2 chicks dead (3 weeks old) with no warning

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by dollychicks, May 25, 2010.

  1. dollychicks

    dollychicks Hatching

    May 25, 2010
    We got 6 chicks at the end of April - 2 silver-laced wyandottes and 4 buff orpingtons. When they were 1 week old one of the wyandottes started gasping for air when we gave them grit. It seemed to go away but she died several days after this began. Now two weeks later the other wyandotte is dead. She was fine last night. This morning we found her dead. There was absolutely no warning. Now one of the buffs seems to be lethargic.

    The kids are heartbroken, but we don't know what to do. Should we give the lethargic buff electrolytes? antibiotics? Should we keep them extra warm?

    Both wyandottes were active, eating, having normal poop, etc. They really seemed like the strongest ones of the group. They live in a box in the garage lined with newsprint and papertowel. They spend the days in a cage outside where they have access to dirt, weeds, and bugs. We feed them chick feed and occasional treats like watermelon rind and moths. Their hatch date was 4/28, so they are about 3.5 weeks old. Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. wegotchickens

    wegotchickens DownSouth D'Uccles & Silkies

    Jul 5, 2007
    Sevier County, TN
    First off, [​IMG]

    Second, sorry about your birds! Not sure what could be wrong. If only one breed was affected, then I'd say it was genetic issue. But with the Buff acting strange...

    What do you feed them?
    What temp are they kept at when inside?
  3. MotherJean

    MotherJean Songster

    The important thing now is to try to save the sick Buff and prevent any more dead chicks so here's what I would do:

    1. Put everyone back indoors, in a brooder. No more outdoor time until they are fully feathered out (6-8 weeks).
    2. If the temperature in your house isn't at least 75 degrees day and night, provide additional warmth in the brooder with a regular light bulb or a heat lamp. Use a thermometer to make sure it's neither too warm nor too cool directly under the light. Next week, they should be at 70 degrees under the lamp. The week after, they probably won't need any extra heat.
    3. Feed absolutely NOTHING except medicated chick feed. You may "treat" with plain yogurt (no fruit/sugar) or scrambled eggs. Do this until fully feathered (6-8 weeks).
    4. Provide lots of clean water. Clean their water fount frequently. When you refill, make it tepid water, not cold. To one quart of water, add 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar (not white and not wine vinegar). For best results, buy unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the "mother" - available at the health food store.

    Very important: Give NO grit and give nothing but the chick crumbles, yogurt or scrambled eggs until your chicks are fully feathered and ready to go outside full time. Then, be sure to supply chick grit so they can process the grass, bugs, etc.

    This may sound like a very conservative approach since you'll find lots of posts on BYC with folks feeding a bunch of treats to their 1 week old chicks and putting them outside to play without bad effect. Unfortunately, you're not one of those. Since you've lost two chicks and had a third that is now sick within 3 1/2 weeks, I heartily recommend this very conservative approach.

    Please let everyone know what you decide to do (so we can all learn) and tell us how it goes. Hoping it all goes well.
  4. dollychicks

    dollychicks Hatching

    May 25, 2010
    Thanks so much for the advice.

    The buff seems to be better. Maybe she was just tired and I was paranoid? Or maybe she's recovering. Regardless, we will definitely treat her with care.

    We've had the heat lamp in their box inside and out. I was worried that it might be a little cold for them last night (when one died), but none of them were even under the lamp when I checked on them at 1am or again at 6am. I've been adjusting their lamp based on their behavior - they seem pretty reliable about showing us when its too cold or too warm. They would tell us (by huddling under the light) if it was too cold, right?

    I'll try keeping them indoors again. We initially set them up outside because they were starting to go crazy inside, ripping and eating the paper in their box, etc. We also felt sad for the first chick who died before ever seeing the outdoors. We've got them in a bigger box now, though, so maybe it will be better for them. We'll try it.

    I'll let you know what happens.

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