Afraid I'm somehow (accidentally) killing my pullets!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by timebider, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. timebider

    timebider Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, all, thanks so much for any advice/suggestions you may have! Of course whenever I find out that something is really wrong, it's after all the vets have closed for the day.

    I have nine, nine-week-old pullets. They get organic chick starter and "chickie-puffs" supplement from MPC plus dandelion greens and fresh fruits and veggies.

    On Tuesday morning I moved them from my garage to our new coop, which has windows on three sides but also has a metal roof and is in full sun. Came out to check on them about noon and found them overheating (panting). Immediately got them out into a shady, breezy area and they instantly started chowing down on grass. Two or three took a few minutes to stop mouth-breathing in-between beakfuls of grass but they pretty much seemed to recover quickly.

    I plan to free-range them in a 1/4-acre lot but the fence needs repair, so I'm carrying them one by one to and from the coop to a temporary pen in partial shade every day. In doing so, I've realized that all of their breastbones are prominent, but 2 or 3 of them, the ones that seemed most affected by the overheating, are alarmingly skinny (breastbone jutting out). I've read many possible reasons for this, but nothing to tell me whether this could be a result of the overheating and if so what to do. I have to go out a few times a day and shove the food down in their gravity feeder because it doesn't drop down itself; maybe they aren't getting enough food? They also aren't drinking as much water as I'd expect, but my expectations may or may not be reasonable. I've seen them "yawning" sometimes ever since I started putting them on the grass, so I've been giving them grit and they are eating it. They're all active and seem otherwise healthy, eyes clear, no sneezing, no scratching, etc. I'm just completely freaked out (okay, frantic) by how thin they are, especially the one who seems to hardly have any breast muscle. I'm planning to take a fecal sample to the vet for a worm check tomorrow (I assume if one has them, they all do?) but what else can I do to get some meat on their bones? Feeling like the world's worst chicken mom right at the moment; nearly have myself convinced they'll all be dead by morning.
    [​IMG]

    Very grateful for any and all ideas and advice! (I'm also okay with being laughed at as a hysterical beginner.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  2. ceceuu

    ceceuu Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like you are a very good chicken Mom. If they are active I wouldn't worry too much but I would make sure they have access to food all the time they are awake. Maybe replace that feeder that isn't working.
     
  3. ChickenChaser9

    ChickenChaser9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If it is hot they NEED shade. A coop with a tin roof is little better than an oven. Lush bushes and vegetation is best since it is a source of shade and food. Frozen berries and veggies are great treats to help cool off the birds and putting a bottle of ice in the water system to cool off the H2O is a good idea.
     
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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  5. AmandaMBG

    AmandaMBG Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A metal roof is not like an oven lol!!! My coop has a metal roof and we are in the desert and its 10-20 deg cooler in the coop than in the run. My chickens literally stay in there all day on hot days which is most days in the summer. You can see them randomly bolt out and then back in to check if it's gotten any cooler outside and hasn't. Panting and holding out their wings is inevitable depending on where you live. As long as they are not lethargic and eating/drinking I wouldn't worry too much. None of my birds (well except my Dominique rooster) have very much meat. It's just the nature of the beast living and running around in high heat. If you are worried about parasites you could always add some Food grade DE to their feed for a bit.
     
  6. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    You have received some good advice from the previous posts.

    When you take them to the temporary run, do you take their food with them as well?
    If not then, take the feeder or a dish of feed and place it in a shady area. Chicks this age need to protein that is in the starter feed. If the feeder is not gravity feeding properly, then make a wet mash and place it in a dish for them to eat a couple of times a day. Chicks love wet feed. Also make sure they have plenty of water available. Show them the feed and water. While grass and treats are fine for chicks to consume, their crumbles are nutritionally balance, so their main diet needs to be the feed.
     
  7. AmandaMBG

    AmandaMBG Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I should add tho that because I live in the desert and we have mild winters and extremely hot summers my coop has a LOT of ventilation. The majority of the front is hardware cloth and it has a window in each of the other walls as well as right under the roof on three sides.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. BlueBaby

    BlueBaby Chillin' With My Peeps

    To get them to eat... along with the wet mash that Wyorp Rock mentioned above, you could add some peeled and crushed up hard boiled egg into it. It would add extra protein for them, and they will love it. I live in the desert too, and I have a misting system at the far end of my run that I run on the hotter days. I barely crack the misters open though, because otherwise you get too much water on the ground. I have the end where the misters are at covered top and sides with one of those sunscreens. They enjoy standing under the misters, and walk though the puddle of water that it creates.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016
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  9. AmandaMBG

    AmandaMBG Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is a good idea! I actually just bought the rest of the stuff I need to put misters in my run as well. And another thing you can do is put a shallow pan of water for them to walk in to cool themselves off.

     
  10. timebider

    timebider Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks so, SO much for the encouragement and suggestions, everyone! I did the mash with some scrambled eggs (plus a very small dish of plain yogurt as a treat); they loved it and it made me feel better to see them chowing down on something so nutrient-dense. I also mixed some food-grade DE into their feed. Tomorrow I'm going to get another waterer and add some electrolyte to it so they have the option of that plus plain water.

    I'm in Wisconsin so the last thing I'd have expected was overheating birds! I've been taking their food and water with them to the shaded run (which I move daily) and it's also been cool and breezy out, so there's been no more overheating. But yeah, I do have some very thin girls. Didn't make it to the vet with a poo sample today but I still plan to do it even though it all looks normal. I'm mainly anxious about the skinniest one, a BCM who is also the largest; I'd like to think she's been putting her energy into growth but Google is scaring me with much worse ideas. I'd cart her in to the vet just for peace of mind but I don't want to stress her unless I really need to, and she seems more or less as active and healthy-looking as her sisters. I fixed the fence today so they'll be free-range in a protected 1/4-acre area starting tomorrow.

    Funny thing is, if the fence hadn't been damaged, I might never have realized what was going on with them since the extent of my handling is usually hand-feeding and petting. So that's just one more lesson learned: petting them while they sit on my knee is not enough handling to be fully aware of their physical condition!

    Again, thanks so much, everyone. [​IMG]
     

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