I live in Northern Virginia and our temperatures have been really chilly for the last month. No frosts but the nights are still too cold for tender things.
For my first chick experience, I made my brooder out of a 45 gallon storage container with the heat lamp, and put that inside a big wire great dane dog cage (I have 2 big labs who would LOVE to love chicks!) Nice and safe and warm.
I got first 8 chicks (2 Australorps, 2 Salmon Faverolles, 2 Barred Rocks, 2 Blue Andalusians) on April 10 from MPC and 1 Barred Rock was DOA. One of the Blue Andalusians had a broken leg and died within 24 hours. I ordered 4 more chicks (2 Buff Brahmas, 1 Light Brown Leghorn, 1 Salmon Faverolles Rooster) which arrived on April 24.
The older chicks were moved out to the barn into their new coop with a heat lamp 5 days ago. My surviving little Blue Andalusian hen got her toe caught joint in the coop floor and I found her dead within an hour of moving them.
I moved the 4 new babies out to the coop 2 days ago, to the enclosed top section, with their own heat lamp. Since it is enclosed although drafty, the chicks always seem to be comfortable. Of these 4 chicks, I've had 2 with chronic pasty butt and I remain vigilant with them.
Last night one of the Salmon Faverolles hens slept off to herself, away from the other birds and I found her dead this morning. Could she have just died in her sleep by not being warm enough?
I have now gotten to the point where I am checking the chickens every 15 minutes and I am wondering how many more will die before they are mature enough to hold their own.
Do chickens just keel over and die for no reason?