Arrested development?


9 Years
Dec 1, 2010
Correze, France
I have one chick out of an incubator-hatched batch of nine that isn't growing. Its siblings are thriving. They are four to five weeks old and with a foster mum.; they were put with her a couple of days after hatching. She's one of our ever-reliable Coucou de France hens so hasn't slacked in looking after the chicks. This one has grown its wing and tail feathers - and then just stopped.
Currently it's in a breeder with two twelve-days old chicks who are about the same size (one is a Sussex, the other a Maran + Coucou cross); it's feeding and drinking and foraging around happily. Any ideas why is isn't growing?
They're getting the French equivalent of grower food; also whatever they forage in the run plus whatever grains I chuck in.

As to genetics...I think it's a Limousine, it certainly has the vulturine head; all the others are growing well. If it was the incubator and all were the same, I could blame that (somehow) but they were all hatched within two or three days of each and all with the foster mum in a couple of days.
Hi brownysfp,

unfortunately there are many things that can cause a chick to fail to thrive. Runting-stunting syndrome is one illness where the bird doesn't grow properly (I gather it's caused by a combination of a virus and heat treated mealed feeds). Coccidiosis is another common cause of failure to thrive, and of course there could be a congenital gut problem (though that's probably rarer). An infection with e. coli could cause low growth rate, as could marek's. And of course mould toxins in feed could also cause it.

I guess what each of the above have in common is that they stop the digestive system working properly to absorb nutrients. For instance in runting-stunting syndrome, the gizzard is often eroded, and if looked at in autopsy, the join between gizzard and proventriculus (the widened tube just before the gizzard) is often slack and overly wide. All this means that food isn't passing properly through the digestive system, and/or it's not breaking down properly to release its nutrients. Then there may be intestinal lining irritation so that even if the food is being broken down, the nutrients aren't properly picked up.

Given all the above, it's difficult to suggest a treatment. Perhaps you could try giving probiotics (e.g. kefir) to try to improve digestive health. Or you could try antibiotics first (then probiotics) if you're that way inclined (in case it's e. coli). Perhaps you could use a combination of added vitamins, probiotics and a feed change (e.g. make up batches of fresh food ground in a blender so they're more easily absorbed). Unfortunately the fact remains that birds that don't grow properly as chicks usually never thrive.

I hope you get somewhere with this one, apologies for a long and rather downbeat post.

You said it sweetheart already, its from a different stock of birds different stock different genes. It will catch up as long as it is drinking and eating and not getting beat up and fitting in then there is not problem. You can have a set of siblings that may grow at different rates. We are all special in our own way enjoy them.
I'm going to ask some basic questions:

1. Is there enough feeder space considering the number of birds; often a smaller or more timid bird will be the last to eat. Is there still enough feed and time to eat before momma moves off to another area?

2. Is enough water available? A thirsty bird eats less food.

3. Cut out the scratch?; the little one needs all the quality feed it can get. Scratch decreases the intake of high quality feed.

4. Where does the little one sleep? Is it warm in the middle of the group or under momma hen or on the edge? A great deal of energy can be used to keep warm.

I often feed my chicks electrolytes and yogurt mixed with crumbles. GL

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