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Chicks hatched to new homes

Spring tradition fun for families, but some care precautions necessary


by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Chicks need companionship. Don't buy just one, but if you have to separate one for some reason, try giving it a mirror that will temporarily act as a fake friend.About 100 families lined up at Coastal Farm and Ranch in Cornelius Saturday to get free chicks, just in time for Easter and a poultry-filled spring.

Little chicks are a delight for all ages, but they are also a responsibility.

If you found chicks in your Easter basket or are thinking about acquiring some, it’s important to prep for these little peepers and meet their accommodation requirements.

Lindi Costello, an employee of the Cornelius Coastal, likes watching chicks go home with excited families, but offers a few basic tips to ensure chicks are kept safe and healthy so they can grow up to be chickens.

n The chicks given away Saturday at Coastal and many chicks in feed and pet stores are less than a week old. They are very fragile and should not be handled regularly. “It stresses them out,” Costello said.

n Chicks need companionship. If you have just one, it will probably die, Costello said. If you need to separate a chick from the others for some reason — say it’s being picked on — try adding a mirror to the pen (see photo, page A1) to provide a fake friend.

n Without the warmth of a mother hen, chicks need an alternative heat source. Set heat lamps above their pen, preferably on one side. That way, they can huddle for warmth but also move to the other side to cool down. Be sure the heat lamp is set up so it won’t burn or melt the chicks’ pen. Costello recommends moving the lamps up a little higher after a few weeks when chicks are older and have more feathers. She also says it’s a good idea to keep chicks indoors with a heat source for about 16 weeks until they are fully feathered.

n Line their pen with newspaper, paper towels or pine shavings.

n If you have other pets, such as household dogs and cats, be sure they can’t get to the chicks. Raccoons and other predators are a danger to outdoor chickens of all sizes.

n Chicks need water, but they can also drown when they are small. Costello recommends finding a water pan designed for young chicks to keep them hydrated, but prevent drowning. She says chicks shouldn’t have water containers filled with more than a few ounces until they are older. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Chicks huddle in a bin at Coastal Farm and Ranch in Cornelius during the stores Chick-o-rama Saturday, when it handed out free chicks to nearly 100 families who showed up to get them.

n Costello recommends buying chick starter at the local feed or pet store. Transition to a layer feed in five to six months when they start laying their first eggs.

Lastly, it may seem obvious, but chicks do turn into chickens. They won’t stay palm-sized forever, so only get or keep chicks if you’re prepared to care for them over the long haul. Make sure you have adequate space in your yard for a secure shelter and a roaming area. Check with your city for rules regarding backyard chickens inside city limits.

Contact or visit local feed or pet stores if you’re looking to sell or get rid of your poultry. Store employees may have suggestions, and bulletin boards often hold notes from people looking for chickens. Releasing a domesticated animal into the wild is illegal in Oregon.




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