Chicks dying of unknown cause?


In the Brooder
8 Years
Jun 23, 2011
Calumet, UP of MI
I got 8 chicks (about 3-7 days old) from an animal swap last saturday. brought them home, one died within hours. i thought it could have been from the move where it was, perhaps too much stress. then, the next day a chick died. the next day, 2 more. And now, we have only 2 left!

They are on organic wood chips (I have one chick that i hatched with them, and that one seems to be perfectly fine) other than that, nothing else i did raising chicks changed from last year. they have water at all times, as well as chick/starter feed. they have a heat light, not too strong that they get too hot (if they do, they have room to move away from the heat), and not too cool.

their "symptoms" are sudden sleepiness. they will sleep all day. their reflexes will get slow, they will not have energy to flip back over if they get knocked on their back. about half of them also seemed to be gasping for air. i checked their mouth/throughts, and the airway was clear, although they did have some gunk in their nostrils. a couple had pasty butts, but i got it off as soon as i noticed it with lukewarm water. and by night, they die. when i noticed they started dieing, i hand fed them food and sugar water to make shur they were getting hydrated and food. but it didnt seem to work.

I call it the "sudden sickness". What could it possibly be? it seems to be only affecting the chicks that i got from the animal swap, because the chick i got is perfectly fine. please help, i don't want to lose the two i have left!


8 Years
May 1, 2011
There are two things that come to mind. Coccidia and a respiratory illness. Coccidia can kill fast...Corid will take care of that. The gasping and gunky noise scares me more. I would start them on Duramycin 20 immediately. You mix it in their water. I would treat them all since respiratory illnesses are extremely contagious. If they aren't drinking much, I would 'dose' them 3 Xs per day at least for the first couple days. Use an eyedropper and drip, what they would normally drink in one sitting, the medicine water into their beaks.


Feb 5, 2012
Necedah, Wi
Have you used this "organic" bedding before. Sounds like they are getting fumes from it and may be getting poisoned. I would switch to paper towel only, clean the brooder, and see what happens.


7 Years
Mar 11, 2012
Nanton, AB, Canada
One of my 4 chicks passed with similar symptoms, though not so quickly. She appeared to have some sort of respiratory issue, was slow, stumbly, sleepy alot. Ate and drank with the others just fine and even had a few doses of Tetracycline water. Nothing was working, and her symptoms kept worsening. Eventually she passed, and i took her to work for a Necropsy 9I work at a vet clinic). Turns out her heart had develeoped abnormally and had caused her to go into heart failure. Her heart had been working ovetime her whole life. The tissue of the heart was slowly dying from the outside in while the heart struggled to keep up. The Dr who did the autopsy was not aware of a disease related to poultry that could cause this, so we assumed it was a developmental abnormality.

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