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Question about a failure to thrive chick

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

A week ago I received my order of 16 chicks via USPS from the hatchery.  As soon as I got them home and settled it was pretty obvious that two of the little girls were much weaker than the rest of the flock.  Sadly, the weakest of the two weaklings died on day three.  The other little one is still alive and doesn't appear to be in any kind of distress, but definitely, failing to thrive (not gaining weight,  barely eats or drinks on it's own and mostly just lays under the heat lamp).  Currently,  I'm dropper feeding her a mixture of soupy hard boiled eggs mixed with their water mixture which consists of SAV A CHICK probiotics and electrolytes with a little unfiltered apple cider vinegar added in, but nothing I'm doing now or up to this point seems to be helping much.  All of the other chicks are growing  well and thriving and there are no signs of sickness or infection in the flock.


So my question is, do chicks that appear to not be thriving ever make a comeback? Is there a point at which I would be better off just letting nature take it's course and stop intervening by trying to nurse her back to health? 


Ugh, just when I think that I've read, researched and prepared for every possible chicken curveball that can be thrown at me, I get one that makes me question whether I'm, actually, doing more harm than good at this point. 


Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated!

post #2 of 14

From personal experience I can say that if you are beyond 4 days and the little one is not making much if any effort, then it's likely not going to make it.  We hatched out several hundred chicks this year.   It seemed like every other hatch there was that one or two chicks that just wouldn't thrive.  You could see a distinct difference in their size compared to their broodmates & fellow hatchlings after just 4 or 5 days.  By the end of the first week they were still hatchling size and their siblings were off and running & much bigger.  Food & water was not the issue, nor disease or infection.   It sounds harsh, but I ended up culling those few individuals.  To put my mind at ease I dissected them.  I found that in most cases, they had some sort of internal deformity.  From livers hat looked odd to intestinal issues- one of them was born with only a partial lung.   In every case there was a distinct reason those little ones were not doing well.   It can't hurt to try and help them, but you may be fighting a short-straw-scenario.

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Wow, thank you for the quick and thoughtful reply, vonrow.  Your description sounds, exactly, like what we've got going on.  She isn't growing and, likely, just about the same size as she was when she came.  Meanwhile, her flock mates appear to have doubled in size in the week since they got here.  


I hated to lose the first chick in the batch, and I have kind of a soft spot for this little girl, but at least I get a idea of what the likely outcome will be.  Thank you for your input.

post #4 of 14
I currently have a squirt chick. It's still ablout the same size as it was when I got it while the other one of the same breed has doibled in size and has a bunch of sub adult feathers coming in. Squirt aka Dory barely had sub adult wing feathers coming in. She eats like a horse though let me tell you what. While the others play she just lolly gags around doing her own thing mostly eating and totally clueless lol
post #5 of 14

I agree with vonrow;  some babies just can't make it.  Smaller but active and eating is fine, but down and out isn't.  Have you called the hatchery?  They might be willing to adjust the bill or credit for next year.  Mary

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you, Mary.  I haven't called the hatchery yet.  Since this was my first time to mail order chicks, I wasn't sure if it was normal to expect two sickies in the batch.  I think I'll contact them tomorrow just to see what they say.   The chicks are from McMurray and I know that they have a good reputation in the industry.

post #7 of 14
Thanks for the info.

My chicks are day 6 and one, a Plymouth Rock, is smaller and doesn't have any feathers, the others have heaps on their wings already and tail feathers are starting. The rock is eating well, seems to be almost as active. Starting to have trouble keeping up however as the others look like they will be flying in a few more days and rock can only flap little, fluffy, featherless wings.

Anyway at what point do I really worry.
post #8 of 14

If it's eating, drinking, and running around and overall looking "good"  then things don't sound bad.  Some breeds develop faster/slower than others.  We had one case this spring where one particular chick (one of mystery chicks from the hatchery)  just never ever ever got "as big" as the rest of her broodmates.  At over a month old we still had her in the same brooder as the 2 week old chicks, hatch after hatch after hatch.  Thought for sure she was gunna keel over, but she eventually feathered out and whaddaya know??   The silly thing was a bantam!  She's still pint sized, but perfectly healthy.  (she turned out to be all black with a green sheen on the feathers -feathers, feet, skin, beak & eyes -all black as spades.  looks like a raven, but smaller)

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi hoder,


I don't have a lot of experience with this (only the two chicks in my original post) as all of our previous chicks came from the feed store and were full of energy and pep from the day we brought them home. 


Sadly, the second little chick did end up dying even with our efforts to help it pull through. As someone else mentioned above, I believe there was, likely, something physically wrong with both of them from the start and nothing we could have done would have changed the outcome.


I wouldn't worry about your little chick too much if it is eating, drinking and shows no obvious signs of illness.  Our two were noticeably sickly and weak in comparison to the rest of the flock from day one.  They wouldn't eat or drink, rarely got up or walked around and didn't appear to grow at all from the day we received them. 


There's no doubt that is was sad to lose the two babies, but one thing that I had to acknowledge was that worrying about it wouldn't have changed the outcome and sometimes, nature just has to take it's course no matter how much I try to "fix" the problem.


Best of luck with your new flock!

post #10 of 14

Thanks, thought I would try and get on top of it early if I could to try and help Rock (very creative name) along. Rock is a favorite, along with our araucana called "duck", so our fingers are crossed she (yes hoping for that too!) makes it.

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