By Candace Pezzuti

Hand Feeding Schedule
Feed Every 3 Hours

From one day to 6 days old
6:00 am
9:00 am
12:00 pm
3:00 pm
6:00 pm
9:00 pm * From 7 days old to 21 days, Drop the 9:00 pm feeding.


1- Kaytee hand feeding formula. 2- To that I add Gerber’s baby food stage two, chicken or ham. Appx. 1c Scoop of Kaytee, then add 1 tsp. of baby food. The baby food increases the protein that the chicks need, especially for the first 10 days. Discontinue after 10 days if you choose. 3- Add distilled water to the above mixture until the formula is the consistency of being smooth and creamy. The first 5 days it should be more liquidly increasing the consistency to a creamy cream of wheat cereal after that. 4- Temp of the formula should always be checked before feeding the chicks; test on your wrist, the food should be warm but not hot. Stir down the formula especially in the middle were hot spots tend to accumulate.

From 21 days to being totally weaned.
1- Hand Fed chicks will take longer to wean than if being reared by their parents, so be PATIENT.
2- Keep a few old cocks in the same cage as the chicks. They may help feed them and also will teach them how to eat and drink on their own.
3- I use a breeding cage appx. 24”W x 16”Dx 17” H, when the chicks are 10 days old. I then place the nest of chicks in the cage with the cocks and take them out to feed per the above schedule. Check the chick’s crop to see if the cocks are feeding in between your feeding. If you leave egg food with peas in the cage it will be easy to see if they are helping out. Cocks will have a natural instinct to feed. I do not use hens because they will want to make a nest and if no nesting material is available; will pluck the chicks for their feathers.
4- I, leave the chicks from one day old to 10 days old in the parents nest if the parents are feeding a little. If the parents show no sign of any kind of rearing the chicks...I remove them (because they may kill the chicks) and put them in a clean nest, placed in a small reptile plastic cage. I then use a heating pad under the cage to keep them warm. The temperature should be around 100-101 degrees F. If, your birdroom is warm then you do not need the heating pad during the day. (Note: chicks that are too cold will be unresponsive; you need to add more heat. However, chicks that are getting to much heat will look dehydrated.) If you hold the chick in your hand it should feel warm but not hot.

5- Important: Do not take for granted that your chicks are eating enough on their own. Always check the crop to see how much food is in the chick at each feeding. Some will wean faster than others BUT always check to see if they have food in their crop.

6- Do not flight them until they are really ready and then flight them along with one or two of the cocks which was in the cage with them.

You can put several nest of chicks in one cage at the same time, just make sure they have, their bands on.

1- Burn in the Crop
If, the formula was too hot you may burn the chick’s crop. It will look red and feel hot to the touch. The chick will always let you know by Shaking its head. Place a cold piece of toweling on the spot. Neosporin applied to the area will help prevent infection. By, the next feeding it should be alright.


Remove the air by aspiring it out with a syringe (small diabetic needle). Place the needle in the middle of the crop and pull the plunger until the air comes out.

Then administer an, antibiotic to the chick. The gas in the crop will prevent you from feeding the chick unless you let the air out.

Formula that is not heated enough may develop bacteria thereby causing the crop to fill with air or gas.

If you do not have a small syringe then prick the crop with a fine needle.

Once on the antibiotic it should resolve itself within the next few feedings.

I have reared Gloster, Fife and Norwich and Border chicks all with great results. The chicks I lost were those that the hen knew were genetically ill and would not live even if being fed.

Note: Hand feeding chicks does not make them bad feeders to their own when breeding; actually I have found that they are better feeders than those raised by their own parents.