chick death

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by lkm24, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. lkm24

    lkm24 In the Brooder

    Mar 10, 2008
    Hi! We got a batch of chicks on Friday, and by this morning, 17 of the 18 were dead. We're trying to figure out why. Our newly built coop is small, snug and insulated, and we have an infrared suspended over the chicks' 1-foot high box.

    They were on paper towels over pine shavings, then just on pine shavings. The 8-12 who survived the first day were eating and drinking well, were active and bright-eyed.

    We are wondering if--despite the fact that we brought the heat directly under the infrared to 95, if they were too cold or died of the drafts from when we opened the door. We are in upstate New York on a very frigid and windy mountain, and temperatures outside have been down to 10 or so, with high winds.

    We're getting a new batch in a couple of weeks, which we're planning to move to the somewhat heated basement so the temperature around them isn't so cold or variable. (How warm would the overall temp in the basement need to be, I wonder?)

    I would deeply appreciate hearing from the experienced chick-raisers among you if you think temperature is the most likely culprit. None of books or instructions we read told us that they needed to be in a heated room if they are raised in the winter.

    And... I hope the exposed position of our coop, which took us months to build, won't kill off adult chickens too! This is a hardy breed (Chanteclers), so I hope not.

    Thank you so much in advance!

  2. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

    Oct 13, 2007
    Hi Laura,
    Most of us keep the chicks inside till they're fully feathered.
    I bet it did get too cold for them out there.

    Sorry for your losses.
  3. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    In those frigid temps if the chicks were from a hatchery and where shipped they may have gotten too cold during shipping. I would contact the point of origin for the chicks and let them know 17 died. This is one reason why I never order chicks before May. It is just too cold and often the chicks do not survive in the colder climates.

    Also keep in mind that loss of chicks very early on is considered common. The life expectancy is around 50% - 60% that a chick will make it to one year of age. They do die for no particular reason.

    I am sorry you have lost so many.
  4. I'm in upstate NY too, and I can't imagine getting temps warm enough in a coop outside. It's just too cold. It was probably fine right under the lamp, but way too cold outside of it. Drafts may have been a problem, too. I'd keep your next batch inside next time until they are feathered out. Sorry for your loss. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2008
  5. lkm24

    lkm24 In the Brooder

    Mar 10, 2008
    Thanks so much for the very helpful advice. I appreciate your sympathies too. Seeing the chicks die one after the other really hurt.

    What would be an okay general room temperature for the new chicks (in addition to the infrared lamp)? We have one room that might work that's usually kept at 55 or so. Should it be warmer?

    And once the chicks are feathered out and seem hardy, do you think it will be okay to keep them in an unheated (but insulated) coop? And is a breezy location okay for them to range in?

    Thanks again - and best wishes for your flocks!

  6. I'm using a spare room and, because of frugality, it's around 57F. I set my incubator up in there and bought a cheap but heavy duty heater from TSC (for $20). I'm keeping the room at a constant 68F for the eggs, and I plan to keep it the same for the chicks. I don't think they need it super-warm, but I wasn't comfortable with anything under 65F. That's just me personally, though. [​IMG]

    Once they are totally feathered out, they should be fine. I'm probably going to put my flock out in early to mid-May, which should be fine AS LONG AS IT STOPS SNOWING!!!! [​IMG] My area gets really windy sometimes! Crazy WNY...
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2008
  7. lkm24

    lkm24 In the Brooder

    Mar 10, 2008
    Thanks Lisa - glad to hear that at least fully feathered chickens can manage our windy, frigid conditions. Yeah--enough with the snow & 50 mph polar winds!

    Again, I really appreciate help from you & other experienced chicken people. I hope our next venture has a happy ending, not a tragic one.

  8. mhoward92

    mhoward92 Songster

    Oct 5, 2007
    yup i would say it was a little chilly for them yet. This time keep them in your basement with the heatlamp still and wait until they are 6-8 weeks old before you put them back out in the coop outside.
  9. Quote:My neighbor has bantams and they are out ALL winter long. They seem to like the snow, lol! Crazy chickens! His are mostly Japanese bantams. My daughter's friend's dad has lots of RIRs and leghorns and they do great, too. No worries! There are more brutal climates than ours and the chickens still thrive. They are tough old birds! [​IMG]
  10. skeeter9

    skeeter9 Songster

    So sorry for your loss, Laura. Don't feel too bad - we all make mistakes, especially when we're just learning.

    The room my brooder is in stays around 58 degrees. They have a red heat lamp and I have never had any problem with them chilling. They are always up playing around and having a big time! Even when they sleep, they don't huddle in the warmest part of the brooder, so I don't think you have to keep the room especially warm. Once you have them settled in, you'll be able to tell by watching them if they are comfortable or not.

    Best of luck with your next shipment.


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