Chick mortality rates - what do I do?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by jmartin0411, May 13, 2016.

  1. jmartin0411

    jmartin0411 Out Of The Brooder

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    This is my first year raising chicks from young ages, and so far I've not had the greatest success. We started with two lf buff brahmas, and lost one. Got 14 lf light brahmas and lost five, and recently got 3 cuckoo marans and 3 mix straight runs, and I've lost two all of these to illness. I cannot figure out if it is disease or possibly vitamin e deficiency? All of the chicks tend to get weak and listless, depressed and then die. No respiratory symptoms, all healthy poop the whole time, eat and drink. It seems they have purely neuro
    symptoms and depression. I have cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. They get fresh water and food every day with washings of the water bowl and food bowl between feedings. Fresh pine shavings daily. I keep mine on heat lamp until 4 weeks (unless they start flying, then I'm forced to move them outside). The remainder of my lf brahmas are fine, they are all outside and are now about 7 weeks old and I'm beginning to sex them out. But I'm down to the two cuckoo marines and a black copper maran (pretty sure) inside and am just praying they're going to be fine. One is for sure a cockerel and he is doing beautifully, and the black copper baby seems fine, the other seemed a little down and out last night but seems fine this morning.

    Thoughts?
    What can I do to ensure this doesn't happen in the future. We lost three brahmas and one of the mix run babies to what we have now figured out is one of our dogs who is now being rehomed. He literally tore the wire to our run apart. I had hoped so badly it was a predator we didn't know about, but alas.

    Anyways, what can I do to increase my living chick ratio?
     
  2. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You need information. Should you have the unfortunate luck to lose another chick, send it off to your state veterinary diagnostic lab for necropsy. Hopefully the results will give you the information you need to make necessary changes. Or give you information about circumstances that perhaps you cannot change, but can plan for (such as endemic disease like Marek's on your property).
     
  3. jmartin0411

    jmartin0411 Out Of The Brooder

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    Would Marek's not be something in the soil? I have used new housing for each batch of chicks. twice plastic and once metal.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    What is your brooder set up? How big is it? How many chicks typically in there? What is the temp under the lamp? What is the temp at the other end of the brooder? Where are your chicks coming from? The one thing that you say that gives me cause for concern is that you move them out of the brooder when they start flying. Chicks sprout their flight feathers at 2 weeks. At that age, they can fly pretty well, but they still need heat.

    Are you using medicated feed? Depending on your answers to above questions, the only recommendations I can make are: You might want to consider switching to a heating pad brooder, and I highly recommend that you try fermented feed. The behavior you mention could be related to chicks being chilled, especially if you move them outside without ANY heat before 4 - 5 weeks old, perhaps the chicks are too warm. There could be something toxic in their environment, even air born. (It may be just enough to affect the weakest ones)
     
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  5. jmartin0411

    jmartin0411 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much.

    Since I have smaller numbers, I don't have a large brooder set up. I first tried large plastic bins with no lids inside our spare bedroom with heat lamps. The lamp covers those pretty well without much loss of heat from one end to the other. Temperature maintains in the mid/high 80's so they're definitely warm. We only moved two outside for flying reasons, and both thrived outside. On the first batch I had the plastic bins with 7 chicks, we lost four in that set up and I honestly considered suffocation on the first two because they all would pile atop one another to sleep. But then number three occurred. The cuckoos and mix runs I have had in a metal wash basin roughly 2 feet across with wire across the top and the heat lamp. Temperatures maintained about the same. We are not feeding medicated feed. I have gotten all but our first two from a breeder nearby who seems to have great stock, great hatch rates and their chicks thrive with them.
     
  6. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Good morning, welcome to byc.

    I am sorry for all the trouble you've had! The other 2 posters gave you great suggestions already.

    I was also thinking about recommending fermented feed. It's worth looking into since it sounds like you aren't scared to put in a little extra effort. I would say you could do occasional electrolytes or acv water. And if you decide to do FF, it won't work with medicated feed, though I'm sure you would have discovered that when you look into it,

    I thinking loosing an occasional chick might be normal (I haven't yet). But you definitely seem to be having a problem. I'm not sure if it could be a vitamin deficiency but if you're feeding a starter feed, it should have all the nutrients they need assuming you aren't overdoing treats.

    I don't think a necropsy is very expensive. Especially compared to the cost of chick replacements and the emotional toll the loss is taking on you. It may be your best tool to solve this.

    Best wishes!
     
  7. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I just saw the part about your dog, and I think you are wrong for rehoming it! If a dog can get in, so can so many other predators and it won't be your last loss to that reason. Your dog, not someone else's, on your own property. The dog did what any other dog would do who didn't realize they weren't prey. I always know it's a possibility one of my dogs could get one of my chickens. I'm guessing your dog might be a back yard ornament and not a part of your family or it wouldn't be so easy to just ditch it. Chickens aren't being put to sleep by the thousands because their human just decided their life was worthless. I bet your dog LOVES you! Your chickens like you, but they could care less if it was you or someone else bringing snacks. It was your responsibility to protect your chickens and YOUR dog. Don't fail them both! Have some compassion.

    Am I passionate? You bet! Our local shelter (where I used to live) put down 3000 animals per year. Three thousand! And that was only 1 shelter in 1 town.

    Still, best wishes!
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. jmartin0411

    jmartin0411 Out Of The Brooder

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    Well goodness lol. Yes our dog is a part of our family. We tried integrating him with our indoor dogs and they won't have it. He BROKE the entire fencing off the frame with bolts every 6 inches. I'm not sure how else to bolt a fence?? BUT our dog isn't just going to be ditched. Thanks. He will be going to live with my mother in law, who can bring him inside and give him more time and energy and doesn't have prey animals. He is deaf and he has predator instincts. I have a two year old and a farm to take care of. Excuse me for not being made of three people and endless energy. This was meant to be about my chicks, not my pup, but I promise, I have his best interests at heart.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. jmartin0411

    jmartin0411 Out Of The Brooder

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    I am definitely going to try fermented feed since it seems to be a very highly recommended way of feeding babies! Looking up guides now. I've also moved our remaining chick to a different container until I can sanitize the brooder and will be getting new food and water bowl today for him. The hard part now is he is alone.
     
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    You should not be losing that many chicks. Your brooder set is likely the culprit and far too hot for them. If a small brooder you need little heat. A 60-75W incandescent bulb is more than sufficient for plastic totes. The idea is to only heat a part of the brooder, keep heat to one side so they have escape from it if too hot. With small brooders much attention to this detail is needed as heat lamps are far too much heat. If they are raised 2 ft in air to compensate then the entire brooder is same heat leaving no cooler area for birds to escape to. Listless chicks is symptom of too much heat.
     
    4 people like this.

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