Baby Chick Weight Issues and Tube Feeding

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by CajunCluck, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. CajunCluck

    CajunCluck New Egg

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    Aug 19, 2016
    Kansas City, MO
    Hi All! I'm new here, and can't seem to find an answer to this anywhere- does anyone know how many grams a chick should gain daily? I realize there are many types of chicks, so is there a place I can look to find growth charts by breed?

    I'm asking because I have 3 week old chicks, two that were bred from a Barred Rock Roo and a Black Sex-Link, and one bread from that same Roo and a very old (6-7 years) Red Sex-Link. The two from the Black sex-link are growing fine, but the other one is nearly 1/3 their size (we call her LG, and pretend like we know she is a girl). About 3 days ago she started cheeping very loudly and did so any time she wasn't asleep. Yesterday around lunchtime, I decided to take her to the vet, I just knew something wasn't right.

    The vet examined her and asked how she eats/drinks and I told her that I had never actually seen her eat and that I had been giving her water from a dropper for several days because it seemed that she hadn't figured out how to drink from the water trough like the others. The vet told me that she is just skin and bones and that she probably has never eaten! I felt terrible, she was cheeping because she was literally starving to death!

    The vet gave me a feeding tube and showed me how to crop tube-feed and instructed me to feed her a mixture of blended up chick starter and water. She gave me no guarantees, but said this is all she could think for me to do, as the bird is teeny (probably the size that she hatched out at), and that the only way to see if she has any internal deformities would be x-rays/surgery.

    I got her home and put her in her own box to monitor her bowel movements, the vet said her little vent was so tiny, that maybe she couldn't even use the bathroom. I did the first feeding, felt her crop fill, and watched her poop about 30-45 minutes later. I was so relieved to see that at least her "pipes" are working. I was up until 1 last night feeding and watching her, I put her back in with the others and went to sleep.

    This morning, she woke up around 8 cheeping loudly, so I started her hourly feeding again. She is feisty and constantly "bullies" the other chicks so she must be feeling a little better. I just weighed her after 24 hours from her last "weigh-in" and ensured she had an empty crop, and she has gained 1 gram (27g now, she was 26g yesterday at the vet).

    So that long story brings me back to my question, how do I know if she is gaining enough weight? I don't wanted to underfill her crop, but I feel like overfilling it could be more harmful. I would love it if I could find a resource or talk to someone who is familiar with chick weight and weight gain.

    I love this little chicken and she comes right to me when I approach her brooder, so I know she understands I'm helping her even though she hates the tube and fights me (note- I am super careful inserting the tube, it's a urinary catheter, I go slowly and never force it so that I don't harm her). She has also started laying down to sleep like the other chicks do, and she had always slept standing up before the tube feeding.

    If anyone has any advice on weight/weight gain or any other advice that will help me save this little chick, I would be eternally thankful!!
     
  2. CajunCluck

    CajunCluck New Egg

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    Aug 19, 2016
    Kansas City, MO
    Here is a picture of the little chick. She loves being held![​IMG]
     
  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Understand that sometimes chicks just fail to thrive. That being said, it sounds as if she is responding to your feeding. If it were me, I would continue with frequent small feedings - hoping that eventually she will start eating on her own. Are you certain that her vision is not impaired?
     
  4. CajunCluck

    CajunCluck New Egg

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    Aug 19, 2016
    Kansas City, MO
    Thank you for getting back with me. I am certain that her vision is not impaired, she frequently pecks at the dark eyes and beaks of my baby buff silkies (I have 3 total, about 5 days older than this chick), and at specks on cardboard. She will grab tiny of droplets of water from a syringe and has pecked at some chick starter from my fingertips. I did notice that it seems like she loses sight of things when below her line of sight. I can't get her to look down at feed in my hand, or in the food dish or the water from the waterer. Maybe that's just me being paranoid and worried about her..?

    I know that she may not make it, but I feel responsible for doing as much as I can for her. That's going to be the hardest part about having these chickens, learning these lessons, but I still have hope that she pulls through this! @sourland
     
  5. CajunCluck

    CajunCluck New Egg

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    Aug 19, 2016
    Kansas City, MO
    I just wanted to give an update, however I am unsure that anyone is even reading/will read this, but in case somebody is in my same spot in the future, here is what happened....

    My chick survived!! She is alive and well and at times I cannot believe it. I know that 98% of the stories like mine end differently, but if you are out there reading this one day, know that it is possible to bring a chick back from the edge of death. I somehow "connected" with that tiny chicken...and that sounds super strange for me to read that, but it's true. I love her just like I would a cat or dog or any other pet.

    I tube-fed her crop every 1-2 hours for 4 days straight. She started at 26g and the vet told me she needed to gain 8-10g a day, well, it was more like 1 or 2g, so I was very worried. On that 4th day, after scouring the web for hours trying to find a story like mine that ended well (to no avail), I watched a video that showed a man crop-tubing baby parrots. He would dip the tube in the feed mixture before putting it to the baby's beak, and the smell of the food would stimulate the birds feeding instinct and it would swallow the tube, just like it would a worm.

    I promptly went to the brooder and I tried this nifty little trick and presto! She swallowed the tube! It wasn't a scary struggle like every single time before. I never forced the tube, but she just didn't understand what I was doing, so she would "cough" it up every time before this. I was amazed. The next day, I put some chick starter in a little bit of water, and she slowly started pecking at it. She spat it out the first few times, but then, she got the hang of it, and would spend 5-10 minutes every 2 hours eating in my lap, out of a tiny measuring cup filled with water-logged chick starter.

    I had her eating, but still could not get her to drink, so I would still crop tube feed her plain water throughout the day. I tried everything from using my finger to imitate a beak, to dipping her beak in the water throughout the day. By the 6th day since this whole ordeal began (she was almost 12 days old), I was talking to my mom on FaceTime, and showing her the chicks. She asked me if the little one had drank on her on yet and I said no. I told her that every time I would try to dip her beak in the water, that she would let out a terrible cheep and act like I was killing her. Then I said, "See...watch..!" and I dipped her beak in the water. Well, right there, on FaceTime, with my mom as my witness, that little chick just started drinking. For the first time in her life.

    She has been the most perfect little gal ever since. Aside from dealing with pasty butt twice a day for the next 5-7 days (I just soaked it with a warm cloth until clean, then applied a q-tip of Vaseline around her vent every morning and evening). She eats and drinks just like any other chicken now (nearing 5.5 weeks old) and she has begun to feather out. She weighs about 240g, only 40g behind her biggest sibling. And most importantly, she is the most grateful, sweetest little chicken I could ever ask for. She runs to me when she sees me and lowers her neck for me to scoop her up, and will lay in my arms and fall asleep all day long.

    I'm writing this to give someone else hope, that it is possible to give an ailing chick another chance to live. I know this isn't the case the majority of the time, but it CAN happen so don't give up hope! The vet told me that she would give it a 10% chance. She was shocked to hear about her comeback.

    Good luck to you all!
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016

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