4 of 6 day olds dead after 2 days

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by rowerca, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. rowerca

    rowerca Hatching

    Feb 12, 2008
    Oakland, CA
    Oh, this is a bummer of a first post for me. I'm sorry to say we ordered 5 chicks via mail and have lost all but two. I'll withhold the name of the hatchery because I doubt it's related to them, but here's the summary:

    5 chicks ordered, 6 shipped. This hatchery puts in a warming pad for orders less than 25 which indeed kept the box nice and warm. The USPS took 2 nights to ship them so they were sent on Tuesday and didn't arrive until Thursday morning. Upon arrival, 1 chick a red star was already dead. Our austrolorp was lethargic and droopy and died a few hours later. One SL Wyandotte chick seemed ok initially but never went for water. I kept her on my lap with a heating pad throughout the evening trying to water her with a teeny spoon. She showed signs of improvement but died the next morning. That left us with three, 2 buff orps and a Ameracauna all of which seemed ok, although I never saw the amer. drink water. Sure enough, last night she too got very droopy and was dead by morning. The orps are doing great, eating drinking, pooping, playing. We've got our fingers crossed.

    The brooder is a galvanized tub with wood shavings from a local feed store that moves a lot of chicken feed so I'm pretty sure it's not cedar. The bedding is covered with a layer of burlap for now.

    Unfortunately, I think the first day's casualties were due to the trauma of a 2 night shipment and a brand new faulty thermometer. It was reading in the upper 90's but just didn't feel that warm. I replaced it and sure enough it was reading 20 degrees warmer than reality. The poor gals were putting up with 75 degree temps, although interestingly never huddled together. I fixed this problem yesterday but even with the warmer temperatures, the last chick acted sick and died in full 95 degree heat.

    We're all a bit traumatized from the losses and think we'll find a local supplier rather than going through the mail for small orders again. These are our first chicks and would really appreciate feedback if anything in our setup doesn't sound right. Also, what is the likelyhood that chicks separated by three or 4 weeks would co-mingle happily? Should we separate the brooder for a few days if we go that route?

    Thanks for whatever help or advice you have!
  2. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

    Apr 6, 2007
    Sorry for your loss. Once a chick is chilled like that it's hard to recover.
    It's still too cold out.

    Check with your local feed stores. They may have chicks soon.
  3. coopist

    coopist Songster

    Jan 2, 2008
    Midwest U.S.
    Sorry to hear about your losses. I've heard of people dosing newly arrived shipped day-olds with a weak sugar water solution to give them instant strength. Also, if you know what to listen for, you can usually tell by the sounds that chicks make whether they are comfortable or cold. Cold chicks make a sad low sound like: "whu-u-u, whu-u-u." And happy warm chicks make a distinct, louder, sharper sound like: "WHEAT!, wheat, wheat!" If you hear them saying "Wheat," you've got things under control. If not, you need to provide better heat. Good luck with your remaining orps.

    As to the question about ages: It is best to wait until the younger chicks are about 3 weeks old before putting them in with chicks that much older. At that point, they'll have feathered out some, will be very active, and so will not have very different needs or behavior patterns from the older birds. I'm sure others may put them in sooner though; that's just my strategy.
  4. smith2

    smith2 Songster

    Jan 5, 2008
    Paris, TN
    I am just learning myself, but the first ever order I got from a hatchery was not really good. This early in the year, they just have a difficult time with cold especially during shipping. I do give mine sugar water and Gro-gel Plus B which seems to help get them started off better than just plain water. I have a lot better luck with the ones I hatch myself. There is just no telling what happens to them in the USPS. They could have been nice and warm upside down on their heads inside a plane and then sat outside on the dock until who knows when? So sorry for your loss. Every chick I lose just makes me sick.
  5. Hotwings

    Hotwings Songster

    Jan 27, 2007
    southwestern Michigan
    I am sorry for your loss. I have never ordered chicks over the mail-I have heard way to many horror stories just from this site alone. I would advise buying chicks from a feed store. You really aren't assured of healthy chicks either, but they order from hatcheries and the ones you see there at least have made it through the shipment. I am a big fan of homeraised chicks. I know alot of people don't want the bother of a rooster, but I believe hen raised chicks are healithier-I am a firm believer of animals raising their own. A hen is the best incubator around. The home raised chicks I know have been lovingly raised by a hen, live in a family type environment. These chickens came into the world not alone in a incubator but with a mama encouraging it ,they weren't thrown around in a hatchery or shipped.
  6. joanna

    joanna In the Brooder

    Mar 9, 2007
    well, I've ordered chicks from hatcheries for several years (different hatcheries) and this week I received my order from a hatchery who I order from regularly and 1/2 of them were DOA. what a devastating thing to deal with! the hatchery I use, uses a shipping label that notes the hatch time...mine were hatched Sunday 2/17 and I didn't get them until WED 2/20! I know that we had a cold snap, and with the postal holiday...timing was terrible, but right now, I have 5 healthy chicks out of the 31 I ordered.

    I guess I'm saying, I feel your loss. I think it's something we all deal with at some point and it never gets any easier. I guess you've contacted your hatchery and let them know what happened...if not, do so ASAP.

    I like ordering online so I can choose exactly what I want, not whatever my local feed store wants to order. I do shop locally though for fill-in animals that I don't want to order a minimum # of...like the 4 ducks I got last week.

    as far as your wood shavings...you can smell if they are pine or cedar. pine is good, aspen is good (so i've heard), cedar is BAD! personally, I've never used a thermometer...I've just guaged the temp by the chicks behavior.

    hang in there and I know you'll enjoy your chicks....we sure have! this board is a wonderful source of information and support.
  7. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Quote:Yes, once a chick gets chilled at that age is hard for it to recover. Depending on the location of the hatchery and the current weather it is not advisable to order and ship live chicks in the winter. Yes, hatcheries do it. They are trying to keep up with the demand for the chicks. They also are aware of the risks. There are only one or two hatcheries that ship with a warming packet, the other places are actually middlemen who get the chicks and ship them out in smaller quantities.

    Please do not place all of the blame on the hatchery or the shipper. I know you are devistated and upset at the loss of the chicks right now. If those chicks came from a cold weather climate and got sick during shipment you also have to take responsibility for ordering them in the winter and not waiting until the weather is more seasonable. I don't mean that to sound harsh or critical. It is realistic.

    I always encourage folks to check the weather forecasts and try to choose the optimal weather for shipping live chicks. It is just too risky when the weather is cold. It is also just as dangerous in the heat of summer when temps are climbing to the high 90's and into the 100's.

    Perhaps you could look around or list the types of chicks you would like to have on the Buy Sell Trade Giveaway board. Someone might be near you and have lovely chicks.

    I am very sorry for your loss.
  8. rowerca

    rowerca Hatching

    Feb 12, 2008
    Oakland, CA
    I think the hatchery is just fine. I think the 2 nights it took in the mail, coupled with our misreading thermometer did them in. I just checked with our local feed store who said they weren't getting chicks until April, apparently got a whole slew of them in this week that hatched the same date as ours! There's even some breed matches with the ones we lost. So we're going to go local and introduce new ones.

    As for hatching our own, Oakland doesn't allow roosters so until we have a broody hen, the heat lamp will have to do!

    Thanks for all the help!
  9. ibpboo

    ibpboo Where Chickens Ride Horses

    Jul 9, 2007
    always changing
    Yaaaaaa chickens in Oakland, thats really cool. I use to have family in Oakland. I'm 2 hours south.
  10. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Songster

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    I ordered mine from Murry McMurray. They warned me that they were having a very cold time there and that I should watch their weather and I could pospone my shipment. I ordered 75 chicks so I figured they would be warm in that large a quanty. I also know that there is a straight shot from them to me, and I get them the very day I order. (Thanks to a wonderful sort center that calls me) So they shipped Sunday, and I got them Sunday night 9pm. Because I knew how fast I'd get them, I went ahead and had them shipped. I still had 3 losses. (a very sad thing) And I've been cleaning lots of little pasty butts. So I'd say it's just the shock of shipping and not your fault. I do give mine sugar water with vit. and electrolytes for several days.

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