Originally Posted by Siggie
Thank you to those offering condolences for the loss of my two chicks last night. I can now say with confidence, I think I know what happened and I will share what NOT to do when using the mama heating pad cave technique.
this is how I had the little cave last night. On a diagonal in the corner. It got down to 38 degrees and I checked a dozen times last night and all chicks were under the cave. But then when I got up at 6:15 am I had two dead chicks laying BEHIND the cave in the corner. I believe they both got accidentally shoved out the back of the cave and could not find their way back in. So my advice from learning the hard way...... put your mama heating pad cave up against the back wall or shoved in the corner. (I rearranged and put it in the corner so two of the sides are up against a wall) and make sure that all sides are secure so the little chirps can't slip out and freeze. I guess part of the issue is I didn't use bent wire like the original design. I had a wire basket and I attached little legs to it, larger in front and lower in back and I can just add PVC pieces as the chicks get bigger. So there is a small gap between the floor and the basket....well not anymore! I have pine shavings piled up around it now and nobody is slipping out anywhere!!
It was a heartbreaking lesson for me to learn. I am just so thankful that I didn't lose more!
Thank you for sharing that. I know it was hard. I always set mine up so that the towel is larger than the frame of the pad. Then it drapes down in the back all the way to the floor, folded outward against the back of the brooder. The sides are tucked underneath the sides of the frame, sort of like backwards wings. These little stinkers are very good about finding ways to escape, but very bad at how to find their way back. I am so glad that you have resolved the issue.
I almost lost a chick the first day we had them outside. She got out and was running all over the run with the big girls, and thankfully they didn't bother her. Tried to figure out how she got out of the brooder and just couldn't! Ken and I went back out a couple of hours later and she was out again. But this time we found the gap. Caught the little stinker and put her back in. Barely a big enough space for an ant, but that's all it took. Ken double checked to make sure all were accounted for, and found one dead between the dust bath bin and the side of the run. He handed it to me (I was still standing inside the brooder pen) and I laid that cold, stiff little body up on the shelf while we fixed the gap. Her legs were extended behind her, neck was extended, she was ice cold, stiff, and her eyes were closed. She laid up there for about 10 minutes while we worked, then I picked her up and started wrapping her in a plastic grocery sack for the outside trash can. There were absolutely no life signs at all.
But I thought I saw her mouth move just the slightest bit. I wasn't even sure - I thought it was just a movement that I made while none-too-gently wrapping her up. But it was enough. Ran her inside and put her in the incubator with the eggs I had in there until we could get the other heating pad set up. The first photo shows her in the incubator. I had to try to tuck her legs up under her so she'd fit. The videos will tell you what happened next.
Stiff and cold.
I didn't think Ken heard her squeak...I hollered at the poor guy as he was coming down the hallway!
At this point I was pretty sure that this little Explorer was going to be okay.
Didn't have to figure out what to do with him all night after all - a little over 2 hours from finding him he was back outside with the others, under Mama Heating Pad and none the worse for his near-death experience. This is twice we have done this - the first time was a little chick named Scout who was hatched under a broody and got out from under her just hours later. Found him just like we found this little one, with the same result. Just 2 hours after warming him up and giving him some sugar water, he was back outside reunited with his mom.
I've sure learned never to believe these tough little critters are dead just because they look like it. I can't tell which one of the 3 little White Orpington chicks out there is the one we threw into the incubator unless I look hard at the wings. They can find more ways to kill themselves, yet come back from the brink sometimes. Silly little chickens! So I always have an emergency backup for warming them quickly, and give them sugar water and Nutri-drench as soon as they start waking up.
BTW, talk about coming back from the brink - Scout's story can be found by clicking the link in my signature - Frostbitten Feet, the Adventures of Scout.