Health

Background

How to check day-old chick quality?

Getting off to a good start with a new flock needs good preparation, but it is also dependent on the quality of the day-old chicks arriving from the hatchery.

A good assessment of this quality is essential to be able to estimate what you can get out of the flock and what extra actions can be taken.

For that it is good practice to:

  • Pick up chicks from various trays upon arrival on farm for a proper assessment all around
  • Weigh 5% of the chicken trays for a good idea of the initial weight of the day-old chicks
  • Pay attention to uniformity
  • Counting the chicks in at least 5 trays gives you the possibility to determine the exact number of chicks you received. Sometimes numbers can be off, distorting water and feed consumption data later on.
Nice, clean and uniform chicks, for a dream start for your flock. Photo: Marcel Berendsen
Nice, clean and uniform chicks, for a dream start for your flock. Photo: Marcel Berendsen

9 essential checks to get it right

  1. Reflex: Lay a chick on its back. It should stand up within 3 seconds
  2. Eyes: Should be clean, open and shiny, not dull or closed
  3. Navel: Should be closed and clean, not with remnants of yolk or open
  4. Feet: Should be normal colour and not swollen and feel warmer than your cheek
  5. Beak: Should be clean with closed nostrils, without red spots on the beak or malformations
  6. Yolk sac: Stomach should be soft an malleable, not hard
  7. Down: Should be dray and shiny, not wet and tacky
  8. Uniformity: All chicks should be the same size, more than 20% too light or too heavy is a bad start
  9. Vent temperature: Should be 40°C, 2-3 hours after arrival.

For more practical poultry tips, check out these books!