Brand new chicks drooping and dying

RiverOtter

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 4, 2009
1,199
1,995
361
NY
I just got 150 babies from Ideal on Friday. They should have come Thursday, but they seemed ok on arrival, 4 fading but the rest ok.

Overnight we lost 11. Everyone had their beaks dipped and a good drink on arrival. They got grogel and Dumor feed out of the same bag that my 3 week old home bred chicks (housed in a different barn) were eating.

We chalked it up to shipping stress, but at the oon Saturday check, 3 more were gone. All the rest of the day Saturday we observed them closely. Poops are normal, they are warm and not piling. They are in a brooder room that hasn't been used in 2 years. I cleaned and bleached it, let it air for 2 days, put a sprinkle of barn lime on the floor and a small amount of pine livestock shavings.

The babies will seem active and normal, then take a widelegged stance with their wings spread and slightly drooping. They seem off-balance. They have empty crops when we see them like this and some are dehydrated. They refuse food but will drink when their beaks are dipped or when given a drop from a q-tip.
But no matter how much TLC, they soon seize and die.

There are too many to catch them when they first stop eating, the first symptom we can see is that stance.
There is NO pasty butt or loose poo or anything that says cocci. We've lost 21 since getting them Friday morning (counting those nearly gone on arrival)
I'd think any that were going to die of shipping stress would have done it in the first 36 hours, but we're past that and losing them in this weird way.

Any ideas? Please?
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Grateful
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
45,528
79,432
1,462
Wisconsin
Is there anything in the water? Sometimes chicks arrive with low blood sugar from being in the box so long. Some use electrolytes, I personally put some brown sugar in my water, 1 teaspoon to 1 quart for some quick energy. When they have low blood sugars they will be weak and confused and won't necessarily eat. That's the first thing I would do and see if it helps. I usually use this for 1-3 days.

What are you using for heat? What's the temperature? Some bulbs have a Teflon coating that is toxic so make sure that you aren't using it.

Heat can kill quickly, so make sure your chicks aren't too hot and that they can get away from the heat. I usually go 85-90 degrees that first week.
 

RiverOtter

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 4, 2009
1,199
1,995
361
NY
Thank you OldHenLikesDogs.

I dipped their beaks in sugar water on arrival and for the first day I gave water with approx 2 tablespoons of white sugar for a soda bottle's worth of water.

They are under a large, commercial-type floor brooder with 3 red bulbs made for the purpose. There is room for all of them under there and the temp varies from 90 in the warmest spot (off center) to 75 at the very edge.
Most bodies have been found near the warmest spot, but none of the chicks are panting or sleeping stretched flat out. They seem happy and running about, returning to the hot spot to nap.
At first I wondered if some might be cool and not leaving it to eat or drink, but I put in another waterer right next to it and moved a feeder closer to it and it seemed to make no difference.
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
59,667
51,399
1,302
southern Ohio
Sorry about your new chicks. How many days were they in transit? If they were due the day before, they are probably still dying of shipping stress. It can be common to lose them to stress for a week. Make sure that you don’t have any with pasty butt, or clean them off once a day. That can happen for the first 10 days. That is a whopping number of chicks to have to catch and care for. SaveAChick electrolytes with vitamins is good to put in the water, and I would use Poultry NutriDrench if you wanted to treat any individually with a few oral drops. Are they using a regular water or a nipple waterer? I would let the hatchery know when you stop losing them to get replacements right away. Hopefully, they were stressed from the extra day, and I hope that you don’t keep losing more. Sometimes this happens, and is the reason I try to order from the nearest hatchery to me, so I get them with overnight shipping. The post office is not as efficient in getting chicks delivered as quickly as they once did.
 

RiverOtter

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 4, 2009
1,199
1,995
361
NY
Thank you Eggcessive (great name btw)

It is a lot, and it's the first time I've had so many. Fifty was the most I raised before, but I now have the room and lucked into this lovely floor brooder and I've generally had such good luck before ... Sigh.

If it is still shipping stress, is there anything I can do that I'm not already?

I will call the hatchery when they open tomorrow. Ideal has always been good to deal with. My last birds from them, 30 Wyandottes, I didn't lose any. But when I ordered bantams, they nearly all passed. I think it's just too far, such a shame as they're the only place with some of the breeds I want, but perhaps I should just hatch my own from now on :(

Oh, regular waterers, not nipple types. And a couple of tuna cans because for whatever reason some chicks are happier to drink out of those than anything else.
 
Last edited:

oldhenlikesdogs

Grateful
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
45,528
79,432
1,462
Wisconsin
3 days seems to be the most they can sit in that box and still recover. I agree it does sounds like stress. It is a bit cooler now too so you can have losses from the chilling. I don't know how you are taking care of so many. I would go bonkers. My biggest order is usually around 20-25.

Bantams do have a harder time surviving shipping. It's all about that absorbed yolk and how long they can be sustained on it.

Definitely call the hatchery and see what they say.
 

RiverOtter

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 4, 2009
1,199
1,995
361
NY
I AM going bonkers!!

No bantams this time, but some Polish who are dropping at a much higher rate than the rest (assorted heavy pullets) I mentioned them because that was the only time I've lost them like this :(

These guy left the hatchery Tuesday and got here Friday, so definitely pushing that limit.
 

RiverOtter

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 4, 2009
1,199
1,995
361
NY
No bodies this morning, but one little BR drooping. She drank when I dipped her beak and went into the middle of the pile of sleepy babies so hoping she pulls through. She'll be the first to do so if she does. I pulled the others to a hospital cage to try to keep them drinking, but it did no good so this little one will stay in the main brooder and get checked on there.

I've lost 31 and am pretty heartbroken about it, those poor babies. Financially it's a blow too. Not so much now but that's a lot less point-of-lay birds to sell and less layers for my own flock and farmers market season. The weather's gotten nasty here, I wouldn't try again and stress/kill more babies :(

I sent an email to Ideal, emails let you spell out all the details clearly and I feel bad calling, Monday has to be their least favorite day.
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
33,030
27,592
1,077
St. Louis, MO
My first guess is shipping stress and going too long without food and water. Tuesday through Friday without hydration and nutrition is the likely cause - especially since you haven't lost any today.
 

RiverOtter

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 4, 2009
1,199
1,995
361
NY
Ideal got back to me very quickly and said it sounded like shipping stress. They offered a refund or to ship out more chicks at no cost (I've heard some hatcheries will replace chicks but charge for shipping) and I thanked them for a refund.
There's nothing either them or I could do to prevent another bad trip and I can't take the thought of more passing
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom