Chicks dying, help!!! ???Autopsy Update, need thoughts


12 Years
Dec 1, 2007
Princeton BC Canada
Ok, so I got 25 layer chicks and 25 broiler chicks last friday. They were ok for the first 2 days and since then I loose usually 1 a day. They look like they just go to sleep and die, or go to sleep and get squished, but they don't sleep on top of each other, I check and the brooder is warm. I've lost some of both types, and I just noticed one of the little layers looking bad. She is walking around and laying down alot, but her head is tilted to the side and she is holding it low. They have normal poops and no pasty bottoms. I did have them on turkey starter that I had left over, could that be it?? They are now on 20% starter. They have been getting a little Stress Aid in there water.
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describe the droppings..color and consistency..

are you using a thermometer gauge to make sure of proper temp?

should be 95 degrees first week..5 degrees less each week.
any drafts?
any other symptoms?(observe carefully)
could they be too crowded?
what bedding are you using?
are you giving vitamins?
are they drinking water?
They are doing everything a chick should, they run and play, eat their food and drink. I am usuing them to gauge the temp, they were to cold the first day, and I have been moving the heat lamp further up and they sleep all over now, the room they are in is warm, no draft. They don't crowd the light or pile up. They droppings are normal, little ones, not runny or really smelly and their little butts are clean.
I did an autospy on one of the broilers that died, about an hour after it had died. To me I think it was constipated. I removed all the shaving and all now just in case. When I opened the chick the intestines were full and some spots looked like they were full of air. I didn't open the intestines, bu the inside of the chick smelled bad, reall bad. I have to open the door and i cremated him in the fireplace after it was so bad. There was a lot of yellow fluid in the abdomen area, I know some is normal but like I said this smelled bad, half like poop and half like rotten chicken smell.
I would call your hatchery or feed store, where ever they came from.
If the inside of the chick smelled really bad right after it died (not hours later- as any dead thing will start to smell), and the remaining yolk was abnormal in color and consistency (normal yolk in a chick looks like normal egg yolk)- you likely bought a bunch of chicks that have an internal infection from the egg.

Look up 'mushy chick disease or yolk sac omphalitis' basically the chicks have a bacteria growing in their yolk, usually e.coli. This is usually a dirty egg incubation problem, or sometimes a dirty brooder problem. They usually sicken and die rapidly in the first week of life. Really bad smelling insides- they are rotting with bacteria on the inside. Rather awful to think about.

If this is what is going on, you will likely lose many of them, and the remainder may not grow of lay well. Culling is recommended (not treating them with antibiotics) affected birds may survive, but not do well. clean the brooder well, and repopulate from a clean & trusted source. The hatchery may replace them for you, if others have reported the same problem. Definitely report it to who sold you the chicks, this may help you and others who bought from them.

If you want to know for sure what you have happening prior to a cull or attempt to treat- either have a vet culture the yolk of a sick or very recently deceased chick, or send one or some to your state poultry lab.
you posted:

"I removed all the shaving and all now just in case. When I opened the chick the intestines were full"

was it full of feed, or shavings?

could be the problem..

best to use ribbed paper towels, or that rubbery non-slip shelf lining..sold at places like Walmart in the kitchen aisle, or with the Contact paper..
easy to clean and reuse.
some is similar to jar openers..
Well since the last 2 died I haven't lost any yet, knock on wood. I did remove the shaving, when I did the autopsy I did not open the intestine, I was so grossed out by the stink and howe bad the house was getting I didn't want to make it worst. I will keep and eye on them and if another one goes i will cut it open too and see if it smell, and inform the hatchery. They came from Miller Hatchery in Alberta. thanks
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