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Chicks Dying

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by kuchchicks, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. kuchchicks

    kuchchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have had chickens for 7 years. I feel very comfortable caring for them. On November 30, I bought 28 chicks from a hatchery. I normally hatch out my own but needed to replace a large number of my hens that are getting to the point of no longer laying. I opted to buy chicks because they were sexed female and I needed layers for this spring.

    All of the chicks appeared healthy when I first got them home. The hatchery is reputable to my knowledge. But over the last couple of months I have lost 4 chicks. The most recent I found this morning. I have found no apparent reason that they should be dying. I just find them on the floor of my brooder. I currently have them in a larger brooder in my garage (it is a very large wooden crate-like box that offers plenty of room, I don't feel they are over crowded). My garage is not heated and I have been trying to wean them off of the heat lamp so I can move them outside. We do park one of our trucks in the garage but I keep the door open for quite a while when we are pulling in and out to make sure that the fumes don't remain in the garage. I have been feeding them medicated chick feed. Water is fresh and clean.

    I am not sure why they are dying. None of my other birds are sick. I don't normally have this many chicks at one time. I normally hatch out an incubator full, keep the chicks that I am looking for (generally 5-6) and then sell the rest. The only thing different that I am doing this time than all of the other times is that I have far more babies, the new brooder box (this is the first time I have used this larger box), and the time of year (I usually only hatch in spring and summer).

    For those of you that do larger batches is it normal to lose this many babies? Am I doing something that I don't realize?
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    How big is the brooder box, what is the temp. These chicks are almost 8 weeks old, and should have been off heat several weeks ago. What is the ambient temp in the rest of your garage? I assume that the chicks are fully feathered now? When you find the dead ones, are they in the corner? By the heat source? Away from the heat source? In the middle of the brooder? Is it possible that there is a critter that is scaring them at night, causing them to pig pile, and smother the one at the bottom? IMO, even a mouse or a rat could be responsible for this.
     
  3. kuchchicks

    kuchchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know... I feel really bad about the heat lamp. I have never had chicks this time of year. Always spring and summer and I would have already had the light off of the but since it was winter and very cold here I kept it on thinking that they needed it. I am not sure now if I should just "cold turkey" shut it off. I am trying to keep it off during the day and only put it on at night. The garage of course is colder than my house but not as cold as right outside. Water will freeze in there over night if the heat lamp is not on though. So I would say maybe a few degrees warmer than outside. Today its about 40 here but usually it's in the single digits to 30s. But yes, they are fully feathered.

    As for the lighting... There are 2 windows in there but there is not always a lot of light. So I do keep the over head lights on during the day.

    The temp? Not exactly sure... they can get away from the heat lamp if they want. There is plenty of room for them to either be under the lamp or away from it. Not sure exactly how big the box is, but it is several feet by several feet. It is rather large and enough room for them to all spread out. All 4 of my kids can climb in it with still room left over. It take at least 2 people to moving it.

    The only time they are huddled together is when the light is off. Other than that they are pretty much walking around being chicks.

    The chicks that I have found, one was in the corner near the water, the other 3 were spread out but more in the middle. There is no way that a large animal could get into my garage at night to scare them, it's a pretty new house and I have not found any signs of anything like a raccoon... think he probably would have eaten some. As for a mouse or rat... we live in the woods so of course that could be possible but again I have not found any droppings.

    So I guess a couple of questions... 1. Should I just shut the heat lamp off cold turkey or should I continue to wean them? At what point do I completely shut it off. 2. Could this just be a fluke or is there something else besides the light that I should change?
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    At this age, those chicks should have about 1.5 to 2 s.f./bird. That's about 30 - 40 s.f. or 5 x 6 to 5 x 8. I'd turn the light off. At 8 weeks, they don't need it. No way to tell why they are dying without an autopsy.
     
  5. kuchchicks

    kuchchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The box I have them in is probably about 1.5 that (about 6x9 maybe?) so size should be okay. I have the light off now. I wont put it on tonight. Fingers crossed. I have a much larger coop that is completely empty that I have ready for them. I had wanted to move them out there this weekend. The coop is pretty well sealed up and then there is an enclosed run that will give them access to outside. I think they will be happier there. ty!!
     
  6. realsis

    realsis Crazy for Silkies

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    what do the droppings look like? some forms of cocci can present itself WITHOUT bloody stool. how have they been behaving? any tired or sluggish? are they eating alright? drinking? I want to say how very very sorry I am about your chicks. Hopefully the rest will be ok.. sounds like you know what your doing and maybe it's just one of those sad things that happen to weaker chicks? Have you lost any since posting? I hope not. please let us know how their doing now.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. kuchchicks

    kuchchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When the first chick died I did treat with coccidiosis just in case. They are all eating, drinking, and acting normally. Poop looks normal. Each time I found a dead chick I was shocked because there was absolutely no warning. No more have died since. But it still makes me wonder what I could be doing wrong. I too hope that it was just a fluke.

    Thank you for your sympathy tho!!! I do love them a lot.
     
  8. realsis

    realsis Crazy for Silkies

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    sometimes it's Nothing we do to cause it. it could be just the weaker birds of the hatch.sadly.it's also very hard to tell the weaker from stronger at the start.I hate loosing birds. I just lost a 3 year old myself. she was fine, setting her eggs and gone the next day.I have no idea what went wrong. so sad.but sometimes, especially with chicks things happen. did you notice if any of them were being peked on by the others? sometimes they know when things aren't right when we can't tell.I'm so glad your others are doing well! I have to wait till April for my chicks because my order is so small (5). I sure hope they all do well in shipping! my hatch date is April 12th. I'm getting 5 females barred rock chicks. I'm so excited for the babes. I have to drag the broader out of the garage! hope I can find everything I need!
     
  9. kuchchicks

    kuchchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for that. I sure hope that's the case cuz I just found another one dead just now. They are now 8 weeks old and fully feathered. Today was the first day I had the light completely off. This poor girl I found at the bottom of the pile where they were huddled to stay warm. So now I really don't know what to do. I have lost a total now of 5. It's so sad and frustrating. Don't even know what to do.
     
  10. kuchchicks

    kuchchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They all look healthy. All eating,drinking, and pooping good. Don't even know how to fix it. This last little girl really think she got smashed at the bottom of the pile to keep warm. But how do you stop that? It's not like there was not enough room. At any given time they seem to all congregate in one corner trying to stay warm. I am starting to think its cuz I left them dependent on the heat lamp too long without knowing any better.
     

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