How To Prevent Piling Of Chicks

Fear, cold temperatures or a change in surroundings can all cause pilin
August 07, 2017 | 10:44 am /
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Keep your chicks from piling in a corner of the brooder and smothering one another.

Out of everything my wife and I have witnessed in the seven years we’ve raised chickens, the scene we encountered one June morning was the most devastating. In one corner of our henhouse lay the limp bodies of three heritage Rhode Island Red pullets and one cockerel. One-day-old chicks had arrived eight weeks earlier, and on their first night out of the brooder, they had succumbed to a phenomenon known as piling, when young birds all congregate in one place—usually a corner—and suffocate.

“Fear, cold temperatures or a change in surroundings can all cause piling,” says Tom Watkins, general manager at Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa. “When any of those things happen, a chicken’s normal reflex is to congregate in one spot with others of its flock. Some breeds are more likely to pile than others. Cochins, for example, are so fluffy that they can quickly smother each other.”

Watkins says one way to keep chicks from doing this is to make brooder pens that feature rounded corners. In henhouses, a sound preventative strategy is to affix cardboard slats to the four corners so that chickens won’t congregate in a narrow spot. Poking holes in these slats beforehand could prevent a pullet or cockerel from suffocating should it somehow manage to maneuver behind the cardboard. Also, be sure to cover the top of the cardboard to decrease the chances of birds moving behind it.


◼ Editorial /
Topics: chocken, farm

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