10-week-old died without warning

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Prairie Orca, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. Prairie Orca

    Prairie Orca Out Of The Brooder

    I lost three of my 25 hatchery chicks in the first three days I had them - found one each morning. First a Buff Orpington, a Black Australorp, then a Delaware. It left me with three BOs, three BAs, three Delawares, four Barred Rocks, and nine Easter eggers. Two of the EEs have turned out to be a different breed (dark cornish?) due to a mix-up with the person I did a group hatchery order with, so I will be trading these two for my two wayward EEs in the near future.

    In the first week one of the EEs stopped using her right leg, so I brought her into the house (brooder was in heated, insulated garage with brooder lamp). Within a week the chick was walking and peeping like crazy. Mom named her Sissy. She was so adorable when we had her in the house - I'd take her out onto the rug, rub my fingers together, and she would come running, flapping her wings. She was the only chick that talked while eating. When I reintroduced her back with her broodmates (now in the coop in an area divided from the main area; said chick area is 7'x7') it took about ten minutes before they all accepted her (she would approach them, usually running and flapping her wings, and they would walk away).

    Within a week I could no longer tell which one she was, even when I rubbed my fingers together. Sometimes I would realize who she is because she would decide to come up to me and snuggle. Two days ago Sissy did that very thing - came up to me and snuggled, when it was near bedtime for them. I decided to take her outside for a few minutes (it was nice out, and the chicks haven't really been outside yet, but Sissy has been for a few short spurts because she is co-operative). My mom and my brother's fiancee sat in the grass with Sissy and I, and the chick went to Mom and snuggled her, and tried to get underneath her - typical Sissy [​IMG] . It was then I noticed that Sissy had a dark toenail on her left foot and all the rest looked light on both feet. For the most part Sissy just stood on the grass looking around, and soon enough I brought her back in with her fellow chicks and they all settled down for the night.

    Yesterday I ripped some grass from the ground under some trees and tore them up to bite-size pieces for the chicks. They went nuts for it! I had done this a few times before in the past few weeks to try and expose them, little by little, to make sure that their immune systems were as ready as possible when I would finally let them outside to free range.

    Today I walked into the coop to do the usual - make sure the chicks have fresh feed and water - but, after taking note that the three adults were in the coop and scratching the straw, I finally got in and my eyes were immediately drawn to a devastating sight. One of the Easter eggers was lying, belly-down, dead on the floor. I carefully picked up the chick, noting it was one of the girls (one or two of the EEs are boys), and saw a dark toenail on the left foot. My insides dropped with the weight of a bowling ball. I looked at her right foot, and I saw a few more dark toenails, and the one on the left foot looked to be on the wrong toe. I regained my composure, and thought maybe it was one of the other girls, but nonetheless I was devastated that I lost a chick. It wasn't Crooked-Toe/Krooketoe (her crooked toes became apparent far too late to be corrected, but she gets around fine), it wasn't any of the boys, so either it was Sissy or one of the three other girls.

    I removed the body and started looking at the three other girls. Clear toenails, clear toenails, clear toenails. I can't be sure because they look so much alike so I may have been picking up the same one each time. I'm hoping for my mother's sake that the deceased isn't Sissy, because Sissy was the first chicken Mom ever truly liked (and loved).

    Now I am left to wonder how the poor girl died. She did not feel emaciated, the crop felt fine, nothing felt broken, and the damage to the tail area looks post-mortem (feathers ripped out, some blood). I'm thinking it may have been a genetic condition, but I don't really know. [​IMG] Thoughts?
  2. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    I am really sorry about your loss. I know how horrible it is to have to lose a loved one. And I don't have any ideas either. But chickens can die from many things that may or may not be genetic. Birds are good at hiding illness and we never know sometimes when we will go out to one of our beloved chickens having passed away.

    Again, I am so sorry and maybe someone else will have some insight on this. [​IMG]
  3. Mommy 2 Wee Ones

    Mommy 2 Wee Ones Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 19, 2011
    North Texas
    I am so sorry for your loss, and I hope it is not Sissy.
  4. Nicole01

    Nicole01 Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 28, 2011
    I'm so sorry. [​IMG]
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    It is hard to say what they might die of. I have had some birds that were fine when I checked on them in the morning and found them dead later in the day and could not find anything physically noticeable when I checked them out. I thought maybe a heart attack as they were fine when I checked them in the mornings.
  6. ChicksterJo

    ChicksterJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 19, 2011
    Grounded on Earth
    I have not heard anything about black toenails related to sudden death. Perhaps someone else knowledgeable about that may come along but I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost a little pullet who was less than 10 weeks old, but she died suddenly...one minute she was dust bathing, the next she was gone. The pain never leaves but at least I have my memories of her. I hope that it is not Sissy but losing any of them like that can be devastating.
  7. Prairie Orca

    Prairie Orca Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you, everyone.

    I've been hoping and wishing I was just having a horrific nightmare, but it seems to not be the case.

    I couldn't sleep, and it's now early morning. I've tried to distract myself - internet, games, reading - but the grief, the image of that devastating scene, keeps creeping up on me and the ache in my stomach returns each time with the same unrelenting strength.

    Yesterday when I was checking on the chicks one more time before I closed up the coop, I crouched against the wall and waited. Chicks approached me, but none of the Easter eggers were there to snuggle, and all of them would shriek and/or struggle when I picked them up. So my beloved house chicken, my first and only chicken who genuinely enjoyed human company and affection, is gone.

    @ ChicksterJo: Sissy's toenails weren't really black, more of a brown. I think they were just some sort of genetic mutation or something, but I thought it was really neat, and I thought it was a great way to help me tell her apart from the others.

    Some pictures... didn't take a lot because the camera needs the flash to take half-decent photos.

    Six days old, inside the house. One of my favourite chicken pictures.

    Five and a half weeks. You can see a white feather on her wing, tucked in. This was before her beard and muffs grew in. All the Easter eggers have white on their wings, faces, and for some, a little on their chests.
  8. BoltonChicken

    BoltonChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    Bolton, Mississippi
    Prairie Orca,

    Don't beat yourself up about this. As a vet told me "Chickens, like sheep,are born looking for a way to die. The real miracle is that any of them live."
    I realize that you can get yourself wrapped up with little chicks because they are so cute and loveable, but you must know that not all of them are going
    to make it. This is the nature of life itself. The only way something cannot die is to never have been born.

    Keep the chin up. There are more Sissys out there.

  9. gd4sumthnmom

    gd4sumthnmom Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 27, 2011
    Northwest Montana
    I'm sorry to hear that. I cried all day when our 2nd one died. I was afraid that I killed it. Long story, but I have never had chicks before. I was told that with 20 chicks you can expect a couple to pass away. I am sorry for your loss.
  10. WendyGrama

    WendyGrama Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 25, 2011
    Cottonwood, Arizona
    Sissy may not be coming back in body, but in spirit she has taught you the value of relationship with chickens. An interesting experience, and more chickens will be your friend too, like any relationship it just takes time and patience. I have 11 - 10 day old chicks and everyone time I check on them I do a head count and watch for behaviors and still you never know. I have read in one forum that baby chicks should not be handled, my sense of this is that if you are raising a small backyard flock and you want to be able to handle them as adults you need to handle them now too, not just when they are sick or needing special attention. Best to you with the remainder of your flock!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by