Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I looked into the troughs to see what the folks were talking about - and sure enough, every last trough contained chicks and ducks with manure covering their vent areas! One lady found a tissue and was helping one of the chicks to get clean - but she was also pulling loose some of the down on the chick's bottom. When they asked what was wrong, I offered that the chicks were "stressed" from shipping, and should be cleaned by wetting their butts so the excretement could be removed. With blocked vents, they would not be able to eliminate waste and could die. Of course I approached the workers who were standing around in a customer service station, talking. After briefly explaining the concerns of the customers to the men, one remarked - "....uh, well, we're expecting a new shipment either tomorrow or the next day....". That comment made me realize that the chicks were "expendable". I felt badly for the waste of those young lives.
With Spring rapidly approaching so many stores are offering bunnies and chicks for purchase as pets or for starting 4-H projects. If you are looking to buy chicks to start a flock for eggs, meat, or just entertainment, don't buy unhealthy chicks. It may be possible to cure them, but there is also a good chance that you'll be caring for a special needs flock that may never regain the health they should have had from the very beginning.
Look for chicks with bright, clear eyes, clean vent areas, and chicks with interest in food and drink. Water should be clean, food should be readily available. The babies will be wanting to nap alot, but some will be walking about, eating or drinking, and a peep now and then will be normal.
Never purchase chicks with twisted beaks, bent legs, dirty vent areas, or one with dull eyes. Droopy and hunched over chicks are not healthy. If you touch a sleepy chick it should respond and move away, but calm down quickly. If the chicks are very noisy, something is wrong - they may be cold, thirsty, or hungry, or worse! There should be no blood, raw or sore looking areas on the chicks, no missing fluff on the birds.
Enjoy Chick Days, but be sure to choose chicks wisely. Healthy flocks produce healthy products for you and your family.
Signed - the ChickenWrangler