We picked up 100 broilers from the hatchery on Wednesday afternoon.  They had hatched that morning.  They are all happy, healthy cheerful little buggers so far despite interestingly chilly weather.  This morning when we go to check the feed and water, I find their water is bone dry.  Here is what you should and should NOT do if you are ever in this situation.

1) Don’t fill the water tank at the icy cold hydrant especially when the weather is already chilly… use warm (or in today’s case) almost hot water from the tap.  Icy drinking water is bad for three reasons, it cools them down internally and also since two day old chicks aren’t terribly sturdy, they have a tendency to get wet when they drink next to each other AND it at least mildly counteracts the heating abilities of the heat lamps.   This is why we set the water tank in the brooder BEFORE bringing the chicks home… so it wouldn’t be freezing. 

2) Whether or not you fill it with cold water… don’t put the water tank in with 100 chicks who are all very thirsty.  While the tank will take care of all of these chicks under normal circumstances, it cannot let 100 drink at once.  Instead, set it in a separate area and add a few chicks at a time. This will avoid the trampling and complete water soaking as they stampede for the water they were deprived of for the early morning hours.

3) Once you see that they are in fact stampeding and soaking each other, don’t go fill another container with water for them to help prevent this, instead remove the water container and go to the good idea in step two.


If you do all the "don’t do’s" you will spend the next hour or so trying to warm up all 100 chicks who are looking something like a drowned rat and are now stampeding and trampling one another in an attempt to get warm and dry under the three heat lamps you’ve provided to ward off the chilly air in the first place.  It will take two children holding the wettest chicks in their shirts/hats under their coats and you using a ceramic heater as a blow dryer on the rest in the tank at least an hour to get them back to their previously cheerful state.  Plus, the pitiful state of those poor babies will be seared into your brain for the rest of the day.  And your youngest child will get a crash course in "I’m not the most important thing in the world… woe is me!" which he needed anyway, but when you’re trying to dry out and warm up 100 chicks ASAP, that is NOT the time to listen to your youngest sort that kind of thing out for himself. 

Now we know.