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Chicken information

Congratulations on choosing to raise and care for a chicken. Chickens are small,and require lots of care in the beginning of their lives, they need friends so think about the conditions that they will be living in.

Raising Baby Chicks

Chicks should be left in the incubator for about 24 hours to dry and fluff up. There is no harm leaving them in the incubator for up to 48 hours as just before they hatched the remaining yolk would have been drawn inside them and they can happily live off that for a day or two.

As soon as they are ready, they can be moved into a box with sides at least two feet high. Cardboard boxes are sufficient and should be kept in a draft free area out of direct sunlight.

Try to eliminate sharp corners of the boxes by placing and taping curved cardboard in the corners. If chicks get frightened they will huddle together in a corner and sometimes can be smothered and die, it is harder to do this if there are no true corners.

The heat lamp should have been turned on a day or two prior to moving the chicks in, making sure to check the temperature and adjusting the heat lamp accordingly. The temperature needs to be about the same as the temperature used in incubation, so about 37°C. The chicks will soon let you know if the temperature is too hot by moving away from the heat lamp or too cold by huddling under it. As the chicks get older the heat lamp can be moved further away from them.

For the first few days it is best to line the box with paper towels or similar as the chicks are still learning what food is and what food isn't. Litter or sawdust will be pecked at, sometimes consumed and can be deadly. Don't line the floor with anything slippery as the chick's legs won't be strong enough at first and this can cause complications such as straddle legs which is where their legs grow sideways and make it impossible to walk.

When moving the chicks to the box some people like to gently dip the chick's beaks into the water so they learn faster where the water is.

You can purchase starter crumbles from rural supply stores, farming stores and feed stores, which is sufficient for starting the chicks off. It is a good idea to put the feed directly on the paper towels for the first day or two as chicks will peck at anything by their feet, just until they have learned what food is and then start using shallow dishes. Never let the food get wet or damp. Fungus can grow rapidly in these warm conditions and could poison the chicks.

Make sure they have 24 hour access to food and clean water and that the water is not deep enough for a chick to drown in. Using a shallow container with marbles in it is often a preferred choice as chicks have tendencies and urges to jump into liquid. This is presumed to come from the chicks spending their first 21 days of life in liquid.

Chicken Judging on Agriculture Day

Perching: the chicken that perches fastest, stays there and is the  most relaxed. (no clipped wings)

Type: best conformation - a good looking chicken. Having a well fed bird will influence the birds conformation.

Care and Attention (rearing): how well the chicken has been cared for, e.g. in good condition, no lice, good clean healthy looking feathers, clean bottom. The judge will speak to each child to find out how much they know about their chicken.

The judge will generally be looking for a good bond between the child and the chicken throughout the judging.