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Am I failing at raising chickens??

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by grammaC, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. grammaC

    grammaC Chirping

    Jan 8, 2011
    SE Minnesota
    I started with 21 chicks (10 RIR and 11 SLW). One of the chicks was smothered at around 3 weeks old. Okay, that happens. The other 20 all matured (I received them in April) and started laying eggs. At 8 months old, everything was going well.

    Then, 2 weeks ago, one of my SLWs started wheezing. She got better for about a week, then suddenly much worse and died.

    Tonight, when I went to feed them, one of the RIRs wouldn't get off the roost. She stayed under the heat lamps (it IS 13 degrees outside, but 32 degrees inside). Her comb and wattles are very pale and she acts "sleepy" and has had progressively more watery stool. She won't drink any water and hasn't eaten. I brought her inside, thinking maybe she got chilled by a draft (the coop is about 12 x12, insulated & has elevated roosts over a pit of sand that is not accessible to the birds. It has a cement floor on which I have pine shavings. I clean the shavings and pit out every week. Their water is changed twice a day. The heat lamps are on timers and I open a small window at night for ventilation after the door closes.)

    They are not vaccinated nor medicated and eat layer feed with some scratch grain thrown down. They have oyster shell and grit available all the time in a separate dish. They used to free-range at least an hour a day before the snow came.

    What am I doing wrong? I fed them warm oatmeal with bananas and two raw eggs mixed up in it yesterday, during the blizzard, and it was about 40 degrees in the coop at that time. Was that not OK?

    Suddenly I feel like I'm failing at this and I feel bad for the birds.

  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Crowing

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Maybe you aren't doing anything wrong, grammaC. Sounds to me like you are a great chicken mom. The smothered one, as you said, that happens. Now one has some sort of respiratory ailment. I guess like people, sometimes chickens just get sick. And sometimes along comes a chicken with a weak constitution. I think you should keep a close eye on the others - it may take an antibiotic of some sort if this spreads. For now, stop beating yourself up - you are feeding and watering and even providing heat. Keep your chin up....it happens. [​IMG]
  3. cowcreekgeek

    cowcreekgeek Songster

    Sep 14, 2012
    Hurricane, WV
    It's typical, for folks that truly care for living creatures, to doubt our ability to provide the care they require, and question our every action, when things go poorly. But, they're fragile and temporary by their very design, and there's tons of stuff that's lookin' to kill 'em, or to eat 'em (including us, sometimes ~'-)

    One mistake I can see immediately: When you see any symptoms, that's the time to take action if you wish to successfully intervene ... and, that's the best way to protect the rest of your flock, as anything that is contagious needs away from your birds, as quickly as you possibly can.

    Another possible mistake, if I'm readin' this right, is that folks (like me) wish most to avoid the use of antibiotics and chemicals, but fail to take the much greater efforts required so as to minimize the increased losses they'll have to endure to some extent. I've adjusted my own practices, including the use of Amprolium when they were young, and plans to treat w/ Fenbendazole on a regular basis for internal parasites, and the use of Permethrin for lice/mites.

    I do regularly add Apple Cider Vinegar to their water at the rate of four teaspoons to each gallon (but never in galvanized metal containers), and believe everyone should for all poultry. Although they do have access to 70W of heat, they are kept dry and at most nearly whatever temperature it is outside -- that's the only way to avoid severe losses during power outages, which we suffer throughout every winter.

    SoOo ... you just keep on keepin' your flock, as best you know how, and remember that they should be thankful that they're owned by somebody that cares enough to give 'em a second thought ~'-)
  4. JodiLynn

    JodiLynn Chirping

    Jul 13, 2012
    Grammac, I think most chicken owners have been right where you are, I sure have. I bought 2 orders of chicks from different places. I have 52 and over the course of raising them we have lost one to be smothered and others to various things. We are learning as we go and quickly finding out that some chickens just get sick. Some are strong and never get sick, at a point there is little to do about this. I say keep being a good chicken mom and just keep a close eye on the rest. The best care is prevention and separating at the sight of any sickness. :)
    1 person likes this.

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