All my baby chicks died...WHY???

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by deapot2, Feb 19, 2016.

  1. deapot2

    deapot2 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 9, 2015
    I tried hatching my own eggs for the first time within the past month. I started out using my broody hen, but pulled the eggs at day 18-21 (they were set on different days...didn't know you should set on the same date) and put them in a new incubator after mama hen ate a hatching and pipped egg.

    The first hatch was still attached via the cord. It looked weak from the get-go. It never walked well, was completely lethargic, and frankly I expected it would die. It kept laying down, and rolling on its back. Its head was tilted to the side, and frankly it just didn't appear to have any sort of ability to hold its back up. It finally did die on its 3rd day of life.

    That same day, another was born. It appeared healthy. It was moving for the first 24 hours, seemed good. Then it too became lethargic. It was tired all the time, and same symptoms as the first. It died last night.

    Two days ago, the final chick in the bunch was born. Just as the first, it had the lethargy and all the other symptoms. I expect it will die while I'm at work today.

    What did I do wrong??? I got a syringe and fed the first in case it was dehydrated. I showed the chicks where food and water were, and they were always available. I splinted the feet in case they were spraddled, and put in a coffee cup with paper towels in case the legs just weren't strong enough.There is a chance the brooder lamp wasn't as warm as it should have been because I didn't have it lowered enough (again, didn't know). Pine chips and non-slip flooring mat in the brooder tub. But would that have caused these symptoms? I've read a bit about Marek's. Is that it???

    Noteworthy: The chicks all hatched between days 24 and 26 of incubation. I expect that was potentially due to the extremely cold weather outside that we had in late January. There is also a chance that the broody left the eggs for more than a few minutes. I know one time she kicked one of the eggs out of the nest.

    Please help. I'm not trying to be a pain with posts. I am trying to learn from my mistakes. I have been told by my family that I am chicken obsessed because I have done so much research this week. It's all I talk about. I feel like it's my fault and I don't want to bring any more chickens into this world until I know what happened and if it's something I can change.

    Heartbroken. I'm not sure my four year old can handle more chicken deaths at this point. :(
  2. yellowherb

    yellowherb Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2015
    It sounds like they were weak from the beginning. If eggs do not hatch at the 21 day mark or 22 at the latest you can expect problems. (some chicken eggs hatch at day 19). Your hen sounds as if maybe she was not a good incubator. I'd try again with a incubator the entire time. You can control temps better and you will not be kicking eggs out of the nest :)

    More ideas, you need to have a brooder big enough for the chicks to choose their own temperature. They need to be able to move out of the heat or into if they feel cold. While the idea of a coffee cup for splay leg is a good one, it does not allow the chick to regulate their temperature. I'd do the coffee cup therapy on a splay leg chick for 30 minutes at a time in a slightly shaded part of the brooder.

    So sorry it went bad for you.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  3. deapot2

    deapot2 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 9, 2015
    I lovingly refer to them as mutt eggs from my own flock. It did go terrible. We wanted so badly for it to work out. And frankly, I'm scared to try again. I don't want to selfishly bring more into this world and 2atch them die.

    Thank you for your response.
  4. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 28, 2008
    I don't think you could have done anything differently to change the outcome. Something went wrong during incubation, and the chicks were weak from the beginning. They just failed to thrive.
  5. N F C

    N F C phooey! Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013
    Sorry for the loss of your chicks, that's always rough. [​IMG]

    I do hope you'll try again, just use the incubator from the start. Try to think of what happened as a learning experience and do things a bit differently next time.
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    I only have 2 other thoughts to add to those already posted:

    First, it could be a nutritional issue. While layer is designed to give the chicken what it needs to lay eggs, the manufacturers don't add any more nutrient than necessary to achieve the purpose of providing nutrition to allow a hen to continue laying. If the flock gets any scraps, those scraps may be better, or even worse than the basic nutrients in the layer. Winter time is a difficult time b/c the flock is also working on keeping warm, and there are typically not a lot of high nutrient foraging options. So, nutrition may be suspect.

    Second, I wonder if your incubator temp was low, as well as your brooder. Chicks and eggs MUST have the correct amount of heat to survive. If they get too much, they die quickly. If they get too little, they still die, but at a slower rate. Even with a thermometer, you're shooting in the dark with an incubator to try to get the right temp, UNLESS you have calibrated it. I recommend that you read (if you haven't already) "hatching eggs 101" in the learning center. It will tell you every thing you need to know to have a very good hatch next time around. Wishing you the best.
    2 people like this.
  7. deapot2

    deapot2 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 9, 2015
    Hmm, the nutrition could be a factor. That might be something to look at. I have read the hatching 101, so I did calibrate the thermometer and also put 2 extra ones in the incubator as well. So honestly, the temp and humidity should have been ok in there as I put a damp sponge in too. But the nutrition is worth taking a look at. Thank you for that!
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    You're very welcome. And glad you read that first!
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    When eggs hatch that late it generally means the incubation temperature was too low. Really late chicks are often not real strong. It just sounds like those were slow to develop. That would have happened before you moved them to the incubator at the times you mentioned.

    Most of the time a broody hen will do a better job of incubating than we will with our incubators. There are threads on here of how hens were able to hatch eggs and do well even in the middle of winter as far north as you are or even further north. But “some” broody hens just aren’t as good as “most” broody hens. Each is a living animal so they don’t come with guarantees. I think you were just unlucky and had a poor broody hen.
    1 person likes this.
  10. realsis

    realsis Crazy for Silkies

    Jan 17, 2013
    Hi. First I'd like to say I'm so very sorry for your losses. I agree with what has been said above. Don't give up and keep trying. You can even order fertile eggs if you are interested in hatching different breeds. I'm sure if you keep trying you will have your chicks in no time. Sounds like YOU did things correctly but it was the chicks that had issues. I know it's still difficult to loose them and I just wanted to chime in and say how sorry I am you lost them.I also want to offer some encouragement to keep trying. Keep us posted on how things progress in the future. Best wishes.

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