3 wk old chick suddenly struggling for air.


In the Brooder
6 Years
Sep 7, 2013
Hello, this is my first post, so I hope I do this right. I have a 3 week old baby chick that was perfectly fine around 5:00 this evening, but around 6:30 or so, I noticed it suddenly stopped being active and kept falling asleep standing up. Within 30 min. or so it started sticking its head up , stretching its neck and doing some kind of sneeze hiccupy thing, which occasionally seemed to shake it's whole body. I thought it might start having seizures, but it never did. I've brought it inside and have been monitoring it. It's no longer having such violent shakes with these neck thrusts, but does seem to be struggling for air, or attempting to clear its throat, or something? I had a fellow chicken lover look over the chick for me and she doesn't think it has anything stuck in it's throat or crop. It does swallow minimal amounts of water, but that seems to make the problem worsen (causes the more violent form or gasping with shakes and "sneezing" sound). I've just gone to check on the chick one last time before bed and it is still doing mild neck thrusts, opening its mouth in the process. It also peeped at me when the bright light came on and opened its eyes real wide (hoping those are good signs). Anyway, I guess my questions are....of course: what in the world is wrong with this poor baby, and what, if anything can I do? I don't want it to suffer; should I put it out of its misery or wait it out until morning? So far I have checked it for a lodged object - nothing there, given it a small dose of olive oil - just incase something was lodged (saw that idea in another post), given it water (drop by drop; but not much), and tried to make it warm and comfortable. Thank you for any insight you may have and for your time; I really appreciate this resource!
He may have some sort of respiratory virus. Keep him warm and keep offering soft mushy foods (water , yogurt, and chickfeed mixed together or egg) and watch for any new signs. Infectious bronchitis can cause sneezing and nasal drainage in older chickens, but it can be much harder on chicks. IB doesn't respond to antibiotic, but Tylan 50 (dose 1/8 to 1/4 ml by mouth) could be used to prevent secondary pneumonia. Here is a link to diseases: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ps044
Eggcessive, THANK YOU, for your reply!! My little one made it through the night and I was able to get a tiny bit of egg and water into her this morning. She is no longer neck thrusting or anything, and has no other signs of disease. I noticed that she still struggled more after a drink or food though, and that her crop was large and squishy on one side. Sooo, now, I'm convinced she must have eaten something that was chocking her. I have been following the advice for sour crop, though I don't think that's the actual problem (her breath doesn't smell), by massaging the crop and turning her upside down. I have emptied a significant amount of the crop (it's certainly smaller), but not all of it and I don't want to exhaust the poor thing. I do feel something large within the crop and am worried that it may be too large to come back up? Do you have any advice on this new front? And...ACV: just for sour crop, or would that help here too, and how much do I add to the water? I will continue doing research, but any quick help from anyone would be most appreciated! This little baby is the one my three yr old chose as his own; I'd sure like to get her through this for his and the chick's sake!
Please help, anyone? I just saw a recent post that a three week old shouldn't be forced to vomit. I've been doing that to mine and she seems to feel better and several solid objects are ejecting (harvester ant, little tiny splinters, pieces of chick scratch, egg). She is peeping at me ow and walking around a bit, so I was sure hoping I was on the right track. I've been trying to get her to drink ACV water (though I'm not sure of the proper solution), and also tried yogurt, but she's not too interested in consuming much of anything. Her crop is still squishy and has obvious other solid objects rolling around in there, but it is smaller. I will rush out to get chick grit first thing in the morning, when the store is open again; I had no idea they needed that! Aside from that, what is the best coarse of action here? Any advice, truly appreciated!
The only thing I can help with is ACV. Dose is one TBSP per gallon of water. I guess I would just keep trying to get her to eat a little chick feed, moistened, but more importantly get water into her.
Keep vitamins-electrolytes and probiotic soluble powder labeled for poultry in the drinking water. Leave the ACV out of the diet. Don't allow the bird anything to eat but starter/grower crumbles for right now. Sprinkling a pinch of chick sized grit in the feed is fine after two weeks of age. Likely your chick aspirated (got fluid in its lungs). It could have been from being without water and getting thirsty, or the crop not emptying quick enough from blockage. Extra calcium in the diet should stop until they are old enough for a layer ration. Too much calcium can cause all sorts of developmental problems and organ damage. Keep an eye on the chick and watch the eating/drinking habits as well as breathing.
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Thanks to each of you for the advice! I guess her crop didn't empty fast enough of she just got a hold of something too large? I have four babies in my flock and they've had constant access to water. The other three chicks are perfectly healthy. I had thrown some scratch in their personal little yard, but mostly thinking it would be for the momma hen; I won't do that again! Anyway...I did stop turning her upside down as soon as I saw she was too young in someone else's distress post. I certainly hope I didn't cause this little chick further problems by having done it already. She honestly seemed to perk up after getting rid of some of that bulk though. Could there be long term effects from having done it?

As of this evening, right before I tucked her into her feather lined basket, the chick (her name is Cherry by the way), drank an impressive amount of water on her own and ate some of the water soaked crumble (chick start). Eating and drinking seems to set her back a little though; she gets still and sleepy and acts like she's got something stuck in her throat, by opening her mouth often and swallowing again and again. Eventually she calms and just goes to sleep. I'm sure hoping that the grit and electrolytes will be available at our little feed store in the morning, and that they will help Cherry get through this and back out exploring soon!

I'm still happy to receive input, suggestions, etc. I'm learning a lot and hope to avoid and/or resolve this kind of issue quicker if there is ever a next time.
My little chick threw up on her own when I picked her up this morning. Is this a new symptom? I'm getting so discouraged; not knowing the best way to help her. She ate and drank great last night but seems to be pretty uncomfortable with her crop full again this morning. She did drink again this morning though, so at least she's still trying!

My local feed store doesn't have chick grit, only oyster shell. Is the oyster shell o.k.? The clerk suggested that I just give the chick sand and small pebbles...that sounds good and all (what the chick would be doing naturally), but is the grit a better solution? What about parakeet grit if I find it?

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