BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Raising BackYard Chickens › Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures › One week old chick died this morning now two more have died today. Please help :(
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One week old chick died this morning now two more have died today. Please help :(

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

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.  


Pic #1:



Pic #2:



Pic #3:



Pic #4:



Pic #5:


post #2 of 8

I think they got over heated. 2500 is way too hot. Most heat lamp are either 125 or 250. Also, I wouldn't put anything on top other than the wire. The wood you have one there doesn't allow the heat to escape, therefor, making it like an oven.  Next time I would suggest using a 125 watt bulb if you are housing them inside your home. Hope all is well with the remaining chicks.

Edited by romien - 4/6/16 at 6:47am
post #3 of 8
I assume that you mean that you are using 250 watt bulbs, not 2500. Do you have an inexpensive thermometer on the floor in the hottest spot of the brooder, which can tell if you need to raise the light to lower the temperature. A lot of baby chicks can die if they have been exposed to any stress in the first few days. Being too cold, not taking enough water, and pasty butt when droppings block the vent are some of the causes. I see baby chicks at the feed stores all the time kept in overcrowded brooder so with pasty butt, and not even being able to get to water or the water being filled with pine shavings. A lot of a chick's chances of survival depend on their first few days of care. Sorry for your loss.
Edited by Eggcessive - 4/6/16 at 7:03am
post #4 of 8

Along with what info has been provided, did you get your red heat lamp bulb from a pet or feed store?  If not, check the box to see if it's Teflon coated.  Teflon coated bulbs can be toxic to birds.  So sorry for your loss.



What if the Hokey Pokey Really is What it's All About






What if the Hokey Pokey Really is What it's All About



post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for your responses!!!  I checked the box again and it's a 250 watt bulb (not 2500), haha.  It's specifically made for animals (it has pictures of baby chicks on it) made by Little Giant.  We had the thermometer under the lamp but the guy at the feed store said that you shouldn't put the thermometer under the light part because it'll get too hot from direct exposure to the light and give a false temperature (that we should instead have it in the middle section).  That's why we got scared that maybe it was cooler in there that we thought and maybe we were keeping it at a cooler temperature than the thermometer stated.  But then I tried to think back over their behavior.  I thought the whole point of a hot side and a cooler side was so they could self regulate.  But if these chicks died of cold, wouldn't they have tried to huddle together or spend more time under the light?  Our chicks didn't do this. 


Current update:  The two chicks left seem to be doing well.  One had pasty butt this morning so I cleaned it.  They were NOT HAPPY when they were in the box alone without their friend which was sweet/heartbreaking to see.  They obviously are trying to stick together and survive.  


I will continue to read responses in case someone else might have some insight.  Again, thanks everyone.

post #6 of 8
Sorry I meant 250 watt bulbs, not 500 and corrected my post. I put my thermometer directly under the warmest part of the light, at least 18 inches away. Yes, cold chicks will usually huddle near the lamp. We hope that your other chicks survive, and I would get some more chicks quickly, so they can be the same age. It gets complicated trying to raise chicks of different ages, or to integrate chicks. Let us know how they get along.
Edited by Eggcessive - 4/6/16 at 4:40pm
post #7 of 8

I am so glad that the others are well. That is great news. I am also glad the lamp is a 250, but I do want to say that with the top of your brooder is covered with the wood, it still can get very warm and also if the 250 watt lamp is close to them. I think you might try a 125 watt, especially if they are in your house.  I use a 250 watt but mine are out in the garage. Here is what I use for my chicks. It is a shallow water tank  and it's plastic. It's about 4 foot long and about 15" deep. You can get it at Big R or tractor store or wherever they sell farm and ranch stuff. Craigslist might have them too.

I wish you all the best in your journey. <3

post #8 of 8

Covered, plastic storage tubs can get really warm. That light is too low, and the bulb may be too much. You only want one warm zone, directly under the light. If it's too warm to have a thermometer under the light, it's too warm for chicks. The rest of the brooder should be significantly cooler. If it's 95* under the heat, then the rest of the brooder should between 70 to 85. It's very difficult to manage those kinds of zones in plastic tubs using a heat lamp. 

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