I have to do WHAT to my day old chicks?!

Buying chicks from Chicken Debbie at Agway the past two years has shielded me from many of the less-than-cute realities of chick hatching. The most notable among these is the violent and cruel end awaiting the vast majority of male chicks. Hatching one’s own chicks means taking responsibility for the lives (or deaths) of all those boys.

Every wonder how chicks are sexed? I always thought it involved peering at chick bits with a loup, but I was wrong! In reality, sexing is done by the emerging wing feathers.

sexing chicks

You see, pullets develop faster than cockerels, at least for the first few weeks. Just like humans, the boys catch up and pass the girls later. I can do that!

One must also deal with any dead or deformed chicks, yet another unpleasant task done for you at your friendly neighbourhood hatchery. I can do that…I think. Once you have a brooder full of healthy day olds, though, your work as hatcher is not yet over.

The vast majority of chicks purchased from a hatchery (whether directly or through a feed store) have been vaccinated for Mareks, a deadly, highly-virulent illness which can wipe out an entire flock in short order. You want to hatch? You’d better be ready to vaccinate for Mareks. I’m sure there is many a hatcher who opts out of this task; I won’t be taking that chance.

I had hoped that vaccinating would be something easy, like drops of medication in the water. Bzzzzz. Sorry. There is an actual injection involved, but, fortunately it is subcutaneous. I went to youtube to learn what I was in for in about 18 days, and found this.

I can do that!

 

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7 thoughts on “I have to do WHAT to my day old chicks?!

  1. You’re going to vaccinate? Vaccinating for Mareks does not mean they will not develop mareks, just means that they will not have cancer forming Mareks. If Mareks is in your environment you are pretty much screwed.

    Unless you have Mareks on your property now, there is no reason at all to vaccinate. I don’t, and will never. I just find it unnecessary. I do vaccinate for ILT which is prevalent in our area, and is a reportable disease.. meaning they will come out and kill your entire flock if one bird develops it. Scary… But it is done via eye drop, and the vet comes out and does every bird for us.

    Birds in Canada are not vaccinated for Mareks. We don’t have hatcheries like you guys do, and the ones we do have don’t offer the vaccinations. I spoke with a vet tech who does vaccinate her birds because it is a risk on her property. She said you have to ‘know’ people to get the vaccine here.

    Not trying to convince you otherwise. If you feel like you need to vaccinate because you are at a high risk, by all means! Just don’t let everyone tell you it’s a necessity, because it isn’t, and vaccinating will not stop them from developing mareks.

    I know a lot about the disease via a friend who’s whole flock developed it, and she had them all vaccinated prior. A necropsy from the state lab confirmed it. It’s one scary disease!

    You should keep your boys all in a separate area so they can grow out and you can decide which one will be best to keep (I suggest keeping two in case one dies). Purebred roosters of good quality are usually really easy to sell. I never had an issue. :)

    I’m very excited to hear if your eggs are developing!

    • You got me scouring BYC for dissenting opinions, and did I ever find them. Bottom line: Chicken Debbie says there is Marek’s in our area, so I don’t really see that I have a choice. With broody chicks, it will be different. It seems they get some immunity from their mother at first. Then, exposing them to turkeys (while possibly exposing the turkeys to blackhead) immunises them with the turkey form of the virus, which is what the vaccine is made of! So, going forward, I won’t immunise, but this time, I shall.

      That said, MAN is the vaccine ever hard to find locally. I’ll likely end up ordering online, which means a higher shipping cost (it’s a live vaccine and requires refrigeration), and you have to buy the cooler and cold pack to travel with it. The amount you get is sufficient for 1000 chicks, and I’ll have 37 at the absolute outside. There’s nothing for it; it’s the only size there is, and the vaccine is dead an hour after mixing. Sigh.

      NotHeedleyWendy, part mama in this venture, will be my vaccination assistant.

      • I’m glad you looked into it more :) If it is in your area, you are right to vaccinate. I am SO glad it is not a big issue here. Neither is blackhead. Chronic Respiratory Disease and ILT are prevalent and they make me extremely nervous!

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