Chick that never learned how to eat

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ochochicas, Nov 21, 2015.

  1. ochochicas

    ochochicas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chick is 8 days old and has not shown any interest in learning how to eat. I will give a quick summary of his life so far.

    He hatched last weekend and had a leg injury. His leg was splinted and he had to spend 4 days in a chick chair so his leg could heal. While he was in the chair he got water from and eye dropper and I had to feed him by hand. He would not eat on his own because he hated being in the chair so much. The great news is that he is out of the chair and bandages and can walk perfectly fine now.

    The bad new is that he never learned how to eat on his own. Is it too late for him? He will eat if I put food in his mouth, but will not seek it out on his own. I've put him in a small brooder with some very mellow silkie chicks in an attempt to have them teach the chick how to eat and drink. I've weighed him every day and he's barely getting enough food to maintain himself. He has not gained any weight since he hatched. He seems to be a bit developmentally "delayed" but has started to preen himself, walk around more, etc.

    Is there something I can do to encourage him to eat? I dip his beak in water and put food up to him and he just doesn't know what to do. I'm hoping it isn't too late for him to figure it out.
     
  2. Bridebeliever

    Bridebeliever Chillin' With My Peeps

    Bummer. I think that there are things that we do to intervene that save a chick that probably should have died. Kind of a natural selection situation. We experienced that with one of our parakeets that should've died. It had a deformed foot and the mother keet quit feeding it. I intervened and fed it on a schedule and returned it to the mother. Well he survived with his messed up foot but was smaller than all the others and still only lived for 3 years. I think birds in particular are like this. It's why so many are born in a clutch, only the strongest survive.
    I say all of this to say, do what you can, have the food available to the chick but if it doesn't do it on its own it may not be supposed to live.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    This chick has imprinted on you as its mama hen. I doubt it will learn from the other chicks, but it should be kept with them since that's the best environment.

    So, mama hen, you need to take this chick and put some crumbles down and then place the chick where it can see them. Then "peck" at the crumbles with your finger, while scratching and rearranging the crumbles, back and forth. You want to awaken the instinct in the chick to scratch and peck.

    Do it for a few minutes several times a day until the chick begins to scratch and peck and eat.

    You might get some live meal worms to make the game even more interesting.
     
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  4. Bridebeliever

    Bridebeliever Chillin' With My Peeps

    Great advice and very true! I had to do that with a couple of my chicks...(I forgot). They become very interested when you "peck" at the floor.
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Years ago, here at BYC, someone posted a very sweet video of a little chick who hatched blind. The problem was how to teach this blind chick to eat. She spread out some crumbles, placed the chick in the midst of them and proceeded to scratch and peck with her finger.

    All the chick had going for it was its hearing, but it quickly picked up on the sound of scratching and it soon was mimicking the scratching sound with its own feet. And soon it was pecking at the crumbles and eating them.

    I wonder if that video is still around.
     
  6. ochochicas

    ochochicas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Thank you. I have been trying to get him to eat this way. At first he was too unbalanced to bend down to eat, but I'm pretty sure he's 90% mobile now and should be able to eat on his own. I will get a plastic lid with crumbles and try to teach him to peck. He does it a little bit but doesn't understand the eating part. I'm not willing to give up on him yet. And yes, he is one of those chicks that wouldn't have survived in the wild. However, there were problems with my incubator towards the end of incubation due to a power outage, so I think he would have been "normal" if he had hatched with a broody hen and all the variables were regulated by the hen.
     
  7. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    Hi, [​IMG]
    Ok, so he need time to learn to eat and you are not sure he will get it if he doesn't start to eat soon. So, go to Tractor Supply and buy the smallest bottle of Poultry Nutri-Drench. It doesn't need to be digested and will give the chick the nutrients it needs for energy while it is learning how to eat. http://www.nutridrench.com Great stuff.
    Just follow the directions on the bottle. All Natural, measureable in the bloodstream in 30 minutes. It will also jumpstart the chick's immune system.
    Best,
    Karen
    Give the chick one drop by mouth. repeat as needed every 8-10 hours until perky.
    Then add it t their water as the maintenance dose listed on the Bovidr Labs poultry webpage: see :
    http://www.nutridrench.com/poultry-nutri-drench.html Long Term/Maintenance Dose.
    A great high class emergency nutritional supplement. Have used Bovidr Labs formulas on my collies
    and poultry for over a decade.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  8. ochochicas

    ochochicas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Update this morning:
    The chicks has learned how to peck and eat on his own, but his "beak-eye" coordination is off. He clearly gets very frustrated when he goes in for some food and misses. I'm not sure if he's "special" or if he has trouble seeing. I don't think he is blind since when I put my hand on the table he walks over and climbs on it. How would I be able to tell if he is blind or not?

    He's been getting vitamins since hatch. He is malnourished, however, since he has not been eating enough for a week. He ate a lot this morning and gained one gram since yesterday, so maybe we are moving in the right direction. We'll see if his coordination improves in the next couple of days.

    Thanks for all the input.
     
  9. Bridebeliever

    Bridebeliever Chillin' With My Peeps

    It sounds like things are good! I noticed a couple of mine were off in coordination at first. A couple more days and she should be good! As far as sight...I don't know know? Offer something yummy and see if it goes for it in a couple of different spots on the floor?
     
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    If the chick has trouble "hitting the target", indeed it may have sight issues.

    I have a very old Brahma hen who had a benign tumor over one eye, causing sight problems, and on the occasion she has a swollen eye, her depth perception is seriously affected. When given the time to pick things up from the ground, she will stab her beak all around the item half a dozen times before she hits it. I have a nipple waterer, and she can't use it when she's down to vision in a single eye. So I have to provide water specially for her.

    To test your chick's vision, separate him for the test. Put one single treat, like a meal worm or raisin down and let it try to take it. With normal vision, the chicken should be able to hit the item on the first try.

    It's a bit harder to see if vision is present in one eye and not the other. If you hold the chick up so you are off to its side, it should be able to focus the eye on that side on you. Turn it around and test the other eye. If it had to turn its head to see you when you're to its side, then perhaps the eye on that side isn't seeing normally.

    Examine the eyes for any film over the eye or any discharge. Its eyes may benefit from a saline drops if all else seems normal.
     

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