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Help for a Teacher

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I am a K-2 teacher. I have raised chickens in the classroom twice before. This time, despite following the directions here and elsewhere, it's been a very trying experience. We got no chicks from our first batch of eggs (possibly not fertile).  


Of the second batch of eggs (12), we only got two chicks. (I have an older still-air incubator, the control rod was loose, and the kids accidentally bumped it before I got in, and we had 105 deg. temps for too long. :-( )  One chick was born last Thursday (4/14) and the second was born last Friday (4/15).

Of the two chicks, one was very healthy. The other, when born, couldn't walk. It sort of shambled along on its stomach.  I kept expecting it to get better, but it actually got worse when I put it in the brooder with the older chick. It was "pigeon-toed" and kept stepping on itself and falling. It didn't help that the older chick pestered it all the time, and the younger chick really wanted to get away. I came in and found it on its back and stuck there. I figured it was going to die. :-(


So, I brought the younger chick home and put it in a shoebox in my bathroom with my heating lamps on and a terrycloth covered heating pad. I gave it vitamins in its water. 


Then, because the older chick was lonely, I got it another chick from Wilco about the same age and took it to school. 


The younger chick is SO much better. It can stand. It can walk (although, it mostly runs now, and then falls when it bumps into something.) I wouldn't say it's normal yet, but it is a lot better. 


This chick is a different breed than the first, and it is much smaller, in addition to being (a now) recovering invalid. I have watched it drink many times, but have yet to see it eat. (This is day 4, so it needs to start eating.) 


Since it is better (but, again, half the size). Should I take it back to school with a strict "hands off" rule so that it can be with other chicks? I know they are social creatures, and I worry that it won't learn how to eat without watching the other chicks. Yet, I also worry that it is not fully recovered, and that its size and all will make it an object to be picked on. Plus, I can't be there (at school) at night to check on it if it gets in trouble. 


My school is also 45 minutes away. So, the drive is stressful, even though I suffered on the way home and turned the heat all the way up. Also, we go on vacation this week, and so all the chicks are coming home Wednesday night. But, can this chick wait that long?


So, should it go to school or should it stay in my bathroom? Which is worse: to be picked on and possibly get in trouble without easy access to help, or to be lonely and not learn chicken social norms? Will it die just from being alone? 


I feel very stressed about all this. And, the last thing I need is for the children to walk into the room in the morning to a dead chick. :-(


Help? Suggestions? (BTW, if I ever do this again, I *will* purchase a new, self-regulating incubator. This process has almost driven this animal lover crazy this time.)

post #2 of 6
I would wait to make sure that it eats. It is still probably surviving on the nutrients it had from the egg. Maybe give it a small teddy bear or something. (Not directly under the heat lamp)

You need to make sure it is eating. I know it sounds rough, but you need to make sure that it's head goes into the food (possibly by pushing it hmm.png), and then you need to act like a mama hen might. 'Peck' at the food with your finger while making clucking sounds. You can look up a 'mama hen teaching her chicks to eat' video on YouTube. Do what the mother hen would do. Drop a little food in front of the chick and 'peck' it. If it still won't eat, try to feed it some hard boiled egg yolk

After it eats, when the other chicks get home, make sure the brooder is big enough that the other chicks have other things to do than peck. Maybe hot glue some Popsicle sticks together and make a perch.

You can play the radio with soothing music for The chick in the meantime, and just spend a little extra time with it.

Try this to help its legs:

Good luck!
Edited by peopleRanimals2 - 4/18/16 at 10:21am
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

First of all, thank you for the help. 


I have tried to poke its beak into the food with no luck. I am going to go and make it some hard-boiled yolk next. 


Unfortunately, while much better, it still sits mostly on its haunches rather than standing like a chick should. (I've been watching the chicks at school all day, so I'd have a better comparison.) It *can* stand upright now, but chooses not to most of the time. When I help it and make it "train," it acts as if (maybe) one leg is a bit sore, although it just pulls it up. It doesn't yell or anything. 


It also doesn't scratch yet, or peck at things. For awhile, I wondered if its mouth even could open. It makes all of its sounds without opening the mouth at all. 


OTOH, it actually seems as if its starting to like being held and "preened" by me. It's really going to make me sad if this little things passes. :-(


It still has some dried egg goo on it from hatching. Since it is near its behind, should I soak that off with warm water? 



post #4 of 6
How old is this chick? chicks usually don't open their mouths to make normal cheeping sounds. (not the "Put me down now!" Sounds). For the egg goo, it is a good idea to take a Q tip dipped in warm water, and gently remove any residue on its fuzz. It would help if you could post a picture of how the chick is sitting most of the time. If you are touching its legs, trying to make it stand, it will naturally pick up its legs. Did it eat the egg? If you put in a stuffed animal, it will give the chick something to explore, be interested in, cuddle up to, and peck at. One of my chicks had splayed leg, and it pretty much just ate, drank, and slept. When I put in a stuffed bear, it perched on it, was pecking at it, and it also decreased the pecking that that chick was doing at the others. I think a stuffed animal would help, even if you only had it in the brooder while you were there. I can't help you with the fact that it doesn't want to stand, but it would help if you posted a picture of its legs. I hope this helps, and good luck with your chick!
Edited by peopleRanimals2 - 4/19/16 at 3:30am
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Unfortunately, the little chick passed away this morning. It was doing so much better ... and then it wasn't. :-(


I do appreciate the help. It made me feel as if I were doing what I could. 

post #6 of 6
Aww. RIP. At least it was happy and comfortable.
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