12 day old broilers dying one per day, no obvious symptoms

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Curlygirl77, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. Curlygirl77

    Curlygirl77 New Egg

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    Aug 15, 2011
    This is our first large batch of broiler chicks - 78 all together originally, now down 5 to 73 - but I don't want to start losing them in big groups - well, I really just don't want to lose ANY more!
    We are keeping them in a room in our barn with pine shavings, plenty of water and food. We've given them probiotics and rooster booster in their water every day. We have not been giving them medicated feed and try to stay away from antibiotics if possible. We add fresh bedding to the top of the old bedding twice a day. (I was thinking deep litter system, but maybe they are too young?) they have access to grit. Friday we lost two chicks, but it looked like they had been smothered - under the heat lamp and in the area where they were nesting. We separated our heat lamps so they weren't concentrated in one tiny area, and the temperature has gone down overall to around 80-85 degrees F, but they are all spread out nicely now and don't seem to be piling. Saturday, Sunday, and today we have lost one chick a day. They have been mostly near or under the heat lamp, laid out with legs extended, and not flattened. Skin looks reddish and their feathers look dirty. One was still alive when I found it, I grabbed it and it squawked and flapped it's wings. I ran out to get a box, but it had died by the couple of minutes it took me to get back. My husband thought he saw fluid in the nostrils when he got the body, but I did not see that symptom. I have picked up the other alive chicks and listened for wheezing, but hear nothing.
    Every day I spend 15 minutes twice a day watching them - no sneezing, coughing, bloody stool. Some do have diarrhea, but most seem fine. I noticed over the last two days that some of them seem to have distended bottoms, but I wasn't sure if that was just the broiler stature. Some do have dirty /poopy bottoms too, again I wasn't sure about cleaning their bottoms since we're talking about a large number of chicks all together. I'm not sure if I can post pics since our main computer is in the shop for repairs.

    Any thoughts? I hate coming home to dead chicks every day. That is NOT the way I want them to all go and I'm getting discouraged. I'll use antibiotics if that's the best way to control this and best for my birds' health.
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I'm not sure why you are using a heat lamp in the summer and this could be your problem. They could have gotten too hot just from bedding down under the heat lamp itself and not necessarily smothered by crowding/piling.

    Try going without the heat lamp and see what happens. Broilers are naturally hot and do much better in cooler temps than do chicks of regular breeds. Do you have enough space in your coop/brooder for all those chicks to spread out and get away from each other when bedding down?
     
  3. Curlygirl77

    Curlygirl77 New Egg

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    Aug 15, 2011
    We live in Washington state so our nighttime temps are probably about 50-60 and daytime temp is 70-80. I know baby chicks like it warm so we've had two heat lamps on in a pretty big space. They can definitely get out from under the heat lamps if they want. I can reduce the heat though if you think that's a problem.
     
  4. Curlygirl77

    Curlygirl77 New Egg

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    Aug 15, 2011
    And yes, there's a good amount of space for them, but maybe we'll just open the room up so they have the entire 12x12 space.? Right now they have about half of that space.
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I would and make sure they have plenty of ventilation as these birds put off an amazing amount of heat/moisture with their droppings and just high metabolism in general. With normal chicks, I'd say your heat lamps wouldn't hurt a thing but these meaties are a whole 'nother breed.... [​IMG] They prefer cool and thrive better in cooler weather, seem too dumb to move out of obvious discomfort like a hot spot under a heat lamp and they will feather out better and more quickly if given a chance to do so without supplemental heating.

    it had died by the couple of minutes it took me to get back.

    Sounds like a stress related death but your birds don't seem to have any stress except maybe the heat generated by their bodies and your heat lamps, so this could be the explanation. I'd try it a couple of nights without any heat lamps and make sure they have good ventilation/air flow during the day...to a meatie chick, 80 degrees is like 100.​
     
  6. Curlygirl77

    Curlygirl77 New Egg

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    Ok, update: no new deaths today! Yay! We cleaned their pen last night, gave them some mild antibiotics, and enlarged their space so they could get away from the lights at night. It was chilly last night and they were huddled this AM. We went with one headlamp during the day and that seemed great. We gave them grass and food scraps tonight and they were running around like crazy, so seemed healthy and happy. Phew! I'll keep updating if anything else happens. Thanks for the feedback!
     
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    That's great to hear! Keep up the good work! [​IMG]
     

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