Waterers

You will see bell waterers for sale at farm stores. I call them bell waterers. I’m not sure what everyone else calls them, but that’s what I call them because they’re kind of shaped like a bell. 

 

You can use those with day-olds, but are really good all the way up to 16 weeks, which gives them a bit more of a lifespan.

 

The problem with bell waterers with the day-olds is how deep they are. They’re about an inch and a half deep. 

 

It’s important to remember that when your chicks just come out of the incubator, they can’t walk very well. So, they can fall into it. 

 

The other nice thing about these waterers is its handle. You can hang them, and your chicks won’t kick shavings in their water. (The only time they’re not going to get shavings in their waterers and feeders is if you use something like newspaper, which isn’t the best bedding out there.)  

 

You will want to use a bell waterer if you have a lot of chicks. If you have 30 chicks, for example, the little mason jar waterer probably isn’t going to cut it after a couple of days. 

 

It’s just going to be not enough water and not everybody can get to it. In that case, the bigger bell waterer is better. 

 

Kitchen Pan

Sometimes, I have more chicks than waterers, so I need to find a pinch hitter. I’ve found ceramic kitchen pans and baking dishes to be good options. They’re also free and you won’t need to buy extra equipment.

 

I prefer a ceramic baking dish that’s no more than 1 inch deep. That’s shallow enough that the chicks can’t fall into it, and they can easily access the water (this works great with ducklings, too). 

 

If they DO fall into it, they can easily get out. Additionally, they can’t tip it over, since the baking dishes are relatively heavy. 

 

If we want to use a water from the kitchen, just like a bowl, that’s what we use because it’s just simpler.

 

Keeping Chicks From Falling Into Waterers

Yes, chicks can drown, especially if they’re weaker or they’re getting trampled. But you can easily prevent your chicks from falling into their waterer by putting a bunch of rocks in there. 

 

Many farm stores use rocks they found outside, but I think it’s best to use smooth river stones that you can buy at the store. Your chicks can still get to the water, but they won’t try to climb in, and if they fall in, they won’t fall very far.

 

You can remove the stones after a few days. 

 

So how many stones? Well, it depends on how deep your waterer is. 

 

A single layer of stones is usually enough, especially with mason jar waterers. I’ve just found that with the mason jar waterers, you don’t really have to put in as many stones. 

 

Personally, with the mason jar waterers, I don’t use rocks, and I’ve never had a chick drown in one of those smaller waterers. 

 

In some cases, it can actually prevent them from drinking, and I want my day-olds to be able to get to the water all the time. But with the bell waterers, you can do that. 

 

So there you have it! There’s 3 different waterers for chicks that’ll keep your new flock hydrated and happy!

 

Are My Chicks Too Cold Or Too Hot?

Are My Chicks Too Cold Or Too Hot?

 

 

Main Takeaways:

  • If your chicks are walking around, eating, etc, their brooder temperature is probably okay.
  • If they’re huddling under/near the heat source, they’re probably cold. (Might also hear loud cheeping).
  • If they’re scattered way away from the heat source, they’re probably too hot.

 

More reading:

How many chicks should be in a brooder

 

Early Signs Your Chick Is A Rooster

Early Signs Your Chick Is A Rooster

 

Main Takeaways:

  • You can try feather sexing as early as 3 days
  • Look for prominent combs at about 4 weeks (breed dependent)
  • Crowing at an early age is a strong sign (rarely alpha hens crow as adults but not as chicks under 16 weeks old)

 

More reading:

7 Ways To Sex Baby Chicks

 

Are Chickens Good Pets?

Are Chickens Good Pets?

 

Other Reading:

What To Feed Chickens

Treats For Backyard Chickens