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2 week old chicks dying -- help!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Ryan McEachern, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. Ryan McEachern

    Ryan McEachern Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 2, 2010
    Maple Ridge, BC
    Hi, I have had 2 chicks die in the last 4 days. We had 22 chicks. I find no symptoms except that the chicks, ever since we bought a few from another person and added them to the newly hatched ones, have a bit of a sneeze or something. Not constant, and no mucus or anything at all. They seem active, the temp is right, and the ones who died didn't look particularly unhealthy when I looked at them last. No pasty butt, no lethargy or anything. Just finding a dead chick. The first was one of the new ones we bought, and the second was one we hatched. Any suggestions? I have been putting a couple Tbsp of raw apple cidar vinegar in the water.

    And as a side note, I had to deal with a chick with a prolapsed vent! Honey fixed it!

    Any suggestions of what to watch for or what to do would be appreciated!
    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
  2. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Too much vinegar isn't always good. In fact under certain conditions (excess heat) it can contribute to acidosis which can kill quickly. It's rare and I'm not saying it's what happened here, but I've read of it happening on a really hot day down under (Australia).

    I would back off the ACV until it's only a very low dose, but perhaps give other probiotics (especially kefir or you can just go out and buy some yakault etc). And right away, I would look at whether the chicks have coccidiosis because that often goes hand in hand with respiratory disease in chicks (lower immunity because of a respiratory challenge puts out the cocci-fighting ability as well). The first sign of cocci is going off feed, then sometimes drooped wings, fluffed feathers, hunched posture etc. This needs immediate treatment with a medication like Sulphaquin. And it also requires that the brooder be cleaned out and no water or droppings allowed to contaminate the feed (spilled water + heat = high cocci numbers in the litter).

    Lastly I would think about separating the sneezers (if there are any still doing this and if I have spare brooding equipment). But for me this would be a low priority as it's more than likely that all the birds by now have been exposed.

    These are just things I would do... I'm sorry if it's a lot of information all at once; I'm sure if you just clean the brooder and make sure feed and water are okay your husband will be grateful. Good luck!
     
  3. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 5, 2010
    Two more thoughts on this issue, hope you don't mind...

    The first is that if the brooder is slightly too cool, chicks will pile up and occasionally suffocate if on the bottom of the pile... Again I can't say if that happened here, but if the dead chicks look squashed, then consider checking the temperature. (If the chicks are loosely spread around the brooder it's fine, but if they huddle tightly it's too cool. If they hide against the walls it's too hot.)

    The second is that very young chicks can sometimes die mysteriously and quickly after being infected in the incubator with a germ. They can look quite fine until the end. Given the sneezes I tend to think that isn't the case here... But if it keeps happening until about day 10 and if the bodies have dark abdomens, it's a possibility.

    Hope this helps!
    Regards
    Erica
     
  4. chickenX

    chickenX Out Of The Brooder

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    you are in good hands, i think, with miss erica.
    being wise and observant myself, i agree with all of her wise observations and suggestions [​IMG]
    and i want to echo her thought that sometimes chicks pass and we never understand exactly why.
    all manner of problems can be present in the physiology of baby chickens - problems that we never see because the deformities are hidden deep inside the chick. and so seemingly healthy chicks will and do pass with no warning.
    i know that this knowledge does not make it "easy" to endure these loses- it's always sad to lose a companion animal - but i hope that this idea will help you feel just a little more comfortable.
    do hang in there and please enjoy your new fluffy friends.
    -chickenX
     
  5. Ryan McEachern

    Ryan McEachern Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 2, 2010
    Maple Ridge, BC
    THanks for the info. No more have died yet. They don't seem to be dog piling but I did check the temp and increased it a bit. I am making sure the brooder is clean and the food and water is kept clean as possible. The "sneezes" are still occuring but no worse, and all chicks are active. I will be careful with the ACV. The weather is cold and rainy so they aren't too hot.

    The brooder is in with the hens and likely they are all exposed I guess by now. None of those hens are sneezing and the older chicks with a mama aren't sneezing either. Will they always have it now then?? Only the strong survive? Or if I treat them with the above medication will it kill the virus?

    Thanks again.
     
  6. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 5, 2010
    Hope Leona doesn't mind if I post her message update... And my response (for what it's worth... Not being an expert). [​IMG]

    Message: "I had another chick die, this one in my hands while it gasped for breath. It was horrible. Anyway, I went to the feed place and got the sulpher stuff you recommended. I followed the directions and gave it to all my chickens. (complicated because of an automated watering system with nipples, 12 hens in one coop, 6 chickens in a different coop, a mother and 4 older chicks in another spot, and then the chicks in the brooder). I am now giving them water in a bucket but will buy a couple more waterers tomorrow.

    When should I clean out the coops? How? Wash with bleach solution? Is this a cure or just a temporary fix? Will the chickens have the bacteria or whatever it is for life now? Am I just building up an immunity? I am so new to all this!!!

    Thanks for any help you can give me."

    Response:

    I'm so sorry to hear you're still having chicks die... I have a feeling there's a combination of issues. The sulpha medication will make sure they don't have the intestinal problems caused by coccidiosis (which is carried in the soil and on ground). This will then give them the best chance to get over the respiratory illness. Often when chicks get coccidiosis they also catch anything respiratory that's going around... Their immune systems are just too busy handling it all at once.

    I have a feeling your older hens have been carrying a virus/germ that they've passed to the chicks. It isn't bothering the hens because they probably got over it (but some germs and virus cause the hens to become carriers). With good care the majority of the chicks should get over the disease too... All you can do is keep the nutrition good (chick feed is about 20% protein), the floor clean so there's no build up of droppings, the water fresh, and a source of warmth for the young ones (hen or heat lamp). Follow the sulpha medication directions and perhaps when the medication course has finished you could give them a little yoghurt and grated carrot/apple to get their intestines working well again.

    By the way, the hens shouldn't have access to the medicated water as the medication isn't meant to be given to them — it may leave traces in their eggs. You can administer the medication to each chick via the beak. Just be careful to trickle the liquid onto the lower beak and wait for them to swallow; don't squirt the stuff inside their open beaks as they may inhale it. If this is too much trouble just do whatever you have to do... Coccidiosis may be only a secondary problem here and while it's the most common cause of sudden chick deaths, it may be that it's not the main issue here.

    I really hope this clears up without more deaths... It's so sad when despite the best of care chicks die. Sometimes all you can do is basic good husbandry and see what happens... If deaths continue or if it spreads to older birds it's time to see about a veterinary post mortem (if you can afford it).

    Good luck!
     
  7. Ryan McEachern

    Ryan McEachern Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 2, 2010
    Maple Ridge, BC
    Thank you. We'll see what happens.
    One more question, will the sulpha drug cure or just help? I guess what I mean is, will the hens get it and pass it back to the chicks?

    I think the contamination came with the chicks we bought and added to our batch since we had them in the shower stall with a heat lamp first, before they were anywhere near the hens, and I heard one of the new chicks make that chirpy cough/sneeze first, inside a day from getting it. I feel like calling up the woman we bought the chicks from but I guess that wouldn't solve anything anyway!!

    Thanks. I'll keep you updated.
     
  8. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Leona,

    I think the sulpha drugs will only help if they also have coccidiosis. Since coccidiosis is common in chicks that also have immune problems because of a respiratory or other disease, the sulpha medication can give them a boost and help them through the virus/germ. But they basically still have to get through the respiratory disease themselves, especially if it's viral.

    Remember, without seeing the chicks I can't really say whether they have coccidiosis, a respiratory illness alone, or a combination... I'm just presuming going on past experience that sick chicks usually have cocci (whether alone or on top of another illness) and so giving them treatment for cocci may help get them eating properly and therefore able to fight the other ailment. (The first sign of cocci is going off feed, and when that happens other illnesses can be opportunistic.)

    It's a shame a chick was sneezing on arrival, that's always a worry. We've all done that! It's still best just to focus on good husbandry and giving the chicks the best chance to get over it... The owner of the chicks you brought in probably didn't know they had an illness, and stress of moving them probably brought it out... Very common!

    It may still be a good idea to separate all affected birds and any new sneezers... If you remove all birds as soon as they start sneezing then you may stop it spreading. But at some point you would then have to decide whether to put recovered sick birds back with the main flock (when some may be carriers), so that's why I don't say this is the only way to go...

    Personally I would probably have a go at separating the sick ones, maybe keeping all chicks together to make sulpha treatment easier, and try just basic TLC after the sulpha treatment. It may be that you keep having losses... I hope not, but if the sick ones are always taken away from the others then at least you may stop it spreading through all the birds. Later (say in a week) you might have a better idea of what the disease is and whether it's serious in terms of the whole flock.

    I'm sorry I can't say if the sulpha medication will cure or just help... It can't really cure a respiratory ailment (it's not a proper antibiotic but I gather it does have some antibiotic properties) but it may allow the chicks to feel well enough to eat and therefore survive better.

    Hope that makes sense. (Again, I'm no expert... Just thinking it through in terms of what I'd do if it happened here... As it has in the past.) [​IMG]

    Good luck!
     
  9. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

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    I do hope you get it sorted out but for future reference...and share this information. ALWAYS without exception quarantine any new additions...preferrably in an area where airborne transfer cannot occur, for a minimum of 4 weeks.

    It is no guarantee but it sure can weed out a major problem before a flock is infected is the new additions are sick and start declining.
     

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