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Questions about hand-rearing Day old chicks

Aryia

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Hello all,

Unfortunately I had to pull some eggs since my female was inconsistent with her brooding and letting them get cold. The majority of the clutch already went dark by the time I decided to intervene. Two of the little ones hatched 10/27 and today (10/30) and I feel they are doing okay but I would like to double-check my research and gets some tips from people with experience. Also a more urgent concern, I can WFM most days but there are roughly 2-3 days of the week where I have to go in. Since I work at a hospital there is no way to take them with me. I realize it is not ideal, but could they tolerate a 6-8 hour break in their feeding schedule for those days?

Their current care regimen:
  • Brooder: I leave them in the incubator at 99.5 degF and roughly 40% humidity. I will transition them into a tank with a heatpad + thermostat below it as they grow up.
  • Feedings: I withheld food for about 12 hours after hatching to allow time to digest the egg yolk. Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula: For the first two days I’ve been following instructions on the packaging and mixing 1pt formula to 6pt water, fed at 108 degF. I remove bubbles from the syringe (with a magic tip) to minimize air going into the crop. Starting Day 3 I will be mixing 1pt formula to 3pt water. So far he has gotten about 6-7 feedings per day at roughly 2-3 hour intervals (I’m trying! They literally hatched before a giant deadline, but I’m working hard to manage time)
  • Growth: The first chick hatched at 3g and weighed in at 4g on Day 2. He is active and alert, begs for food, holds his head up and can even flip himself back on his feet if he topples over. I feel like he’s not gaining as much weight as he should be, is this because 1:6 is too watery to start with?
Questions:
  • Is there a probiotic I can add to the regimen to help kickstart their digestive system? I’ve read about people adding yogurt, etc.
  • I heard a strange clicking sound when he chirps this afternoon, but it went away after a couple hours. I only feed a tiny bit (left to right) and give time in-between. The magic tip is actually really nice at controlling the amount and there’s never a mess, but I’m kind of worried that he managed to aspirate somehow? Is this normal?
  • Is there any chance mom will take them? She only has the eggs that I left with her (darkened ones) and she isn’t really brooding anymore.
 

Aryia

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Here is a picture of them. Does the poop look okay? Sorry for the blurry image, they won't hold still until they've been fed. (They are kept separate after feeding).

Also I read on various sites that they are supposed to be fed around 1ml per feeding starting Day 1 but this is how full his crop was after about 0.5ml. His crop empties most of the way in about 2.5 hours, and I feel like he stops wanting to eat at around this crop size. Should I be giving him more or is 0.5 ml per feeding enough?

Sorry for all the questions! Appreciate any input, thanks!
WeChat Image_20221030061141.jpg WeChat Image_20221030061114.jpg
 

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Zara

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but could they tolerate a 6-8 hour break in their feeding schedule for those days?
No. Find someone to stand in. Teach them how to prepare food, feed, check temps in brooder etc

roughly 40% humidity.
I would up it to 55-60 (do it slowly so it´s not a sudden change for him)

fed at 108 degF
Don´t feed food over 105F.

Also I read on various sites that they are supposed to be fed around 1ml per feeding starting Day 1 but this is how full his crop was after about 0.5ml.
They should eat approx 10% of their body weight, so if he´s still 4g then he should be eating 0.4CC. Always better to feed a little less than too much to avoid stretching the crop.
 

Aryia

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Thanks for the kind info Zara. Just to clarify, the food measures at 108 before I draw it up and get rid of air bubbles etc, by the time I'm done with the whole ordeal it should be cooler. How much weight should I expect to see them gain everyday? Some sources say they double their weight everyday for the first four days which I'm not seeing, which is why I'm kind of concerned.

I will try really hard to find someone to stand-in, but truth be told it's very hard finding someone who is good with this type of stuff last minute who can come around every 2-3 hours.
 

fashionfobie

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If I were in your shoes, and I couldn't find someone to stand in, I would personally take some of my own sick leave to help support the babies. The birds need you during this time. You cannot leave them.
 

Aryia

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I would too, except an annual due date is coming up next week that I cannot miss without risk of getting fired, and that wouldn't help the birds in any way. Trust me I would. I'm contemplating bringing them with me and keeping them in a hotel nearby, not sure if that's really the best case compared to 6 hours of no feed considering how cold it might get on the way. The whole timing has just been awful, if this were one week later I could have just taken 2-3 weeks vacation.
 

Shannan

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Would it be possible for you to "board them" with your vet during the day each day? If not, you might check with an animal rescue or a college to find someone who can stand in for you. The wildlife rescue my have a volunteer to step in. (I would if I were close to you)
 

Aryia

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I will check... thank you for your suggestions. It's just really shizzty timing considering its Sunday right now and I have to leave in the early AMs for work sigh. What I could do I guess is feed them through the night, and when I'm gone for work it will be their "sleeping time". Is there any chance mom's instincts might kick in if she heard the baby cry? I could observe them through the night. Ideally I would want her to raise them.
 

Matto

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For days 1-3 they should be fed every 90 minutes, round the clock. After that you can space out the feedings more and give them a single 6 hour break, but if that is going to be when you are at work then you still need to wake up every few hours to feed. I usually mix the formula a little thicker than they recommend on the package. They should be gaining roughly 10% weight per day.
 

Aryia

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This is crop size after about 2 hours. I generally wait till it goes down a little bit more before feeding again, is that around right? I read that you don't want it completely empty but also you don't want a bunch of left over food sitting there before feeding again. Judging by the feed every 90 min I likely should be feeding a little less per feeding but more often? The older one will literally suck the food out of the syringe now and he does a little head shake dance to burp out air after every feeding, it's pretty cute.
1667183929481.jpeg

Here they are today.. the one on the right is the slightly older one. I've been calling them boys but I guessing these are girls from their eye color? Mom is a cinnamon.
1667183859866.jpeg
 

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Matto

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I will check... thank you for your suggestions. It's just really shizzty timing considering its Sunday right now and I have to leave in the early AMs for work sigh. What I could do I guess is feed them through the night, and when I'm gone for work it will be their "sleeping time". Is there any chance mom's instincts might kick in if she heard the baby cry? I could observe them through the night. Ideally I would want her to raise them.
No, do not give them back to the mother. Once you pull them, you have to feed them.
 

Zara

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I read that you don't want it completely empty but also you don't want a bunch of left over food sitting there before feeding again.
That´s right. You just need the crop to empty once completely per 24 hours (that is the break that Matto mentioned above).

Judging by the feed every 90 min I likely should be feeding a little less per feeding but more often?
Expecially with those really young ones, I found that little more often was much better than packing food into them. The food processed through the crop smoother and we had no issues.

edit; I´m pretty sure Susanne Russo wrote about that (little more often) on her site Ask Noodles. I´ll see if I can find a link.
 

Aryia

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Thanks Zara! I have gone through the link before, it is very helpful but a tad bit confusing since it's aimed at chicks 3 weeks+ at a 6-6-12 feeding schedule. It also talks about chicks doubling their weight everyday for the first few days, is this what I should be experiencing? I only see roughly 1g gain per day. I think I should cut back the amount per feeding and increase the frequency of feedings. The chicks keep begging even when they're full, I guess it's too early to trust their own judgement.

The first chick (Day 5) has started to open its eyes. I suspect these guys are actually Recessive Silver, since mom is split and dad has unknown splits.

I'm quite exhausted with the weird sleeping schedule to accommodate work, I will update with some pictures tomorrow. I appreciate all the input you all have given me.
 
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