12 Day Old Lethargic SICK CHICK!!


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 12, 2009

I am new to chickens just having taken the plunge. I have 8 baby hens that were born on June 1st that all seemed happy and healthy until today.

My little Cukoo Marans has been lethargic all day. She just stands around not moving much. While the other chicks run around she doesn't. I have checked on them when sleeping and she is usually separate from the rest of the group. She does not seem to eat or drink. I've did a search on sick chick in the forums and have been reading for over an hour but am still not sure what is going on. I am really worried about her.

Here is all that I have done / observed.

1. Lethargic, Sleepy - about 10 hrs now.
2. Does not seem to Eat or Drink.
3. Pooped once, clear-ish, runny, and small.
4. Does not avoid handeling (all the others do, seems to lack the energy to move away or struggle)
5. Vent is clear but seems a bit pink and swollen below the vent.
6. Tried to give hard boiled egg but did not seem interested in eating.

All the chicks are on aspen pine bedding, they are eating organic chick starter. I clean the brooder 3 times a day and change the waterers each time. I have given them a few worms here and there along with bits of grass to scratch at.

Any thoughts on what is going on would be greatly apprecited. I would hate to loose her.



Saint Paul, MN
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Try giving her some sugar water, or poly-vi-sol (without iron) vitamins. Give her a drop or two in her beak and see if she gets stronger. Sadly some chicks just do not thrive and there is nothing we can do. I hope she makes it.

Oh and
from North Carolina!

She is still alive today...

I put some electrolytes in the water hoping that will help. She moves around a little more today and was eating some. Haven't seen her drinking yet, so made her drink a little. Saw her poop once today and looked like there was some blood in the poop. Could this be Cocci? At 13 days isn't that too early? They did enjoy some worms I found at the bottum of the compost pile about 5 days ago.

Went out today and got some medicated feed to be safe (was using unmedicated feed).

She was scratching at her neck / crop a bit. Not sure if maybe its impacted, or if she was just cleaning her feathers from the bit of water that got on them when I made her drink (from a dropper). Her crop definitely appeared full, seemed like there was some air there too.

I am afraid I am coming up with too many diagnoses not properly understanding what is happening.

Any thoughts? All help is greatly appreciated, I don't want to loose her.



Saint Paul, MN
not id she is put where coccidiosis germs are
is she on soil or ground or in a pen where coccidiosis is or has been

actually I would use some corid

it will not kill the chicks

corid 9/6% in the water
and in the feed

how many chicks are there she is with?

email me for the recipe
She is in a brooder with 7 other chicks. The brooder is 4x8 with a 250 watt red heat lamp in the middle. They are on aspen shavings and currently living inside. They have not yet been outside, but I have brought them worms from outside and they have had some exposure to soil and grass.

I moved her into quarantine earlier today just to be safe and so I could examine her poops.

I haven't seen Corid at the local supply store but I have access to Sulmet. Will that work as well as Corid? Should I start them all on it?



Saint Paul, MN
Please be careful with worms from compost piles. First off, compost piles can be sources of botulism. And earthworms are sources of parasites. Exposing such young birds to these things is way too big a risk.

Most likely, this one hasn't been able to be strong enough internally to fight all the exposure to the things that are in the worms. Also chicks need grit to eat grass, and 12 days is a bit young as well.

Since you're seeing blood, and using organic (as in non-medicated) feed, I'd treat with Sulmet. The reason I'd treat with sulmet is that it's more broad spectrum than Corid, which is just active against protazoa. Sulmet is also active against E. coli.

Your feed contains probiotics. However, probiotics don't neccessarily do well in feed-bag conditions. So during this stress period, and *always* during medication, I'd give all your babies another form of probiotics in addition to what's in their feed. That could be plain yogurt, acidophilus capsules, Probios or Fastrack (etc - horse/cattle aisles) from the feedstore. Just make sure there are living colonies of bacteria in the probiotic you choose.

This is absolutely necessary! Chicks aren't born with good bacteria in their gut; hen-raised chicks are 'innoculated' with bacteria by pecking their mothers' droppings and thus injesting her bacteria.. They MUST have good strong beneficial bacterial colonies or they will become readily ill and never thrive. that's why your food has probiotics in it. Again the living bacteria sometimes die off in bags of food. So always, with babies, give them a little extra probiotics to start them off.

You could isolate the one chick and just treat him with the Sulmet. But I find chicks don't do well separate so I'd put another little buddy in with him, or treat the whole flock.

I am NOT a big pusher of drugs, but I know when there's a need for them and this is one for this chick. Blood shows an advanced state of either cocci of bacterial digestive tract irritation. So his treatment needs to be done immediately.

If you can NOT find sulmet but can find Corid, then use Coris - but again in this case I'd recommend Sulmet. Not any other antibiotic, especially not Durmycin or any -mycin.

If you do separate the bird out, give all the other chicks probiotics to boost their guts in case they, too, were exposed to something.

In the mean time, if you want to provide them some protein treats, try egg yolk - or even purchased mealy worms when they're much older. Mealies are quite easy to breed. But earth worms, and compost, are just too risky. If the chickens find them on their own - then so be it. Just don't add to the risk. (And it's not your fault - it's a very common misconception about worms because the birds love them so much!)

Edited note: I just read your last post, so that goes alone with some that I've written above.
Also make sure that the brooder isn't too hot. I switched from red heat lamps to simple white 100 watt bulbs for that reason. The air temperature with red heat lamps is deceiving. The heat will actually be way more hot on chicks than thermometers will register. I found that I had too many problems with heat with the red-uv-heat lamps. Just a thought.
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To go along with Nathalie's "threehorses" comments here is my suggestion

I would put them on 7 days of sulmet or corid in the water
for the coccidiosis now that you have it

Nathalie's explanation of sulmet is
Sulmet is sulfamethazine. coridis amproylium
Sulmet is used for treatment against bacterial scours in cattle, which just happens to be E. coli.

It also is used against Coryza, Pastuerella, and Salmonella Pullorum in poultry. It's an old fashioned sulfur drug, very broad spectrum, safe for babies, easy to give.

then give them the wet mash probiotic so they can make good gut flora

Here is the way I would use and have used sulmet for coccidiosis

Now what to do and what to feed after medicating for coccidiosis

to make sure they eat the medicated wet mash do this first ans second day of treating and medication in the water 7 days
also I use the wet mash with sulmet or corid

14 tsp of dry crumble feed
28 tsp of water
1 tsp of sulmet
mix good and feed each chick 2 tsp of this

if using corid 9.6%
for 7 chicks
14 tsp OF of dry mash
28 tsp of water
add 2 tbsp of corid 9.6% to the water
feed 2 tsp per chicken for a feeding
feed this two mornings to get the medication in the birds
also at same time put the corid or sulmet in the drinking water for 7 days

each chick get 2 tsp of the wet mash with coccidiosis meds

speckled hen gives corid(9.6%) liquid in 3-4 tbsp per gallon of water

and after medicating give the following things

either the corid amproylium or the sulmet will work but now you have a difficient gut problem with the E.coli
and it needs to have the Vitamin E and selenium put in the wet mash probiotic to help the E.coli gut problem

do this

now the
natural probiotic recipe is is:
1 qt of dry crumbles
2 qts of milk, sweet, sour, or buttermilk or a mixture of all or some
1/4 cup of non flavored yoguart ( no artificial sweetmer)
mix good

and add 1- 1000 mg of Vit E by cutting the end off the vit E capsule for each chick fed this wet mash
and 1 seliunium tablet crushed for each chick fed this wet mash
putting it in the wet mash

this for each chick your treating
so for each chick use 2 tsp of mixture and 1-1000 mg of Vit E
and 1 sleinium tablet crushed in the wet mash probiotic
twice a day for them till the manure is solid

and feed each chick
2 tsp full of the wet mash probiotic and what they will clean up in 20-30 minutes
then clean wet feeders and restock dry crumbles

do this twice a day for a week
till the chicks manure is right
then quit the Vit E and selinium make just the wet mash probiotic
then once a week for life

All the while after mdicating the birds use
do not use ACV with medication

2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar per gallon of the chicken water so their gut flora wil be regulated they should have this at least 3-5 days a week
then three days aweek after they are over coccidiosis

the vit's are neccessary to clean up the damaged gut problem
take all the electrolytes out of the water

email me any questions so you are not confused
Three Horses and Glenda THANK YOU so much for your help!!

So far things are looking good. Ruby (the sick one) is now running around a little, eating and drinking. She still seems a bit slower and less active then the other 7 girls but if I had not known she had been sick I probably would not have noticed. Her poop today did not appear to have any blood in it, but had a white tint to part of it immediately after pooping (normal?).

I tried isolating her in a 12in high box in the brooder but after a couple hrs she decided she was well enough to jump out and be with the rest of the chicks. So be it, I thought it a good sign she had the energy to get out.

I got the sulmet as you reccomended. The bottle guided putting it in the water at a rate of two tablespoons pr gallon so I have been doing that in all the waterers. The directions say to do it for 5 days, should I stop at 5 or go for the full 7 as you suggest?

Why are the electrolites bad? The Vi-tal I have has both the vitimans recommended and electroites. Should they not have this? I had given them some, but stopped, should I continue or will that do more harm than good?

Last night I gave them a mix of yougart and medicated feed which they happily gobbled up. I will continue doing that every night for a while.

I had no idea about the compost and worms. Wont do that again. Should they have egg yolk only or whites too? I hard boiled some eggs and mashed them up but the chicks seem to prefer the whites to the yolk part.

The heat lamp is pretty far up now and they have not seemed to huddle under it or stay in the corners of the brooder so I think the temp is ok. I have a wireless temp sensor in the brooder so I can see what the temp is from the kitchen.

Anyway, I am a little upset with myself for giving them worms too early. What do you suggest age wise before letting them have access to things like veggies, grass, dirt etc? I have been planning on moving them outside to the coop when they are 1 month old, is that too early? When do you think it is ok to give them some sunshine and grass to run around in (that is for brief periods when the weather is good before going back to the brooder I was planning to start that next week?)

Thank you so much for your help again!


Saint Paul, MN
Your helpers went offline so I'll answer some of this.

Chicks, and people, can overdose on electrolytes.

When you put them outdoors, they are going to eat earthworms and other little critters. As they live outdoors, sooner or later they will acquire some intestinal worms, just as they will lice/mites from wild birds. If they are healthy and you do a little management, they can live for years anyway. But giving earthworms to very young chicks could be a bit of an overload. Don't beat yourself up about it. People do it all the time and get away with it.

Speckledhen (a Moderator here) has talked on several threads about cocci. Says she uses medicated starter but has recently usually had to treat for cocci anyway. She usually treats with Corid. Guess something is changing out there.

Chicks raised on the ground by a hen will acquire flora for their gut from mama (they eat some of her poop.) This is why probiotics for brooder raised chicks are such a good idea.

Nothing wrong with egg whites. Yolk is mostly fat, gives them a boost, but white is mostly protein, good for them too.

Those 250W heat lamps are really only necessary for outdoor brooding.

I'll let Glenda deal with the Sulmet question. You could email her.

Good luck!
As usual, I completely agree with ddawn's post. Especially the part about not beating yourself up about earthworms.
We've ALL done it, and chicks - well you really want to spoil them don't you? I do!

I'm glad to hear that things are looking up. On Ruby, personally I would treat her since you saw blood - but you might be able to do probiotics and boost her that way. And yes - the white tint - that's the urates, a bird's way of urinating. (They can't have bladders and fly - so they make urates to keep their bodyweights down by design.)

I'll leave the 5 or 7 days to Glenda - but of course at least treat for 5 days.

On the electrolytes, basically too much of any vitamin or mineral or micronutrient is bad. Many nutrients are tied to other nutrients and must be in balance. If you over do some, you risk that delicate balance. You basically can overload a bird. There's a time and place for vitamins/electrolytes, but usually with a healthy flock and a complete feed you don't need them. You shouldn't need them.

Good on the yogurt treat! I'm glad to hear that they gobbled it up. I bet that was adorable, and hey - it was healthy too!

On the compost and worms, be glad you learned the easy way early. I learned the hard way and lost a very very precious duck. Who'd have thought, really? It's not a sure-thing problem, but it's dancing on the edge of risking things. And it sounds to me like you adore your flock and want them to last as long as possible. Because I feel that way, too, I thought I'd just share my mistakes (and what i researched on my mistakes for years afterwards) to help you not have the heartache I did. /hugs Again, please know that we all are learning - all of us, even lovely Glenda and I try to learn every day as well.

had to laugh at the white part. It's ok - it's just the yolk, as it's designed to nourish them through their egg period, is where all the nutrition is.

Well the brooder sounds ok. Honestly I used a UV heat lamp for years. You know how to watch them, so just monitor them. Sounds like that is all managed very nicely!

And please don't be upset at yourself about the worms. As far as exposure to natural grass/dirt, they can get this from the start with a hen around to (as ddawn said) innoculate them with the ammo they need to fight problems with it. Since alot of us don't hen-raise babies, we instead use the coccidiostat amprolium. And speckledhen uses the coccidioCide version (kills, doesn't just hamper) Corid. I think most of us use probiotics to provide what the hen isn't there to provide, live bacteria as the necessary defense in the gut.

On the month old, I'd say that's a bit young. If I have a predator free area (which unfortunately I don't) I like to wait til at least two months. But that's just me. I'd get a range of experienced opinions and see how it works. Glenda has more experience with raising birds outside - so I'd lean on her advice for that. You're right in that sunshine and movement, grass, these are all good things for babies. I honestly wish I had a place where I could let my hens raise their own!

I know we're all glad to help, and especially because it's obviously you're doing all that you can for the younguns.
Thank you for that - it's a pleasure to talk chickens with you.

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