Are you experienced at hatching or not? Are you experienced with Seramas, in particular? What type of incubator do you have? These and other questions are all important.
First things first, we recommend having an incubator that has circulated air and to have at least one after market thermometer and hygrometer to put inside your incubator to help assure accuracy. Seramas that are incubated have a hatch rate of about 40% to 60%.
Day 1 through day 17, we run at 99.9 degrees with 50% humidity. On day 17 1/2, the eggs go on lockdown (no more turning) and the temperature remains 99.9 degrees and the humidity should be bumped to 60% to 65%. Usual hatch day for our Seramas is day 20 (day 21 is also common).
This is a basic lowdown of how to hatch eggs. Seramas can be a bit tricky to hatch.
Upon hatch, chicks should not be removed until totally fluffed up and preferably not until all the chicks have hatched. The yolk in their bellies is feeding them and keeping them alive at this point. Each hatch is a little different and may require extra involvement. But, normally within 24 hours or so, the chicks can be removed and placed in a ready to go cozy brooder.
We use fine ground up crumbled medicated chick feed for the first 4 weeks (you do not need to use medicated, whatever you prefer). We are in a very humid climate and coccidiosis is a fact of life here in Florida. We prevent when we can.
Water in a very shallow dish to make sure they do not accidentally drown. Water is normally changed several times a day, especially in the beginning.
Rule of thumb:
week 1: 95 degrees,
week 2: 90 degrees,
week 3: 85 degrees,
week 4: 80 degrees,
week 5: 75 degrees
week 6: 70 degrees
This is a general idea.
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I keep my Serama chicks with only Serama chicks. Large fowl chicks tower over them and even bantam breed chicks are too boisterous and bigger as well. Trampling and smothering can easily happen. Any bantam breed chick is larger and poses a risk of tragedy for your Serama chicks. I keep my Seramas chicks in their very own, separate-from-all-other-breeds brooder.
I use a rabbit/guinea pig style cage as my brooder.
I typically use paper towels in a double layer laid flat for their bedding. I use a heat plate. I adjust the height little by little as they grow. I start with the heat plate very low to the ground. Chicks like to lay flat. That first week is crucial to keep the heat 95 degrees or very close to it. Place an aftermarket thermometer under your heat plate. Check on your chicks frequently!I typically use paper towels in a double layer laid flat for their bedding. I use a heat plate. I adjust the height little by little as they grow. I start with the heat plate very low to the ground. Chicks like to lay flat. That first week is crucial to keep the heat 95 degrees or very close to it. Place an aftermarket thermometer under your heat plate. Check on your chicks frequently!
Rules of thumb:
Week 1: 95 degrees
Week 2: 90 degrees
Week 3: 85 degrees
Week 4: 80 degrees
Week 5: 75 degrees
Week 6: 70 degrees
Seramas are tropical. Malaysian. You may desire to stretch out one week at a time to 10 days at a time. Use your judgment. Watch your chicks behavior. Let that dictate how you adjust the height of your heat plate. Cold chicks will cheep over and over again. They'll all huddle together for warmth. Hot chicks won't go under that heat plate much. Examples, if the heat plate is too low, they'll cheep cheep outside of it and most likely huddle for warmth. Raise the height a bit on your heat plate.
You may need to really kind of watch and teach your day old chicks to go under the heat plate. They may come out to eat and drink and sort of lose their way back. Gently teach them that under the heat plate is where to go for warmth. I also place the heat plate in the corner of my cage so two sides are up against solid walls. That helps keep the heat 'in' under the plate.
Since I use open wired rabbit/guinea pig cages, I use towels to cover 3 to 3 1/2 of the sides and the entire top. I even double up the towel for added insulation. I want to keep it nice and warm for the chicks.
I have complete dark at night and cover (loosely) the 4th side also with a sheet or towel as well. Uncovering that 1 side (or 1/2 of that side depending on your chosen setup) during the day and ensuring they have adequate lighting to see in order to come out from under the heat plate to eat and drink.
I feed medicated chick feed crumble fine ground up (with a coffee grinder) for the first 4 weeks of their lives (minimum). Sometimes I grind their feed longer than 4 weeks. It depends on the sizes of the baby chicks. If the feed is too big, they may not eat at all or they may choke.
Either way, it ends up tragic. I don't rush into feeding non-ground crumbles. It isn't worth the chance in losing a chick. Sometimes I grind their feed for a couple months. I usually will grind enough to fill up a gallon Ziploc bag at a time (for my convenience).
I place a shallow dish, a flan dish with low edges works great, in their brooder very close if not partially under an edge of their heat plate. I want them to eat. I also place ground food all around and under the perimeter of most of their heat plate. Place it directly on the paper towels. Again, I want them to eat. They must eat. I do not worry about wasting feed with my chicks. Ever. I use my finger to touch and kind of scratch the food to show them (like a mama hen) that's what you eat. Make sure each chick is eating. Observe them. use my finger to touch and kind of scratch the food to show them (like a mama hen) that's what you eat. Make sure each chick is eating. Observe them.
I also use a shallow dish, usually a low edge flan dish, (with a couple small stones in it) as my water dish. I do also place it very near the heat plate and patiently 'teach' each chick to drink by putting my finger in the water and coaxing them verbally and also so they can see the drops of water drip from my finger and see it ripple in the dish.
It is important that you make sure each and every chick is eating and drinking. The water dish will need fresh, clean, high quality water. Mine get changed SEVERAL times a DAY, especially in the first week or so.
As the chicks get bigger and grow, I remove the stones one at a time. The stones are there so they do not drown. Be careful not to use too small of a stone that they'll slip and fall.
You can do and use whatever you wish and feel comfortable with your water dish. Just make sure the placement is where they can reach it and that they cannot fall in and drown or get soaking wet. I cannot express the importance of fresh, clean water enough.
I do not add anything to their water the first few weeks of their lives. Just, fresh, clean, high quality water changed a lot.
At the second week or so, the food and water dish can be moved a little bit further from the heat plate. I do not rush anything with my Serama baby chicks. Use caution and patience when changing and tweaking the brooder environment.
The paper towels bedding gets changed as it needs.I do not adhere to a specific cleaning schedule with my chicks I do keep it very clean for them. Sometimes changing the towels out more than once daily. They are tiny, fragile and developing their immune systems. They are susceptible to a lot of bad things those first several days and weeks of life. Around 4 to 6 weeks old, I switch to pine shavings. I do use fine pine shavings.
It is my privilege to help others with their Seramas. Whether or not you have a Diamond Seramas, please reach out with questions. I have assisted saving many, many chicks during these first precious days and weeks across the country. Though not a doctor, I will help advise as best as I can to save a Serama chick's life.
James 3:7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species.