Other requisites for chick rearing are containers for water and food. A water fountain, which can be arranged by inverting a glass jam jar of water in a pan, and a small wooden trough for food is all that is needed.
To start chicks feeding a little dry food is dropped first on to a flat board, and this is tapped—chicks, like human babies, are very imitative. Chicks do not need any food at all until they are forty-eight hours old, and they eat very little at first. Six feeds daily are given in, the first week, each being cleared away after ten minutes. Chick feed and chick mash are the two foods given to the brood, and these will, we hope, be obtainable even in wartime. As it is doubtful whether they will be made up as usual, the poultry farmer will be wise to allow all the green food—i.e., clean short grass—and all the sunlight possible. In this way some of the deficiencies of the wartime foods will be made good.
Mash is moistened with water and fed in troughs which are best protected by wire netting, so that the chicks do not walk in the food. An ordinary square or
oblong box—similar to a seed box– covered with r-in, wire netting makes a good mash trough. An owner who is away all day can give chick feed first and last in the day, and while he is absent can leave dry mash in special mash hoppers that will be left open all day.
Now for quantities. A dozen chicks at a week old will need a handful of chick feed and a handful of chick mash daily. The hen will have a handful of wheat or maize. The chick food is increased gradually until at one month they will eat three times the quantity. The number of meals is gradually reduced—five after one week, four from three to six weeks, and so on. After the first week a pan of limestone grit should be provided, and, of course, a sufficiency of clean water at all times. Too much care over cleanliness can hardly be taken, and chicks respond to all the attention that can be given in this respect.
Some raisers are unable to put their chicks on grass, and may have to keep them entirely under cover. Green food should then be provided in addition to the cod-liver oil and other materials that the mash contains. Odd table scraps come in useful here. Watercress, mustard and cress, onion tops, lettuce, dandelions, chickweed, boiled nettles, all minced finely before being given to the chicks, will be appreciated. Apple, turnip and carrot parings chopped or minced, or the whole turnip grated on a kitchen grater into small chips, are good food for chicks that are confined in the runs.
At six or seven weeks, the chicks are ready to take growers’ mash in place of the chicken mash. This, as a rule, does not contain the cod-liver oil that should be present in the chick mash. At seven weeks, the chicks should be ready to leave the hen. Take the hen away and leave the chicks in the same coop, with plenty of dry litter for a week or two. They can then be housed in the main hen house, but preferably in a separate “ flat “ of their own. A shelf suitably prepved will do admirably. Three meals a day, allowing a handful of food daily to each chick, will be needed at ten weeks old. Both in the coop and in the self contained flat to which the chicks pass when weaned from the hen, cleanliness can only be maintained by strict attention to the floor and litter. It is best at the outset to cover the floor of the coop with sand, sifted ash, or sawdust, or even dry earth, so that the floor can easily be scraped clean. This material will be renewed weekly or even more often. A r-in.-thick layer of chaff or chopped hay and straw will cover the soil or sand and this, too, will be renewed at least weekly.