We are first time chicken owners. We bought 5 baby chicks, they are about a week old from a local seller on Saturday. We set them up in our homemade brooder (see pic #1, but we also had the heat lamp, food and water in it as well). We were worried that the chicks didn't have enough room to get away from the heat if it was too much so we made a bigger setup (see pic #2 and 3). We got the the red 2500 watt bulb since all of our light bulbs at home are the energy efficient kind. We fed them organic feed and gave them a mix of sav-a-chick electrolyte and probiotic in a shallow dish in addition to their normal water supply.
Then yesterday one of our chicks started to act very differently. She wouldn't stand anymore. Only wanted to sit on her haunches or lay down. No signs of splayed leg, any feet or leg abnormalities, really no abnormalities of any kind that we could see, no pasty butt, etc. This morning she slowly passed away (see pic #4). We were really concerned so we talked to the guy who sold us the chicks, he said all of his other 30+ chicks were doing just fine. His first guess was that our brooder was too cold because it didn't have a wooden lid. So we put wooden planks on top (see pic #5). Then we found another chick dead (she had been happy and healthy less than an hour before). Within another few hours we would have another one die as well. So now there are only two left.
We are at our wits end trying to figure out what happened/is happening. Could we have killed them by having the brooder too cold? Our thermometer had said that it was consistently around 95 degrees in the warm section of the brooder (although the feed store guy today told us to move the thermometer to the middle and not under the lamp) so maybe it was cooler than we thought? We did move it down to 90 degrees yesterday because that was their one week point and we had been told to move it down 5 degrees each week. They didn't show signs of being too cold (ie: huddled together, staying under the light for long periods of time). We also found out that the guy who sold the chicks to us used medicated starter feed and we were using organic chick starter feed. Could that be the reason? Throughout this whole process everyone was eating and drinking just fine. Poop seemed to be normal. I noticed one diarrhea-type poop from someone but didn't see any blood.
Our other chicks are doing well and are in good spirits. We're going to talk to the guy tomorrow. He may replace them he may not, I'm not sure. But at this point we're also scared if we bring home three new chicks we'll kill them too . We went out and got medicated feed and moved our two little champions over to that tonight. We also added an electrolyte/vitamin/probiotic supplement that was recommended by the feed store guy today. The chicks weren't vaccinated for anything but I know Merrick's doesn't show up until later...
Sorry to be so long winded but I wanted to make sure I included everything I could think of. Any help, advice, or insight would be GREATLY appreciated. And thanks to those of you out there who read these type of posts and help out newcomers like me.