You Live and You Learn!
It is through an unfortunate circumstance I write this post, however a very educational experience that I thought would be beneficial to share. As many poultry enthusiasts, we eagerly await the first hatch and ship dates advertised by hatcheries and breeders. Our intentions were to get in on the earliest shipment order possible which best fit our egg production purpose flock. You know how it goes, the sooner the eggs flow the sooner they start “feeding themselves”. I ordered a small order of peeps (15 minimum) from a hatchery 3 states away (we are located in West Virginia), so the climate here is always cold in the winter months. Lets look at 3 tips on how to best be prepared for your peep's to show up!
Got your pen and paper handy? Do your research about each hatchery and try to order from one that meets your needs and in the closest proximity to you! This aids in reducing the stress of shipping. I had two hatcheries within the same general distance, therefore read reviews, ask questions, research, etc.
My peeps hatched Feb. 4th, shipped Feb. 5th, arrived early morning Feb. 6th all within the expectations of the hatchery. When I opened the box, one poor little gal didn’t make the trip and the others were very lethargic and questionable at best. Come to find out, the location they spent the night at (our local PO hub) was at a whopping 12° that night, and we all know sometimes people miss things (or more likely than not do not pay attention) and there is a possibility they were not handled properly and ended up getting entirely too cold. If you just want peeps for the adventure, I highly recommend either picking them up if at all possible or ordering when shipping is a little easier. For our flock, the earlier the better as far as production is concerned, but hind sight is 20/20 and now I wish we would have waited for the sake of the birds. We quickly put them in their brooder (90°-95° Fahrenheit 1” above litter) and tried getting them warmed up. In situations such as this, I chose to increase the temperature temporarily to try and get them up and going better since the trip was quite rough on them.
Order the recommended electrolyte supplement pack for chicks! This helps get them up and going a lot better and faster. If worse comes to worse and you do not have any of these products, offer some sugar dissolved in warm water. If they are weak or don’t take to it right away, take each peep and dip their little beak in it to give them a taste and get them started. Chances are they will not drink right away, but will get enough to return to it as needed. Beware, however, too much sugar water can lead to diarrhea which will open up a whole other can of worms, one of which your peeps will not be happy with! There are also recipes out there for homemade electrolyte substitutes to help pep up your new flock members, which include easy to come by products such as baking soda, water, sugar, and other household components. It was also suggested to get either flavorless or diluted pedialyte to aid in getting electrolytes in your birds. If they are extremely lethargic, unstable, and collapsing, the most important thing is getting something mentioned above in them as soon as possible and try to get some chick specific products in them at first opportunity.
And lastly but possibly most importantly, research all that is involved in raising/brooding peeps and what all can go wrong, because chances are at least some of those things will happen, and compose a chicken first aid kit. This way, no matter what happens, you are prepared unlike I was! You live and you learn! Unfortunately, as sad as it is, we know you win some and you lose some. As much as we would like to, we can’t save them all at times, but if you do your research and prepare yourself for a lot of the possibilities, you have a much better chance of coming out of the situation with a positive outcome versus taking a blind leap.
I wish you all well in your poultry experiences and may God Bless you and yours!