How to Care for Pekin Bantam Chicks?
In most cases, Pekin Bantams are mistaken for Cochin Bantams. The two breeds of chickens are not the same. This is because Pekin Bantams are a true chicken breed while Cochin Bantams are just a “bantamized” type of the larger breed of Cochins.
Therefore, it is worth noting the existing differences between these two confusing chicken breeds. Countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, the Republic of South Africa, and New Zealand including a few other nations have laid down specific and different standards regarding both Cochin Bantams and Pekin Bantams.
In terms of size, Pekin Bantams are roughly one-half or three-fourths of the regular breeds of backyard chickens. They also come in a variety of colors with some feathered-footed or clean-legged.
Pekin Bantams are a sight to behold and a real crown pleaser due to their small stature. While they are similar to other chicken breeds in their life cycle and general care, these birds need specific special considerations. For instance, their chicks require special care to help them grow and become healthy adult chickens. Below is a complete guide to handling and caring for Pekin Bantam chicks.
Caring for Pekin Bantam Chicks
In addition to their good looks, friendly nature, and small size, Pekin Bantam chickens are easy to care for. That is why these backyard chickens are a great choice for beginners because they don’t give too much trouble when handling them.
The same case applies to Pekin Bantam chicks. Unlike the adult ones, Pekin Bantam baby chicks need extra care as they grow. With utmost care for these little birds, you can expect them to mature faster and become productive much to your expectations.
– Setting Up the Brooder
Before your Pekin Bantam chicks are hatched, ensure that their brooder is ready to receive them. Bear in mind the brooder is going to be their home for the next few weeks or so until they are mature enough to join the rest of your backyard flock.
Alternatively, you can set up the brooder before your Pekin Bantam chicks arrive in the mail ( if you are sourcing them from a hatchery). In this case, you need to carry out the following tasks to ensure that the brooder is in good condition and that it can keep your little birds safe and comfortable throughout:
Start by adding some shavings to the brooder. During the first six weeks of raising Pekin Bantam chicks, make sure they are living in a temporary structure/box known as a brooder. You can buy one or improvise using locally sourced materials.
In this sense, you may use a large cardboard box, an old aquarium, a plastic storage bin, or a metallic chicken feeding trough to create a DIY brooder. This way, you will be able to save time and money.
Clean the brooder before adding a layer of shavings up to a few inches deep. Make sure the shavings are fresh kiln-dried to get rid of moisture that could lead to the growth of fungi and other pathogens that are detrimental to the survival of your chicks.
Be sure to maintain the cleanliness of the brooder at all times. Also, keep the brooder dry and free of chick droppings.
Just like most animals, baby chicks do not get comfortable when subjected to draughts. For that reason, the brooder should keep them safe from sudden temperature fluctuations. At the same time, the brooder must allow plenty of ventilation to facilitate the circulation of air in and out at all times.
Ensure that your brooder of choice has enough space for the chicks to move around comfortably. The brooder should be roomy enough to allow extra space for your chicks to drink, eat and exercise during the day. After all, raising Pekin Bantam chicks in an overcrowded brooder can lead to stress-related problems and disease.
You should also factor in the safety of your Pekin Bantam chicks while buying or constructing your own brooder. In this regard, make sure that the brooder is well covered using wire mesh to prevent curious pets and small predators from wreaking havoc on your little birds.
The wire mesh will also keep away curious housepets while preventing your chicks from escaping or wandering far from their brooder.
A brooding enclosure may come in handy, especially when you are raising Pekin Bantam chicks in larger numbers. Most of these brooding enclosures come in the form of plastic brooding panels, rolls of corrugated cards, adjustable brooding rings, or pieces of cardboard pieced together.
The sides of your brooder enclosure should be high enough to prevent your little birds from jumping over to escape.
– Getting a Heat Lamp
Normally, Pekin Bantam chicks hatched in incubators have no mother hen to provide them with much-needed warmth. So, without care and enough warmth, your chicks will not survive, especially when placed in a brooder to grow. Therefore, getting a heat lamp is highly recommended to supply your Pekin Bantam chicks with the warmth they need to stay comfortable.
The chicks must be kept at 90 degrees Fahrenheit during their first weeks of staying in their brooder. As such, install a heat lamp complete with an infrared bulb to provide the required temperature. While installing this heat lamp, factor in the safety of your chicks first.
Invest in a bungee cord to secure the heat lamp in place slightly above the ground where your chicks cannot reach. Also, the bungee cord will help prevent accidental fires in the brooder if the heat lamp falls off its clamp.
– Bedding for Baby Chicks
As mentioned above, bedding for your Pekin Bantam chics can be made from wood shavings. Make sure these shavings are clean and dry before placing them in the brooder. Change them every two weeks minimum to maintain cleanliness within the brooder.
Most significantly, sprinkle some little Karbadust onto the clean wood shavings. Place these shavings on the bottom of the brooder followed by clean Eragrostis grass on top. Never use oat hay or straw as these two materials can choke your Pekin Bantam chicks. On top of that, some hay may attract mites and other vermin that can become a nuisance to your chicks.
– Provide Enough Light
Chickens need enough light to see their surroundings. You can use natural light during the day or in the summer months. Alternatively, you may use artificial light from electric bulbs in winter to keep the brooder and the surrounding areas well-lit.
The light should be a little light to make them uncomfortable or too dim. Just like the heat lamp, the light bulbs should be suspended at a considerable height where chicks can not jump and reach them. The source of light should also not emit too much heat that can interfere with the daily activities of your Pekin Bantam chicks.
– Feeding Baby Chicks
Food is one of the essential things that your Pekin Bantam chicks need to grow healthy. As a matter of fact, these little chickens need the right food formulated just for them. The feed should have all the necessary nutrients for your baby chicks during their initial six weeks of existence. With that being said, their morning meal may include the starter or grower mash.
On the other hand, a fine-milled Lucerne meal soaked for a few minutes and added to the protein, calcium, and green foods should come in handy to provide a balanced diet for your chicks.
You may also grate a few non-toxic vegetables and fruits such as zucchini, carrots, watermelon, and others to feed them at least three times per week. Always use a clean feeder designed specifically for baby chicks to serve them food. Place the feed in the shade to preserve its flavor and nutritional value.
For your Pekin Bantam Chicks’ afternoon meal, provide dry mixed fowl food such as starter, grower, pellets, or laying meal, and a heaped teaspoon comprising sunflower. Any of these feeds should be provided in moderation.
Don’t forget to include Apple Cider Vinegar in the recommended proportions in drinking water to help your baby chicks overcome cases of sour crop, especially in summer.
– Fresh and Clean Water
Besides a nutritionally balanced diet, your Perkin Bantam chicks need fresh clean water all the time, particularly during the hot summer months. Water plays a significant role in digestion as well as in the hydration of your birds. Provide fresh water at least two times a day, using clean waterers designed for baby chicks.
Letting Pekin Bantam Chicks Outside
Once they are mature enough, Pekin Bantam chicks can be allowed outside their brooder. Usually, it is recommended that these newly hatched chicks be taken outside from day two onward or when they are dry or fluffy using this procedure:
- Take a cardboard ring consisting of some little food and clean water outside to entice your baby chicks to get out of their brooder.
- Watch them all the time they are outside to prevent some from straying or getting lost
- Bring them back to their brooder after a short while
- At six weeks onwards, take your Pekin Bantam chicks outside permanently provided that they are all fully feathered.
- By the time they are 12 weeks old, allow them to access the pen and run
Pekin Bantam chickens in general are easy to keep and maintain. This is why they are ideal for beginners and intermediate backyard chicken keepers. In particular, Pekin Bantam chicks are equally easy to raise.
You just need to give them a proper shelter/brooder, a balanced diet, and fresh clean water as they grow. Most importantly, provide adequate security to prevent them from becoming easy prey to predators.