All the chicks I hatch die...

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by farmergirl26, Nov 27, 2014.

  1. farmergirl26

    farmergirl26 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 8, 2014
    Hey everyone! Happy Thanksgiving!!
    This summer I hatched 9 chicks. The rest of my chickens (50+) are hatchery-bought, and are ages ranging from 7 years (still laying! :O) to 1 1/2 years. I've always had chickens die randomly, sometimes with prior sleepiness and low appetites, but sometimes out of the blue. It was infrequent enough that it never bothered me. But the survival rate of my home-hatched chicks is abysmal! They are 5 months old, and they've been dying one by one from 5 days old to today. Some died still in brooder, some died in a small coop and run adjacent to my flocks (second destination), and some died once fully integrated into the flock (final destination). Only 2 are left.

    Has anyone else had these problems? There must be something hatcheries do (vaccines?) that I can't do. I'm beginning to wonder if I should go back to buying from hatcheries.

    Thanks everyone, in advance!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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  3. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Do you worm your flock? Do you check them for lice & mites? What are you feeding? How many chickens do you have in your coop? What size is your coop?
     
  4. farmergirl26

    farmergirl26 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks so much for your help! Before I answer the specifics, I want to mention that my main question is why this is happening to my home-hatched chickens and not my hatchery chickens. Another odd thing is that they've died in all three of their locations.

    HOUSING
    #1 is a bunny hutch off the ground with largely draft free compartments and wire compartments. We cleaned it really well with bleach and a power-hose before putting them in. (They stayed for 2 months. This is where 3 of them died.)

    #2 is a brooder and run. The brooder had a wire floor off the ground, so it's pretty sanitary. They also had a 12 by 18 ft run. (They stayed for another 2 months. 1 died in there.)

    #3 is 111 sq. ft. coop with 12 big chickens and 8 bantams. The sanitation is not super good. The floor is wood on the bottom, but it's almost always covered in composting manure. It doesn't smell bad though... There's a lot of ventilation--4 ft from the floor has no draft. 5 ft. after that is open (with chicken wire) on three sides. The top 3 ft., where some roost up high, is closed off like the bottom. The run is around 600 sq. ft.

    FEED
    The feed is Modesto Milling organic. Our store didn't carry organic chick feed, so they grew up on 17% protein.

    TREATMENTS
    No, I don't worm. I check for lice and mites. They had mites this summer for about 3 weeks.

    Thanks so much everyone!
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Did you raise the hatchery birds in these same enclosures?
     
  6. farmergirl26

    farmergirl26 Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes. Do you think the food they were raised on might be the problem?

    Thanks!
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    If that's the first time you've used that food, it could be indicative of a problem with it.
     
  8. farmergirl26

    farmergirl26 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey everyone!
    I really want to resurface this one, because I just hatched 15 chicks on Wednesday, and today one died and another is about to die from this same problem I brought up in the forum. I've been doing research on chick diseases, but no one seems to be mentioning mine:
    1 day - 5 months (at least! this is just so far)
    Sudden death
    OR
    Symptoms for 1-3 days which are...
    Sleepiness and therefore no eating
    Floppiness
    Heavy-ish breathing
    Gasping (sometimes)
    Shut eyes

    The closest answer I can find is poor genetics, but no one goes into that in depth.

    I would LOVE any of you all to educate me on this, as I am very serious about breeding my own flock.

    Thanks!
    Maria
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Are you inbreeding? Brother/sister matings or intensive line breeding.
    Do they have space and excellent ventilation?
    What you're describing could be almost anything from nutrition, environmental, pathogen, etc..

    I can't imagine it would be anything like worms, coccidia or external parasites since the chicks are so young.

    If you truly want to get to the bottom of it, my very best advice is to take one that is close to death to your state poultry lab for humane euthanization and a complete necropsy.

    If they can't find a cause, then it's genetic and you need new birds.

    Otherwise you'll keep guessing, have us guessing, wasting time and money. In the long run, a necropsy is money well spent.
    I thought I had a problem in my flock and rather than treat everyone, I took the one sick hen to the lab. In 2 days I got a call and found it was cancer. Had I guessed, prophylactically treated the flock and still had the hen die, I would have prolonged her misery and not known what the problem was.

    You clearly have something going on that you can't determine without lab work.

    Where are you located.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
  10. farmergirl26

    farmergirl26 Out Of The Brooder

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    Almost certainly not inbreeding. Some are mixed breeds from different hatcheries, others are the same breed and hatchery as the roo. (There's only one rooster.) So the chances are really slim, and definitely not true in some cases (which have the same mortality rate).

    Thanks for the advice! I will definitely look into it. I live outside of San Jose (and Gilroy, Morgan Hill...)
     

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