Day old chicks should be fed a 28% game bird protein starter for 6-8 weeks. (I use ice cream lids for one week, then switch to 11 lbs. hanging feeders.) Then, reduce it to 21% game bird grower till 16 weeks. Finish with whole grain and weed seed (milo, corn).
Water for day old should be in gravity fed container with rocks or marbles in holding area, so chicks don't drown themselves. After one week, I advance to nipple drinkers which simulates dew on the morning grass.
Getting your room ready prior to the arrival of the chicks is important. Clean bedding - use straw not wood shavings. Have your red heat lamp bulbs set at the right height so the temperature reads 98 degrees 2" off the straw. Have food and water ready. No square corners to pile up in. Round chick guards work well.
Cannibalism usually occurs with overcrowding... too many birds per sq. ft. of area. To help counter this, blinders or peepers will help this condition. They should be put on at 5 weeks till release.
Getting your property ready for started birds or adult birds includes, planting food plots such as milo, which is a good cover crop through our fall and winter. It is also an excellent food source. Your local Pheasants Forever chapter should help you with the seed and planting. Discing up a strip of CRP ground in the spring will grow various weeds which birds need. This should help keep your birds on your property, and also pull in any others. Eliminating predators is also a key factor. Trapping is an excellent way to get rid of these nest busters. Remember: Every egg counts, and will give high-end rewards for your property in the long run.
Releasing your birds at night seems to work the best as they have less tendency to fly as far.
Whether young or old, upland bird hunting is not yet ready to become part of Iowa's history. It still brings out a smile and a memorable experience. And, there's nothing better than walking behind a good dog.
Thanks, again, Randy for the knowledge and experience from one of the best outdoorsman and dog trainer I know. And, a tip from me... don't forget to put in a shell.
Randy Woolum (www.foreverspringkennels.com)