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post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,

I just got 10 chicks on Saturday - dorkings, black langshans and Australorps. When we got home today and one of the dorkings died!!
They are in a starter pen (holds 15 chicks), I change their water two times a day, they're on organic starter feed.
This is our first time raising chickens. And already I feel like I'm doing it all wrong. The chicks are soo sketched out they won't come near us. They peck at the walls of the pen (it's coroplast, and they aren't even making marks in it)...I feel like they're bored... Can I give them a little romaine or broccoli to eat yet? They are 5 or 6 days old today.
I did check them for pasty butt already...
post #2 of 7
Hi , and no please don't feed them any thing ,but starter feed yet. Yes they are bored, but mine are also. I have 15 chicks . Mine are 4weeks old to this date. They will peck at the sides of their walls. Mine do this also. They are not bored really but pecking at New things to see if it tastes good. Also chicks are not pets at first. They don't trust at your age chicks. Or mine. You lost one ,not bad really. I've seen people lose all before. Keep doing right by heat, starter feed, clean water. Most will make big chickens. Good job.
post #3 of 7
Ask me any thing ill help you along. I've been there done that many times.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. I know it could be worse to lose more than 1... But it was a dorking, my favourite! And my 6 year old found it. She was pretty sad (but not as sad as her 4 yr old sister). Although I read a lot about raising chickens, there's a ton of info out there and its easy to get overwhelmed!

Here's a question for you: the heat lamp is about 13-14" above the chicks. They huddle together just off to the side of the direct heat. They're pretty quiet, so I assume they're happy? Thoughts?
post #5 of 7

First of all Welcome to the Chicken World! :D Did you have you your brooder set up before the chicks arrived? Are there any drafts that would be able to enter your chicks home? Depending on where you got them from you might be able to take the one that died back and get a refund or a replacement for it which if you decide to you want to get a couple new ones (don't just get one if you get a replacement for the one that died, chickens are flock animals) you might just want to keep an eye on any newbies that you add to the container I wouldn't chicks more than a week apart or so in hatch dates just to prevent them from getting picked on. When they are realitivly new they don't seem to notice if you sneak a couple extras or their hormones telling them they need to pick on them haven't set in yet providing they are near the same age. Have you tried adding a supplement to their water? Something like this:    I have also heard of people adding sugar to chicks water for the first couple days or so to give them a bit of an energy boost to start them out. As far as the one that died who knows you said you checked for Pasty Butt I am assuming they didn't have it? Pasty Butt can cause chicks to get backed up to the point in which it plugs their body up and they end up dieing because of not being able to illuminate. Really though chicks are the most vulnerable their first week of life (so if your gonna lose anybody it is most likely going to be the first week) especially going through the stress of being transported to wherever the store is they were shipped to, then the stress of each time chicks are chosen out of their container, and then also the ride home to their new homes. If humans are not present when the chicks first hatch they do not imprint on them so then they learn to be afraid just by their natural instincts, with time they will become less and less desensitized (to the point where they will come up to you and allow you to pick them up and they will lay effortlessly in your hand on their back but do NOT when they are real young hold them on their back nor be rough with them they are babies they have to learn to trust just like any cat or dog would) providing you work with them and expose them to human interactions. The more time you spend handling them more so when they are a little older the tamer they will be. You said you change you change their water two times a day, are you refilling it with room temperature water? Oh and as far as brooder temperatures go the brooder (place where you keep your chicks whether it be a card board box or cage) should be 90-95 degrees under the lamp. With that being said they should always have a "cool place" (a place where they can get away from the light) should they decide they want to. You can also tell if they are too hot or too cold by their body language. If they are too cold they will be huddled together chirping loudly underneath the heat lamp, if they are too hot they will be panting, have droopy looking wings, and will be along the perimeters and will try to get as far away from the light/heat source as possible. You will know if they are comfortable, they will be happily (softly/contently) chirping, pecking around, sun bathing, and will be mingling throughout the container. It's okay I am sure you are doing just fine.. Some birds just don't make it whether it be from too much stress, disease, you name it. The first time we raised chicks we were so scared we would do something wrong but we haven't lost anybody (chicks) for awhile now (this is my eighth year keeping chickens, sure I don't keep those breeds you listed but overall chickens are chickens they require about the same things). Keep in mind chicks are babies they peck at things to sample just like human babies they stick things in their mouths until they learn different. Don't be suprised if you see the chicks taste try other poo.. it is perfectly normal they are just learning what tastes good and what doesn't. Give them time they will be scratching around in no time our started scratching around quite a bit at around two to three weeks of age. As for not making marks in things think of it in human terms when baby humans are new to the world they aren't very strong which is why when chicks are given grass they can't break it off and eat it till they get a bit older and their get a bit stronger. I doubt lettuce or broccoli would hurt them any in the natural setting they hen would break things up for them so if you can break it into small enough pieces I wouldn't know why you couldn't try it. Hope this helps!! :) 

-Proud owner of: a Silver Phoenix, Ameraucanas, Rhode Island Reds, Mille Fleur D' Uccle Bantams, Crele Old English Game Bantams, a Silver Duckwing Old English Game Bantam, and a Golden Duckwing Old English Game Bantam
-Proud owner of: a Silver Phoenix, Ameraucanas, Rhode Island Reds, Mille Fleur D' Uccle Bantams, Crele Old English Game Bantams, a Silver Duckwing Old English Game Bantam, and a Golden Duckwing Old English Game Bantam
post #6 of 7
Sounds like you have the heat lamp just right. They need to be able to get off to the side if to hot. Keep doing this. Remember to adjust for every week of age. Good job.
post #7 of 7

I'm sorry you lost a chick. It's a stressful experience as well as a sad one when it happens, and it does happen to us all. But you need to try to assess why the chick died so you don't lose any more. It could simply be that chick had genetic problems and failed to thrive, but let's try to figure out if their brooder conditions are what they should be so hopefully you don't have to lose any more chicks.


You mention a "starter pen". Is this one of those pre-fab "starter kits" you buy at the feed store that includes accessories such as a heat lamp, water bottle and feed tray? If so, it may actually be too small even though it specified it was for more chicks than you have. Could you please tell us the dimensions of the brooder pen? If there isn't at least a square foot for each chick, it could be that over crowding is responsible for the death of the chick, either due to trampling or suffocation or it lacked the room necessary for it to find a cool-down space to shed excess body heat from being too close to the heat lamp and not being able to move away.


Depending on the actual size of your brooder, the heat lamp may be too low and is making the entire brooder too hot. If the heat bulb is 250 watts, if it's just a foot above the chicks, it is likely cooking them. Those very same lamps are used in restaurants to keep food piping hot when suspended above the food at that height.


That you mention your chicks are "huddled" off to the side of the lamp, it indicates the lamp may be much too low, and making that spot directly underneath too hot. It is also likely heating the entire brooder to a temperature that prevents your chicks from cooling down. The spot right under the lamp should read 85 to 95F. The rest of the brooder space should be twenty degrees cooler. If it's not, the brooder is too small.


Do you have any sort of covering over the brooder that would prevent heat from escaping? Is so, you need to remove it so the brooder doesn't act like an oven.


If you're new to brooding chicks, you will need to learn to read their behavior. Chicks that are happy and comfortable will be actively running all over the brooder, freely moving from warming up under the heat source and maybe even briefly sleeping under it, then waking and running about some more. You should see chicks flopping down all over the place and sleeping where they land, not just huddled in a bunch off to the sides. If they are huddled in a tight bunch, something is wrong.


Your chicks should be acting very lively, running about, but taking frequent naps. If you have a chick standing in one spot for too long, maybe nodding off while standing up, teetering off balance, with eyes at half mast, that chick is in trouble. If you have a chick prostrate and panting, that chick is in trouble. If you have several chicks producing very watery poop, you have a problem with an overheated brooder making them sick.


The first week can be make-or-break for chicks. They're fragile little creatures, but it really doesn't require too much to make their environment one where they will be comfortable and safe and will thrive.

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