any idea why this chick just died? i need help

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
i have 14 1 week olds in the brooder in the kitchen.

i just came home to find one "sleeping" with it's head in the food dish with the others stomping all over it. I realized it was gasping for breath. I quickly pulled out all the others and left this one under the heat lamp while i mixed up some sugar water, dipped it's beak in. at first it tried drinking, but after a few dips it stopped swallowing. I put it back under the heat, walked away for a minute and came back to it convulsing on the floor, a whitish yellow discharge came out of it's bum, and it stopped breathing.

what happened? they were all thriving when i left this morning! this one has been growing well and has feathers starting. it's a week old today.

did i do something wrong? i've been feeding medicated feed, probiotics and electrolytes.i have a layer of newspaper in the cage, with a layer of shredded paper bag, and a layer of paper towels over that. twice a day i'm replacing paper towels and taking out any shredded paper that feels wet. i have a red heat bulb and the brooder measures 80 at the middle. always a few chicks in the heat and some away, i moved it up a little last night because no one was under the lamp.

yesterday, because the oldests hit a week yesterday evening, i started feeding some scrambled yolk. i also transported them all for the first time yesterday when i took them to show at my son's school. the heat lamp was off for an hour, with a blanket over the top, the heat dropped to 60 before we got back. maybe i let them get too cold?

help me please, if it's a mistake i made please tell me.
 

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
maybe this one wasn't strong enough to handle the car ride and drop in temp yesterday? i'm so worried about losing any more.
 

Chilali

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 8, 2014
35
1
24
At 1 week old the temp should be at LEAST 85 in the warmest spot and it's not wise to take any chick that young away from the heat for more than a few minutes. Transportation is very stressful to them. Please don't take this as mean, but it's irresponsible to take such young chicks to show off at a school when they NEED to be in a temperature-controlled brooder. I can't say whether the temperature had anything to do with the one chick's death, but I would strongly advise adjusting the brooder temperature and not taking the survivors away from the brooder unless strictly necessary. If you're worried about not having a nice cooler spot for any to go if they get too warm, you can move the heat lamp off to one side. I personally use a rectangular brooder with the heat lamp a few inches from one of the short ends so that the far side is significantly cooler than the lamp side. Make sure you're providing chick-sized grit if you're feeding anything other than chick starter, too.
 

cstronks

Songster
6 Years
Mar 12, 2013
747
89
166
New Jersey
Ok, so to answer the "Did I do something wrong part"...yes. Chicks are pretty fragile. They absolutely need to retain heat at all times until some form of feathering begins. While they may look fuzzy and warm, they are not. Chilali says the warmest spot must be a minimum of 85, but I would take that as high as 90. Warmth is essential to life for chickens. Once their body temperature drops, their immune system is helpless to defend them. I would not remove these chickens from the brooder again, until they are of proper age.

There is some good news though. You have 14, and one appeared to be weak and died. This can't necessarily be blamed on the actions you took yesterday in moving the chicks in cold weather. I will assume that it was, but it could have been other causes. Sometimes chicks just die. I have had extremely healthy chicks show no signs of sickness or weakness, and then suddenly they are dead. It is the same with newly hatched chicks. Some hatch and are walking around immediately after, and then they are dead. Providing that you continue proper care, you should have the other 13 live happy and healthy. Death in chicks happens though, but it is not always a sign that you did something wrong. I wish all chicks would make it, but unfortunately that isn't the case. Best of luck to you!
 

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
Thanks for the help. A hard lesson, and I feel just terrible. I certainly wasn't trying to be irresponsible, the children have been tracking the progress of the chicks and I thought that since they were growing feathers they would be able to handle a 10 minute ride. As they go back to the farm next week I simply wanted to share the educational experience.

A few questions while i have you here:

1- I have the light off to one side, and the thermometer is in the middle of the brooder. I just went and measured with my husbands highly accurate lazer thermometer and I found varying temps.The middle reads 80 degrees, directly under the light reads 122 degrees, and the coldest corner reads 60 degrees. Where am I supposed to situate the thermometer to get an accurate read?

2- for their trip to the farm next week, how can I keep them from getting too cold again? Yesterday when I transported them I unplugged the heat lamp and covered it and the brooder with a think blanket and put the heat on in the car. I was thinking the brooder was already warm, the bulb would still put out a little heat for awhile and the blanket would hold heat in. But, like I said, by the time I got them home the thermometer in the brooder had dropped to almost 60. I certainly don't want to do that to them again and stress them out before they move to their new home! If you purchase them at the feed store how do you keep them warm until they get home?

3- feeding-I was going on the suggestion I found on here about feeding them yolk. I thought yolk was one of the few things I could feed without feeding them grit. I also read that people don't give them grit so young, and I wasn't planning on giving it to them before I bring them back to the farm, do I need to?

Thank you everyone for your help.
 

jonalisa

Codswallop!
6 Years
May 28, 2013
674
272
211
NH
My Coop
My Coop
Hi starkist, sorry for all this, I know it must be hard.
Just to clarify, these are not your chicks, but belong to a farm? I don't understand why a farm would give you chicks to brood and expect you to transport them so young. Am I understanding this correctly?
 

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
Haha, no, I took home eggs to hatch with my children to teach them about life cycles. I'm a teacher, now stay-at-home mom. I've done it with my classroom every year but we would only keep the chicks through hatching and they would go right back to the farm. This time, since I did it with my own children I wanted to keep them until they were older so my kids could watch them grow up, so this is my first time with a brooder (I did have chickens as a kid, but I really don't remember the brooder part)

Of course, these chicks are awfully cute! We're getting attached (as I knew we would) and are hoping to keep a few (as I knew we would!) So I've been on here soaking up as much info as possible, and scouring Craigslist for a coop. This is addicting!

Although after the death this morning I'm not sure I can handle it!
 

jonalisa

Codswallop!
6 Years
May 28, 2013
674
272
211
NH
My Coop
My Coop
So you aren't transporting to the farm next week?
Sorry, just realized you have 14... I get it now. I still think it is risky to be traveling with them so young.

How many will you keep?
 
Last edited:

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
I can bring them back to the farm whenever I need to. The farmer said by 2-3 weeks they'd probably be too big for my brooder, so I'll be bringing them back then. We're thinking about keeping 3 to raise for eggs, but the rest will need to be transported to the farm. the farm is about 15 minutes from home.
 

starkist72

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 10, 2014
97
4
48
How do people transport them when they buy them in a store? Do they sell a heat pad to bring home with them? Could I make a heat pad or something like that?
 
Top Bottom