Baby chicks dying


7 Years
Oct 27, 2012
We just lost the last of our babies from a disastrous hatch, and have another hen sitting on eggs, so are looking for some feedback so we might be able to do better next time! We decided to hatch after loosing one of our favorite hens, but so far have just had more grief rather than success!

We only successfully hatched two of our eggs, though we now know that this was because we let our 3 girls sit on them at once. Although we had seen lots of warnings about this, we had had success with this many years ago when we had a different group of hens, and when we had tried to separate them an egg had been broken so we figured it was better to let them be. However we noticed one being aggressive, and quickly separated her (she now has the new eggs, as she had only started sitting about a week before, so we think she will last another 3 weeks), and she probably was responsible for the chick we found dead in the nest. Several eggs didn't hatch and several others they broke in the process, which we now assume they were fighting over. The other mums calmed down as soon as she was gone and happily raised the two babies for the next few days.In fact, we even spotted one tucking the baby she was caring for under the other mums wing so that she could go stretch and drink etc! all seemed to be going very well!

But here is where we need some advice. One chick had pasty bum, which we cleaned, but it didn't thrive, and did not grow while the other did. When it was 1 week old my mum found it falling over in the cage, with the mothers pecking at it. It was breathing funny, and doing a funny hiccuping type movement. Mum feed it some sugar water, and held it as it died. The other chick seemed all full of life. Eating and running around the cage as happy as could be, and growing lots. Yet the next day, half an hour after it had been perfectly fine, we saw it doing the same thing, and it also died, deteriorating very quickly.

Was there anything we could have done to help it? Could this be to do with diet (could they have choked on something?). The mums had the scaly leg mite a while back, and perhaps that could still be present, would that kill chicks? We looked at the dead chick, and although we don't know much about chick anatomy, it seemed to be swollen near the top of its chest, do they have heart attacks? or did we just have really bad luck? Now we are nervous rather than anticipating the next hatch!

Thanks in advance for any insight!
Stress during incubation, or anything genetic could have been a factor, maybe it had a blocked crop from eating to much or eating straw or wood flakes? I ordered chicks and when i got them i dipped there beaks to make sure they could drink and i had 2 that in the first week never grew at all. And then they passes away a week apart.
Too much food would definitely explain it, with one baby and two mums they were constantly finding it things to eat!

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