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5 week chick very small, lethargic "failure to thrive"?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi, my son just got his first batch of chicks 3 weeks ago.  They are 5 weeks old now.  2 australorps, 2 Sussex, 2 Plymouth Rocks.  They are all doing great, running around, getting feathered, growing: except one of the sussex has only grown about half as big as the others.  She is eating, but mostly now she sleeps all day.  She looks cold, but she doesn't want to stay close to the heat lamp (she has plenty of space to move away from it, so maybe she's just miserable.  Is there anything I can do for her?  (I am not paying for a vet).  She does not appear to get picked on by the others.


The hatchery vaccinates all for coccidia, plus I had them vaccinated for Mareks and the two other vaccines which I don't remember the names of right now.


I am feeding them chick starter.  I added a container of grit today, but none of the chicks have bothered with the grit.


Should I add eggs, or electrolytes ? Do they actually help in this case.  How do I tell if her crop is ok?



post #2 of 16

Welcome to BYC. I would double check with the hatchery about the coccidiosis vaccine. There are 9 or more strains of coccidia, and the vaccine depending on the manufacturer, contains 4-5 of the more serious strains. I don't know if she still could have cocci, or if she is just weak, or has some underlying disease or internal organ problem. I would give her as much electrolyte water as she will take for the next 24 hours, and either dip her beak, raise a small cup to her beak, or give it with a dropper. I would also consider treating her only with Corid (amprollium,) in case she has cocci. You could get the liquid Corid and give her a few drops every day of the undiluted Corid, or fence her off from the rest to treat with Corid in her water. Cocci causes lethargy, hunching, diarrhea or blood in the droppings, and refusal to eat and drink. I can give the dosage of either liquid or powder Corid if you need it. 

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I am giving her electrolytes and she drank quite a bit. She seems to be breathing with her beak open some of the time and sometimes makes a noise breathing but not all the time. She just pooped and it looks normal - would coccidiosis cause blood in poop all the time?
post #4 of 16
Coccidiosis causes blood in a couple of the strains, and in some it is just diarrhea. I would just keep offering the water with electrolytes and watching her. She may just be a little weak, and need some extra TLC.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice.  I gave her electrolytes regularly for about 24 hours, and she seemed to gain a little energy each time I gave it to her.  She would sometimes even eat a little after I gave her electrolytes, and she started walking around again.  Then today I gave her a part of a drop of Nutri-Drench with her electrolytes.  She's still sleeping a lot, but now she opens her eyes when I pick her up, runs around a bit with the other chicks, and is eating a lot of chicken feed.  So I am quite hopeful now that she is going to live.  She must have been too weak to eat food and water and was in a downward spiral.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Sad news on this front. The little chick seemed to recover, and was even running around happily for a few days, eating, etc and then she relapsed and died.  The second time, giving her electrolytes did not help at all.  She was struggling to breathe at the end, and maybe had a small amount of mucous around her beak.  The chicks must be about 7 weeks old now.


Now, another chick in the group is sitting huddled with her eyes closed and mouth breathing intermittently.  They all looked completely healthy last night.  I read a lot of posts here about gapeworm, and I did open this chicks mouth and look in, but couldn't see anything that looked like a worm.  So I am not sure if I should assume respiratory, or assume gapeworm.  I can get some meds from Tractor Supply.  My son was so upset about his little chick dying last night, I'd like to try to save this one - so - should I try to treat for respiratory, or gapeworm, or both?

post #7 of 16

Is there diarrhea or blood in the stools? I realize they were supposed to have the coccidiosis vaccine, but I would be tempted to either start her on Corid (amprollium) or take some of her droppings into your regular vet just to get a fecal test for cocci. Huddling is a sign of cocci or chilling.

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ok I got the corid powder. 20% soluble powder. Had to buy a calf size pack! What dose do I give her?
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

How do they die from coccidia?  Will they have respiratory symptoms?  I don't see anything wrong with the stools.  There was one stool that looked like it had blood (don't know which chicken it came from), but looking through "poop photos" it seems more like what they say is intestinal lining coming off (still doesn't sound good to me).  but my major query about it being coccidia is whether that would give respiratory symptoms, because the dead and sick one both were mouth breathing.  


Also, when I held her to give her the corid she was vibrating - is that from cold?  I don't think they are afraid - they have been handled extensively.

post #10 of 16

The dosage of Corid is 2 tsp of the liquid, or 1.5 tsp of the powder, per gallon of water for 5 days. Divide that by 4 if using a quart waterer. The vibrating may be shivering, I suppose. Make sure she is warm enough. If a chick is very ill, it probably wouldn't be usual to have gasping which could be the mouth breathing. I'm not sure that your chick has coccidia, but it is the most common disease at this age. Plus, Corid is a very safe drug, and not an antibiotic. Hopefully this is not a respiratory problem. Have you seen any nasal drainage or watery/foamy eyes?

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