average mortality rate of few days old chicks


9 Years
May 30, 2010
Fair Oaks, CA
I have been raising chicks for 6 months now and find that at least 1 or 2 die each go round...this time I have only 2 in the brooder brought them home Sunday, the Australorp was a few days older/bigger than the Jersey Giant and the JG was maybe 3 days old. The JG is failing as I write. I think I am doing everything right, but maybe I am overlooking something. Feeding them Nutrena medicated starter, with a little water in it to make it easier. Brooder temp kept at 95 1st week, and down 5 degrees weekly thereafter. Pine shavings. Clean water as needed/daily. Stuffed animal for comfort. I get all kinds of crazy thoughts when one starts dying..maybe I have a held her too much or too little, is there a chemical or gas in the house that affects them. Is the tap water too chlorinated? I gave watered down Poly-vi-sol no iron yesterday when I noticed she was slipping. When I brought her home she was sooo fiesty and great-I had no worries. No pasty butts or anything. Now I am going to have one lonely chick. Time to go back to the feed store I guess. Anyone have chicks for sale??

Well the point of my post, is do you all have the same mortality rate? If not, what are you doing that I'm not??? It breaks my heart to watch them die slowly and just lay there on their side like that helpless.
This is my first time with chicks, but knock on wood, I still have the 12 that I started with 2 weeks ago. I got them from Welp as day old chicks. I bought Quik-chik from McMurray and have been putting it in their water. (I have well water) I handle them everyday, and give them some treats: mealworms, crickets, cream of wheat and watermelon so far. I am sorry for your losses, maybe someone else will have answers for you. I wonder if it is harder with certain breeds, there is a woman on another thread that has had horrible luck with silkies.
HMMM. You have them in the house? Do you cook with non-stick pans or appliances? The fumes those give off when heated above a certain temperature can be fatal to birds. I gave away all my non-stick pans when I got birds because I wasn't going to take even the slightest risk over something like that since it was something I could easily change.

I've never moistened food for any baby birds. You really don't need to. Make sure it's ground finely enough.
Unfortunately, there does seem to be about an average 10-15% (this is just based off of my experiences, note, not any detailed scientific surveys or anything) mortality rate in the first week or so of a chick's life. After that, they get sturdier and the mortality rate goes down. Keep in mind some birds will be born with deformities or internal problems even if we can't see them, some of them don't have as strong of immune systems as others, and (especially for feed store and hatchery chicks) they've already been through a lot and sometimes it's just too much for them. It's always sad losing a chick, but it does seem to be inevitable that a certain amount of them just don't have what it takes to survive. It's possible there's some factor in your house or care that's killing them, but to me it sounds like you're doing things right and it's probable that the losses you've had are things beyond your control.

I'm sorry about the JG chick! I'm near Sacramento, but unfortunately I don't have any spare chicks... Just seven I plan on keeping and raising. I hope you find a friend for your lonely baby soon! If you don't find one on BYC or at the feed store, you could try posting on Craigslist. Good luck!
I am about to put the hex on myself. I have been very fortunate in that I have not lost any peeps. 100% success brooding some 100 chicks over the years, most of it done in the late '70s early '80s. I got back into it for my Grandson with commercial hatchery chicks, with some reservation, all survived and are very healthy. I am not an expert at brooding, but as "they" say, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. I don't want to deal with that sinking feeling of finding a dead peep buried under the shavings. But I am sure it will come one day. Maybe next Spring, will see. 50 birds coming.
I too have been lucky enough to not lose a chick, yet. I've lost some in the shells that never hatched, but once they hatched they have been good to go. My first time I had feed store chicks, then I started hatching my own.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1. 95 is too hot. I've noticed that my day old hatchlings prefer 85 degrees, then I decrease 5 degrees each week. I know lots of people here swear by 95, but in my experience, it's just too hot.

2. Make sure they can get away from the heat. It's critical that if they do get overheated that they can get away from it.

3. Make sure water is available all the time. Not just in the food.

4. It's possible that your feed store doesn't care for the chicks properly and that's why they are dying on you. I think I'd try switching feed stores if possible.

5. Other things: Do you see them eating? Do you dip their beaks in water to show them where it is?
Yeah, I show them where to get their water by putting their beaks in, and they seem to eat great the 1st couple days then-by now I can pretty much tell who's not going to make it. My little JG "JetPak" (my son named her) passed last night.
Here are answers to some of the questions/suggestions: Yes, I use some non-stick pans, but mostly cast iron. Still a good point to consider...they are kept in the kitchen area. I have noticed that the feed store I go to has many chicks in each brooder and the smaller ones get trampled when you reach in to grab one. Also, usually some sick ones in each brooder. They get their chicks from Belt Hatchery in Fresno,CA. But they do have a big selection all year round, and for the most part all have been healthy. The brooder I have them in large and they can get away from the heat. But Iwill start playing around with the temps and see if that helps. Water is always clean, fresh and available.

They sell "quik-chik" vitamins for their water, wonder if that would help any. Also, I need a tapeworm wormer for my bigger girls, have seen segments in my 2 Spitzhaubens poop. Any suggestions since I'm going to the feed store this morning to get a buddy for Elvira. She is just beside herself. Peeping constantly and Loud! Cream of wheat is different, maybe I will try that. It seems that when I give them treats they avoid it like the plague!

Thanks for all your kind words and I think getting this reassurance and these tips are so important for newbies because it can be so frustrating. But I love having little chicks around, eases my gnawing need for having another baby! I wouldn't want to give up on them yet.
I mixed up cream of wheat (cook kind - not instant) with milk and they loved it. Not sure if it was the soupy texture or the fact that it was warm. But at 1 week old they went crazy for it. I think it's their favorite so far besides the mealworms and tiny crickets!

Maybe you should look for another place to buy your chicks, if the ones at your feed store don't look so great.

Take care and I hope you find a buddy for Elvira.
By non-stick, I'm not talking about regular cast iron. Non-stick refers to things like Teflon -- the coating that can flake off if you use the wrong utensils. This stuff is dangerous for birds. Regular cast iron isn't a problem. (Then again, maybe you have cast iron pans coated with Teflon. Never seen anything like that but it may exist.)

If you are seeing sick birds in the brooder at the feed store, then honestly, I wouldn't buy from them. I'd find another source. It may be something that is a problem before they ever get to you. They could have disease contamination and be exposed to something before you ever bring them home.

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