Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Recently I made the round of the local feed stores.  CHICK DAYS have started, and I love to see the new baby PEEPS!  In one store there were several people gathered around some metal troughs that contained different breeds of chicks, and as I got closer I could hear comments like, "...Oh - the poor little things!  Just look - their bottoms are all ...DIRTY!....Do you think they're sick?  No, they are moving, but this one is just laying there with its head in the shavings....oooooh, I wonder why no one is taking care of them...."
  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


Angela said...

I went to Tractor Supply yesterday. As soon as I got in the store I could hear the little peeping of the baby chicks! They were so cute! They had the yellow ones, red ones and a multi colored looking ones. They had baby yellow ducks and also bunnies. You know I had to pick them up because it has been years since I've held one. I didn't try to pick up the rabbits though. I just tried to pet one but it took off to the other side.

I think they had just put these out. They all looked pretty good to me. They did have a sign that said you had to buy 6 chicks or 2 ducks at a time. You couldn't buy just 1 of any of them. One lady bought 4 ducks. She had 2 kids with her and when I was in my truck out she came to a car load full of kids. I think she had 6 kids total. Hope those poor ducks make it!

Have a Great Day!

Verde Farm said...

Great post!! Angela, I was at Tractor Supply last spring in Teays Valley and thought their chicks looked pretty good and healthy and warm. I am amazed by the response you got from the men that work there--that really makes me ill. The other big concern I have this time of year is what Angela implied--the ducks, chicks and rabbits all purchased for Easter gifts for kids by parents that dont’ have a clue what it means to keep these animals and how quickly they grow up. They set them out on the side of the road when they don’t want them any longer and it is just tragic. Had to bring that up too :)

Chatty Crone said...

I agree with all of you. The poor chicks have no idea what is going to happen and the families probably don't know either!

Remember when the used to dye them with colors?

Thanks for setting us straight and trying to tell the store. Wish they would have listened.


Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Oh Monica Sweetie...
It just breaks my heart when people living in the city buy these for their kids for toys for a short period of time, not realizing the responsibility that each one can be, not to mention there are city codes that don't allow all areas to have them.

How sad that this store could only think that a new batch would be coming soon, and weren't even concerned for the health and well being of this little chicks. What kind of a chance do they have? So sad.

We live one street over from the 1 acre farms here in the city and I hear the roosters crow every morning, it just does my heart good to hear them. I always got enough of the chickens when visiting Grandma's farm, I never wanted one for a pet. So much responsibility.

Thank you sweetie for sharing such sound advice to folks about these little Easter chicks. You never know how many you may reach out to with this very informative post.

Love you sweetie. Hugs to Miss Lizzy as well. Dashboard lost all of my links. It is showing that I am not following anyone. So I have no idea when anyone posts now, and unless someone comes to visit, I can't get over to visit. Now that I have your link again, I will be back soon. Many hugs sweetie and so much love, Sherry

Larkrise garden girl said...

That was great advice. There is a commitment when you purchase chicks.People don't realize they still need heat lamps and take awhile before they can be outside in the cold.

Home Made Quilts By Granny said...

Good advice. Trish

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Oh how sad. I've got a broody leghorn hen and I'm thinking about letting her sit an egg or two - from our Americauna most likely.

Nanniepannie said...

A great post, I really enjoyed reading it. I have a vague memory from childhood (48+ years ago)going into a 5&Dime and seeing all these dyed chicks running around. My Mom got be a duck instead of a chic, but our boxer killed it within days. Not a great memory I guess that's why it's vague.

Carol............. said...

Good that you posted this. And how sad it is that it's felt that the babies are, as you put it, "expendable"...

I need to replace a few of my hens with some younger ones this year and will get a rooster and just allow a hen to hatch out a batch.

Becky K. said...

We have gotten them mail order in great shape and at a local farm auction where we examine them first.

These are extremely helpful hints.