Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Some Things Are--Naturally--Hard on a Farm

Thursday afternoon (Aug. 19), Herb and I went out to watch the chicks for awhile.  I noticed at least three that had bottoms that looked like this one.  It looked to me like they had bloody diarrhea stuck on their little bottoms, and one had actually lost the downy feathers there.  I called Welp Hatchery, and all they could do was suggest two different antibiotics, although they weren't sure which one was needed.  I checked the feed and discovered that the 20% protein chick starter I had bought at Tractor Supply was NOT medicated, as recommended by the hatchery.  I had assumed that all chick starters were medicated; I knew that what I had bought at Flintstone Farm and Garden for my first batch of chicks was medicated, and the chicks never had any problems other than Carmen growing up with a bad personality, which I can hardly blame on the feed!

So I called the helpful people at FFG, and they advised me to try medicated chick food which has a coccidiostat (meaning, it stops coccidiosis) because coccidiosis causes bloody diarrhea.  My trusty Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens also said that while the chicks may survive coccidiosis, they will not thrive.  Hmm, meat chickens that don't thrive don't give much meat.  That's a no-brainer!  You never saw anyone get from here to there so fast, and home again with a new bag of chick feed.  Just to be extra-sure, I cleaned and bleached out the food and water containers and followed FFG's advice to add sugar to the water for 24 hours.

Two days later, the chicks all look like this:
Don't get the wrong idea:  This one's asleep.  Really!  It woke up a few seconds later and ran around and ate.  If only I could sleep like that at night!  Watching that dead-to-the-world relaxation did give me the idea of my previously posted slide show of the chicks' tips for insomniacs.
Except for the first one which still has some lingering diarrhea, the rest of the chicks all look like this lively and adventurous one that is climbing Mount Susan . . .
. . . and this miniature ostrich look-alike . . .
. . . and this perky Pepi-two, future layer of blue eggs . . .
. . . and this little bright-eyed beauty.  They are lively and energetic and growing!  Their wing feathers are coming in, and some of them are starting to sprout little tail feathers like the Rubber Chicken up above. 
Now, I'm all for doing things the natural way, but I am not in favor of it if it leads to sick animals.  I know some natural adherents NEVER give medications to animals because it isn't natural.  Well, I don't think raising animals on a farm is natural.  And I don't think raising chicks under a brooder light is natural, but I don't have a broody hen, and even if I did, she couldn't foster 32 chicks.  I don't think processing 25 chicks at once and sticking them in a freezer is natural, either.  And we have too much money invested in these chicks to let survival of the fittest be our modus operandi.  So we will be as natural as we can, keeping the animals' well-being and our financial investment in mind.   When the chicks are old enough, they'll go outside in a chicken tractor to forage safely for most of their food, and by the time we eat them, the coccidiostat will be long out of their systems, and we'll be assured they had healthy, happy lives in our care.

And for my next batch of chicks, I'm going straight to Flintstone Farm and Garden for their feed!


  1. The second pic (of the sleeping beauty) is hysterical!! I don't recall our chicks ever lying down like that to sleep--it looks like he is ready for the chopping block already!

  2. A bunch of them sleep like that, but always the Naked Necks. They inspired me to make the slide show on Snapfish about sleeping tips for insomniacs because I don't remember my first Ameraucanas doing that, and the current ones don't, either. When they sleep they look like little birds on their nests. I think if this poor chick knew what was in its future, it might pick a different position that wasn't so reminiscent of the chopping block!

  3. Bruce just told me he used to give our chickens a probiotic powder in their water when they were little--he can't remember if it came with the chicks or if he got it at the feed store. I would never have remembered that.
    Hope they are all doing better.

  4. That must be similar to the medicated chick feed. Yes, they're all quite lively and growing--really getting tail and wing feathers. I'll have to put up some new pictures.

  5. That would be great--so we can watch them grow!


I LOVE comments so please take a minute and let me know you were here! Sorry I have to use Captcha, but I hope you'll comment anyway! Comments make my day! :)