Your first batch of chicks has just arrived and all you can hear is them chirping. Perhaps, this is the first time you are raising baby chickens and you do not have a clue why chicks chirp. That is why I am here to help you know more.
Chick chirping can be brought about by several reasons. So, it is very important to listen to these little critters and know what they want from you.
Since they don’t talk, chicks chirp and this is their language and the only way they communicate. In this article, I am going to take you through some of the reasons that may lead top chick chirping.
Why do chicks chirp?
Chirping in chicks may happen because of a number of reasons. They may chirp to express emotions either happiness, fear or certain discomfort.
Additionally, chicks will chip when separated from the mother or other chicks, hunger and thirst, brooder temperature and disease.
Let’s get into details and explore the above reasons which may trigger sound of chicks to be produced.
As you know, chicks are not able to control their body temperatures at hatching. This means that baby chickens require supplemental heat to keep them warm.
Failure to get sufficient warmth, chicks may chill, get cold and die of hypothermia. Cold chicks will chirp loudly and in an insisting tone.
These little feathered friends will also hurdle together under a heat source and this may cause congestion or even death.
However, just to make sure your chicks remain warm, ensure that the brooder temperatures remain at 95 degrees F (equivalent to 35 degrees Celsius).
These brooder temperatures should remain constant for the first two weeks. Thereafter, reduce the heat 5 degrees each week by raising the heat source a few inches above the ground.
Baby chicks should remain under supplemental heat for 8 weeks until most of their juvenile feathers are fully developed.
However, there are several factors that determine brooder temperatures.
1 Chicken bedding
The choice of chicken coop bedding for chickens is very important. This is so especially when the coop floor is made of concrete.
Since not all farmers have chicken brooders, some will have no choice but to brood their chicks in the coop, bathroom or any other available space.
There are several materials that can be used as chick bedding. These materials include:
All the above materials can be used as chicken bedding but, check out on what suits your birds best. A good bedding material should be;
- Cheap and readily available.
- Very absorbent.
- Easy to use.
- Hard for chicks to swallow.
- Easy to spread and remove.
When putting any bedding material, always ensure the layer is thick enough to keep cold out of your chicks.
Avoid any fine type of bedding because chicks are very curious and may be tempted to swallow. When ingested these materials may lead to crop impaction in chicks.
Ventilations ensure that there is free air movement in and out of the chick brooder. The number and location of ventilation spaces will greatly determine the brooder temperature.
Too many ventilations located towards the wind direction will allow plenty of cold air and wind. This will make the little critters cold.
Ensure that air spaces are located near the roof so as to allow excess warm air out.
3 Source of heat
The choice of a heat source is very important. Red bulbs and heating plates are the best for chicks. They will only produce enough warmth like that of a mother hen which is fine with chicks.
Avoid white light because this may interrupt and interfere with the sleeping pattern of your baby chicks. Additionally, suspend the heat source from the ceiling several inches from the ground using a chain. This will help prevent any fire outbreak just in case they may get too hot.
Have several heating sources or a heated chicken coop to ensure that warmth is spread uniformly. Place thermometers away from the heat source to get the actual brooder temperatures.
So how do you tell whether your chick breeds are cold or hot inside the brooder?
- When it is too hot, chicks will chirp very loud expressing distress. They will drink a lot trying to cool their fluffy bodies and they will try to stay away from the heat source.
- If the temperatures are cold for your chicks, they will hurdle together in one corner or under the heat source.
When you notice the above behavior, you better check them out and do what is expected of you to ensure they are comfortable.
Hunger will make chicks chirp
Food is very basic for chicks and failure to feed them they will starve to death. However, for the first 48 hours after hatching, baby chickens do not need food but water only.
Ensure that you have multiple chicken feeders for you little birds. If they find it hard to locate food, help them by placing colored marbles and chick toys in the feeders.
Remember that chicks need to be fed strictly on chick starter feeds. They contain high amount of protein as recommended.
Avoid spoilt feeds with molds or any other form of contamination. Baby chicks are very sensitive and this may cause sickness or death. Additionally, do not feed treats to chicks at all. You may be tempted to toss those dried mealworms but don’t until these little buddies are six weeks old.
The reason chicks should not eat treats is because their digestive systems are not well developed to digest these foods.
Chicks chirp when thirsty
Thirst is another reason that will make chicks chirp loud. Lack of water can dehydrate their small bodies to death very easily.
Provide plenty of clean drinking water in chick waterers. It is good if you dip their beaks in water first to make them know where to drink from.
The height of the waterer for chicks is very important. This will ensure that chick poop does not get in their drinking water contaminating it.
Avoid using open bowls to prevent these little birds from drowning. If you intend to use these bowls, put rocks inside to act as islands where chicks can step on when drinking.
Check the waterers for chicks and clean them regularly. This will help prevent algae build up which can contaminate their drinking water.
Additionally, change the water and replace it with fresh if you notice beddings, chick poop or any other foreign material in it.
Discomfort is another factor that can make chicks chirp. This may cause stress, fear and anxiety to these baby chicks.
There are several factors that can cause discomfort in chicks like;
There are a number of predators that hunt chicks for food. They include snakes, possums, hawks, owls and other birds of prey.
A predator inside a chick brooder will frighten the chicks and they will chirp signaling danger. This will happen as they run around for safety.
Roofs leaking will make chicks get cold and fuss. They will chirp calling out because they are not comfortable.
Leaking roofs will wet the chicken bedding making it cold for these little critters. If the leak is not fixed, the beddings will become dump which can cause respiratory issues.
When lost or separated with their mother
Chicks are sometimes get lost when they sneak out of the brooder. When they try to get back, they are unable to trace their way back.
This will make them chirp trying to call other chicks. Chirping in chicks may also happen when they are accidentally separated from the mother hen.
Sometimes, a curious chick may stray several meters from the mother trying to explore. During this process, the mother hen together with the other brood proceeds leaving behind one of them.
After realizing that she is alone, the lonely baby bird will chirp out loud calling the mom. Sometimes, the little chicks will walk in long grass and accidentally a foot gets stuck.
This scenario makes chicks chirp calling on anyone to rescue. If not saved on time the chick will either die of hunger or became free lunch for a predator.
Expressing happiness and comfort
When expressing happiness and comfort, chicks will chirp. Happy chicks chirp in a soft and different sound from that sound they produce expressing distress.
This is very common when the brooder temperatures are good, when not hungry, when their immune systems are good and when not lonely.
When sick, chicks chirp
Chick chirping is very common when the bird is sick. This will happen because the little birds are in pain and probably hungry because they cannot eat well.
Chicks are prone to Coccidiosis a condition that affects their intestines. This is often caused by feeds and is the common threat to these little chooks.
Pasted butts is another serious threat. Sometimes they will have diarrhea and the poop around the butts dries, hardening and causing blockage.
These little feathered friends will chirp for help trying to get your attention. When they chirp, you better watch out.
What causes chicks chirping in egg?
Eggs don’t chirp but baby chicks chirp inside egg shells. It is true that chicks will start to chirp at 19-21 days in the egg before hatching.
This happens as a sign that the baby chickens are ready to hatch. You cannot hear it with your ears but the mother hen can.
These unhatched chicks will chirp when tired to tell the mother hen it is time to turn the eggs. Additionally, they will also chirp when there is no enough warmth and need to be well covered.
Chicks’ chirping in eggs is a very good indicator that the eggs were fertile and will soon hatch. It is also a sign that the eggs got enough warmth required for hatching.
The chirping may vary between eggs of different chicken breeds and health condition of the chicks. Quiet eggs are a bad sign and tell you that the eggs are not good or the chick has a health problem.
Why are my baby chicks chirping at night?
It is common for chicks to chirp at night. This happens mostly because temperatures drop at night and it gets cold than the day.
Always ensure your heating sources are properly working to keep these little fluffy balls warm. Also, they will chirp if the lights go off and they remain in the dark.
This is very common to those chicks used to long hours of light. It also becomes very common when you start reducing the time they get light at night until they get used.
Another reason that will make chicks chirp at night is when they stray away from the mother hen. They will also chirp out of fear at night when there is a predator lurking nearby.
Final Thoughts on why chicks chirp
Chicks communicate through chirping and will never do it for nothing. It is always good to be close to them especially for the first few weeks after hatching.
Chirping may be a bad sign which means danger and when left unattended, the results may be fatal. Listen to these little critters and be near them always.
It is fun to raise chickens from chicks and it is good to have a chick as pet. Chicks grow into chickens and chickens hatch chicks and the cycle continues.
Happy chick raising!