6 Week Old Chick Suddenly Dies

ChickHitch

In the Brooder
Jul 13, 2021
4
23
21
Hello,
We ordered 15 Dominiques from Hoovers, 10 female, 5 male. They were hatched June 1st. When checking them this afternoon, I found one of the males dead. There were no signs of a predator; no dropped feathers, apparent wounds, the other chicks were acting normally. All of them, including the dead one, have been acting happy and healthy. I have heard the rare sneeze here and there and saw one spot of bloody droppings a couple of days ago, but there has been no sign of illness in their behavior. They were all vaccinated for Marek's and coccidiosis. They were moved from a box on the porch to the outdoor coop a week ago. We had a couple of chilly nights (in the 50s), but otherwise warm enough and their feathers were mostly filled out when moved. The coop is made of home milled pine with some cedar siding, and they have pine for bedding. I used an exterior stain that the home depot guy recommended for the inside of the coop, no poly or anything. The stain was applied just 3 days before we moved them. They are fed unmedicated organic starter, were not given anything toxic to eat and are not around any plants I know to be poisonous. I guess I'm just hoping for some advice as to whether I should be concerned for the other chicks and treat or do...something, or if it sounds like this was an issue with this individual. Thanks so much for any thoughts!
 

azygous

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Thank you for a very thorough rundown of your general setup. The one thing that stands out is the stain on the coop walls such a short time before the chicks arrived.

Are you able to smell it when you stick your head into the coop? Are the chicks able to get close enough to the sides that have been stained to peck at it?

I would like for you to do something. Take a soft white absorbent rag and scrub at the siding vigorously. Look at the rag carefully to see if any stain came off onto the rag. Now, smell the rag. Does it smell like stain?

If the stain is still damp enough to smell and leave a stain on the cloth, it's probably still toxic to small chicks. Even a tiny amount ingested can kill a chick.
 

ChickHitch

In the Brooder
Jul 13, 2021
4
23
21
That was my biggest concern too. I remembered after posting, the sides had been done a good three weeks prior, it was just the floor I finished somewhat last minute. I went out and scrubbed both the walls and floor like you suggested. Some coloring did come up from the walls, but not the floor and no smell from either. I wrestled with leaving it unfinished, now going to wish I had. Would poisoning from a stain have symptoms beforehand?
 

azygous

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Premium Feather Member
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Dec 11, 2009
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Yes. Balance problems would be the first sign. Then quickly, the chick would be unable to stand. The effects of poisoning would cause trouble breathing, then a seizure, then death.

Chickens are very sensitive to all petroleum distillates, especially chicks. I, myself,discovered this the hard way.
 

ChickHitch

In the Brooder
Jul 13, 2021
4
23
21
I do thank you for your response. I knew I was going to be paranoid about the stain, I just didn't have time to hunt down and order something truly non-toxic; however, the stain I used was an acrylic water based and to my understanding, absent of petroleum distillates. Not to suggest that means it's completely harmless, but even the 3 days I believe, should have been sufficient drying time. I may have to resign myself to not knowing what happened to this poor guy. The roosters have been starting to scuffle a bit, but I don't think they're yet big enough to really hurt each other...It is not impossible that there may have been a stray staple, nail or other hardware leftover on the ground from our construction he could have ingested. Maybe a weak heart? In any case, the others still look perfect this morning. I will continue to just monitor I suppose...
 

azygous

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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That's a big relief. It did occur to me the stain may have been acrylic, and there would be much less danger and lingering toxicity. The dead chick may have had other issues, as you suspect, possibly a genetic disorder that finally reached a tipping point.
 

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