Coturnix Chicks Dieing. Chill? Virus? Runts just giving way to nature?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by RichardandTresa, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2014
    Hello all.

    First thank you for all that I've learned here. I have probably read EVERY thread here... Really!

    This will be our third batch of chicks in our brooder... Our first chicks hatched in our LG incubator.

    Set 49 eggs (several were certainly from a breeding quad where the male was not doing his job.) 23 hatched on their own, two I helped out of their shells on the last day of hatching (Membranes were dry, visible zippering that had stopped in one, and the other was mostly out but the shell was stuck on his rear end.

    All lived to make it to the brooder. The one that was only partially zipped was really under developed and I left him/her in the incubator. it had curled up toes on one foot and a crooked neck that resembled the position in the egg. It was a hard fighter as I watched it sipping water from the edge of the mat where the humidifying water fill cup was. I inserted a clean mayonnaise jar lid with marbles and water and it drank. I added another with crushed up feed (Turkey starter/pheasant bird feeder (28%). I was surprised at how it developed. I brought a small chick from the brooder that was not doing so well into the incubator. They did really well together. (I was mostly trying to get the under developed chick used to being with others and wanted to see if a chick would pick on it. It didn't and they looked like they were becoming "friends". ;)

    They are now one week old. A couple of days into he brooder box, one of the smaller ones died... No symptoms, just woke up in the morning and found him dead... (The little crooked guy was not only doing well, but his foot straightened out and he was fending for himself at the feeder troughs. (funny to see him push chicks twice his size off to the side while he ate.) A couple of days later, the little crooked one died (I was expecting it.) a coupe of days later, another "runt" died. This morning, I found another runt on its way out.

    I checked the brooder temp and it had dropped to 90 degrees. I've been holding it at around 95. I have a digital thermometer probe under the red, infrared heat lamp (metal reflector). Note: Our previous brooder boxes used a diffused white infra read heat lamp. This one was clear/red. It cast a ring of light on the floor. in the center of the ring of light, temps were about 90 degrees, at the bright ring, it could be as high as 105. We've learned how to read chicks in a brooder (first our chicken chicks bought from the feed store, then these three groups of chicks. watching to see if they huddle under the light or stay away from the heat to judge weather it's too hot or too cold. This batch of chicks ran freely all over. water was kept at the cool end, feeder in the middle. No stacking up for group heat except a few groups of two or three here and there... Nothing to tell me they were too cold.

    In me reading searching here on BYC, I read about some virus (don't remember the name that had the symptoms I've seen in the dieing chicks: Laying out on their sides, feet stretched out, lethargic eyes and body, then death.

    All of the chicks that have died were tiny compared to their siblings. I expected the two that I helped out of their egg shells to die... Maybe even expecting it from the other two that died being runts... (no picking whatsoever in the brooder)...

    Could there be a temp problem (if anything, it may have been too cold worrying about the outer ring of light being too hot...even without ANY signs in behavior that the chicks needed heat by gathering under the light? They never have!).

    If a virus, could it spread? I need to go out and double check to see if the feed is medicated... I've always been super careful about NOT giving our quail medicated feed...
    (Just checked: Feed is NOT medicated)

    Brooder box is 30" X 18" Rubbermaid tub with pine chips under paper towels. We switch brooder bin to a second one we have cleaned and ready to go fresh, hand moving chicks to new brooder bin. (After about a week and a half to two weeks max, we divide up the chicks to give them more room. Now at 20 chicks, will be 10 per bin.

    The rest of the chicks are about the same size (after loosing the tiny ones that were much smaller). They are doing great... eat, drink, explore, sleep...

    I put a wood cover over 3/4 of the bin to help raise the temps and keep them warm.

    Is there anything any of you might think of that I have not?

    Is this just the course of nature? (We lost one or two chicks from previous groups of chicks we purchased at 3~5 days old)...

    I think my heart is more saddened because this was the first time I've ever hatched them and worked so hard to keep them healthy (especially the ones I know I should not have helped out of their shells... just had to from a place of heart, not using my knowledge...) So in my "heart", I lost four. In my mind, I "knew" I'd loose the ones I helped out of their shells, so in "reality", I lost two runts out of 22 "healthy" newly hatched chicks.

    Thanks for anything you can share.

    Best, Richard

    (Photos are of our newly hatched chicks... Didn't take photos of the "runts"... The two I helped out of their shells were SUPER TINY (maybe half the size of the others).. The other two runts were maybe 3/4 the size of the other chicks. The remaining chicks are all about the same size and are growing fast.)

  2. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2014
    PS: The glass marbles were part of the modifications I made to our $45 (Craigslist) LG incubator... fan and egg turner. The marbles were used as mass heat sinks. They heat up during warm up and retain the heat so the fluctuations in incubator temps were kept to a minimum of .5 degrees up or down. I also added filler tubes to the side so refilling for humidity could be made without opening up the bator.

  3. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2014
    So Sad... Two more died this morning... Did some more research and the symptoms fit "Drop Wing"... read some mention about antibiotics, vitamins and adding sugar to their water...

    Does anyone know anything about this? There are one, maybe two more with early symptoms (I think). Lethargic, resting way more than the others, dropped wings... later on, they lay all the way down with their feet back and their head to the side and then they just die. They have all been the smaller chicks from the hatch... The larger ones seem to be doing fine!

    To add to it all, I went out to our quail pens and found one of our hens dead! A drop of blood at one of it's eyes, but nothing else. This hen was from one of our breeder groups and we've had her since May (started out as a chick, bought with a group of 24 from a local friend...) Great egg layer and other than super mild neck feather ruffling from the male, I've not had any problems

    Found another hen in our breeder group just above the one I just mentioned... Head and neck picked like I haven't seen except in roo grow out pens... I removed her and placed her in our "Quail Jail" (Individual 12" X 12" isolation cages usually used for violent males before we send them to freezer camp...

    Usually I'm really positive and joyous especially about how our Quail systems have been moving along wonderfully, but today...

    My heart is just beat up...

    Any advice about the chicks would be greatly appreciated...
  4. Mtn Margie

    Mtn Margie Crowing

    Apr 7, 2010
    CO Rockies - 8600ft up
    Maybe cocci. I would get them on Corid (amprolium) just in case. Not all cocci has bloody poo. more like yellow bubbly poo. I am not familiar with quail disease, but I think that takes antibiotics.
    Make sure they are looking spread out in your brooder and not clumped up either far or under the heat source. Corid is a good thing to have around with gamebirds. It can kill the chicks in 24 hours.
    Good luck! We are hoping for the best for you.
    1 person likes this.
  5. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2014
    Thanks for the advice Margie!

    I'm really focused with my research regarding all of our urban farming (Rabbits, Chickens, Tilapia and..Quail)... Read for months before designing and building habitats, learning how to care etc... I also take LOTS of notes, treating all of this like an experiment... When something goes wrong, I look for what was "different". In this case there were two changes: I switched over to red heat lamps learning about pecking, blood spots attracting more pecking etc and switched over from our white heat lamps to red to help prevent the pecking as well... I didn't like the uneven heat from the red lamps from the beginning... (Totally aware and can "read" chick pile-ups or staying away from the heat as a way to monitor and change the height of the lamp to control the heat. I just switched back to the white and they are acting totally like I remember! (Many are now sleeping directly under the light, but not huddled up with some scattered along the rest of the brooder... Temp is now at 100 (One week old). (I figured many might be weak and the heat would help relieve the energy needed to keep warm and divert it to staying healthy (I'll bring it back to 95 mid-next week.)

    The other thing I changed was instead of placing paper towels under the pine chips, I placed them on top thinking it would be easier and cheaper to just roll the paper towels up and toss them, replacing with fresh.

    I read a LOT about Corid and Cocci... I didn't realize it was a feces to mouth contracted illness. What I realized was that by placing the white paper towels on TOP of the shavings instead of underneath, I was inviting the chicks to peck at the spots (their poop) and probably ingesting more than before... By placing the chips on top of the paper, most of the poop falls through the shavings to the towel and at least, camouflages the poop to not be such an interesting thing to peck at and eat. It made sense to me, so I just changed that as well... Going back to what worked before.

    I'm searching now for a source for Corid (I know there are a couple of feed/farming supply stores not too far and since we have chickens too It seems like something we need to keep on hand here.... ) With all the success we've had prior to this event, I was taken by surprise thinking I had done "everything right" and was not vulnerable to something like this....

    Ahh... how mother nature likes to play with us when we are least ready of prepared...

    I'm still saddened about our dead birds, but feeling better about understanding why, learning about ways to prevent and ways to help cure/remedy.

    Thanks for your help and words of encouragement.

  6. Sill

    Sill Songster

    Dec 30, 2013
    Tempe, AZ
    Yes maybe cocci or could be "quail disease". There are threads here dedicated to both.

    Feed your healthy breeders first, the cage with the sick hen next and chicks last and always wash and disinfect your hands and anything that comes in contact with the birds between servicing cages.
    1 person likes this.
  7. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2014
    Hi Sill,

    Thanks for the advice!

    Ironically, I was grinding up feed and sprinkling it on the paper towels so they could eat and then figured I'd watch them "transition" to the feeder. One of the things I changed was to grind up their feed and replace the feeder with the smaller bits and pieces and dust!

    I'm not familiar with "Quail Disease" I'll look it up.

    The injured hen is responding to voice, eating and drinking. Looks like she is just relaxing and getting used to not being pecked on... We had others (mostly roos) that had pecked each other badly (as bad or worse than this hen), once separated, given food and water, they all healed up wonderfully without additional intervention. Hoping this hen will be the same...

    I've been watching the breeder cage this one was pulled from... now only two hens! Nervous about them getting over pecked and "considering" moving a hen from the pen below (hatched together and raised together until they were separated into breeder groups)... I've got 5 hens in the cage below and moving one to the cage that now only has two is inviting... Tresa and I are having a cage/pen/pan/battery session together when she gets home from work... I may move one up and keep an eye on her while we work around the area... (May band her leg with a plastic wire tie just to make sure we keep track...)

    And yes, I am washing my hands when ever I even LOOK at them! LOL! (Hot water with antibacterial soap) Interesting, I use rubber gloves collecting hopefully fertile eggs to place in the incubator, but before researching all of this I really never considered it much... It has now become a total routine with any thing I do with any of our animals (I had always washed my hands when testing the water in our Tilapia tilapia tanks, rinsing them off twice just to make sure I get rid of the soap... Now it's with everyone!

    Thank you!

  8. sphanges

    sphanges In the Brooder

    Feb 16, 2013
    Hi there, I'm sure you've already considered these points as it sounds like you've really done your homework, but just in case, there were two things that popped out at me.

    First of all, were the runts hatching out of normal sized eggs? I've inadvertently set one or two eggs that were really a bit too small and the chicks were undersized when they hatched. Also, are they hatching on time? If the incubator is a bit too hot they could be hatching too early.

    Secondly, I'm sure you already checked but could they have had pasty butt? I used to give my chicks a protein powder that seemed to cause it so I stopped and it virtually disappeared. They would get poop stuck over their vents and would twist around all the time to try and peck at it. They'd get noticeably smaller than the others very quickly. Warm water and some gentle removal usually did the trick, and I'd spray their butts with collodial silver if they seemed irritated afterwards. Apple cider vinegar in the water is also supposed to help though I can't say I noticed much different when I tried it.

    I'm sorry you've had bad luck with your birds and I hope it improves soon. Chicks are so fragile that something doesn't have to go too far wrong to be fatal. I don't know any bird breeders who don't have at least one period of tragedy when nothing seems to go right. Good luck!

    1 person likes this.
  9. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2014

    I LIKE your thinking! Very perceptive/exploration in your questions... You hit on some points that TOTALLY resonated with me that I will be addressing in my upcoming hatch (collecting eggs for a setting on Sunday/Monday). You really got me thinking things through again. (Although I feel very confident in what I "know", I ALWAYS keep an open mind and often can change direction 180 degrees when faced with sharing like yours...

    My "homework"? Ha! Besides MONTHS of research (I've read just about EVERY thread here at BYC Quail with LOTS of paste/copy save in my Documents file...during my first incubation/hatch, I wrote down over 264 entries from two digital thermometers and one hygrometer.

    Following your post note by note, I incubated every egg we got from our two breeder. Didn't candle, didn't float test and didn't take into consideration egg size (not rebellious, just a newbie)... I handled the eggs during collection with Nitrile gloves to avoid contamination. Placed them in a home-made "Cool-o-bator" in a second egg turner, point end down, humidity around 50% and temp around mid 50's. One mistake I'm changing this time, was I stored the eggs like this for 8 days. This time around I'm holding them for 5. (Thinking the longer I hold them the less successful the hatch rate... a higher hatch rate of fewer eggs might yield more successful chicks than fewer from a larger collection of eggs.

    Like I shared, I kept notes almost every half to full hour on temps from two digital thermometers and one digital hygrometer. The thermometers were off from each other by sometimes as much as 1.5 degrees. Highest high was 101.3 with an adjustment on the Little Giant's sensitive thermostat control (Looking at replacing it with a digital controller... I've seen a few with less than .5 degree tolerances) I've thought about your suggestion that the temps might be too hot. Even though I used two thermometers, I didn't calibrate them to anything I trusted. I'm going to place sensors from both with an oral, medical thermometer as a way of finding out where these two digital units compare. I'll mark both (calibrated to the medical mercury thermometer), as way of getting better accuracy and run this upcoming batch based on the new temp marks.

    You brought up that my hatch might have been early: Yes, my "first" hatch was an early hatch (by one day) and the number of "runts" was interesting (again, a newbie here. This was my first and with my lack of experience, I didn't think much of it). Although I kept track (by marking eggs) of which breeder group the eggs came from, I did not keep track of which eggs (large or small) produced which chicks or which chicks came from which breeder group. I also didn't think of noting size of eggs that did not produce chicks.

    "Pasty Butt"... I really don't "think so"... No symptoms on any of the chicks...

    Update on the chicks:
    I changed the light source to our older white bulb. Temp at just over one week is about 92 degrees. Added a little sugar to the water, changed out the brooder bin to a thoroughly washed/disinfected and thoroughly rinsed off bin. Changed the bedding situation to paper towel on the bottom with pine shavings on top. Put their feed in a Cuisinart and ground most of it down to powder (still a variety of size crumbles for them to choose from, but most are much smaller now) .

    Results: God! I totally forgot what happy chicks sound like! WONDERFUL, gentle, "peeping" with no more distress calling. The run around, scratch at the shavings, eat, drink and sleep. Most (but not all) sleeping is under the heat lamp in groups of three to five chicks, but no massive huddling or signs that they are cold or chilled... I check the digital thermometer in there every time I pass by them. I have wood cover that I've put on a few times, but over all, seems to be fine with an open top (I made framed chicken wire tops to keep them from jumping out... There's no more jumping at all though! My bad quail nightmare day turned into a wonderful, peaceful Quail dreams night.

    We use apple cider vinegar in the water for our Quail pens and we have colloidal Silver in our "human" medical kit... Although this rapid, positive change of health happened without administering Corid, We will be buying some this weekend and adding it to our farm animal care shelves.

    Thank you for sharing that "I'm not alone" (just got goosebumps on that one)... I felt SO alone with chicks and hen dieing off yesterday. It "felt as if", my whole worlds was crumbling around me and I was so certain that in me "greediness" to move forward in our quail raising project, that I had missed something somewhere and had just done it all wrong... What you've shared and what I've heard from others (including my very loving and consoling wife), is that I am just a man... Not Superman (Had a REAL issue with that for a time because one of my client projects was designing a radio controlled flying Superman for Mattel. With my last name sounding like Superman's father's name, there has been a long term kidding about: "Oh Yeah, Go ask Jarel... He can do anything! He made superman fly!" LOL! In the most loving way, Tresa has helped me accept that I don't have to live up to some unobtainable level of perfection and that my best is more than enough and very often, entails much more research and thinking than most...

    So here, I take a deep breath, let it all go, soak up what I've learned here (BTW: BYC/Quial people have been the BEST! I thank all of you... and I do mean ALL... I have learned more here than the dozens of other sights and documents I've found as I've tried to add to my Quail raising knowledge...

    Ironically... Today (Saturday... still waiting for components for my next client prototype project to arrive), I get to work on "farm stuff"... Today, it's building a captive bolt gun to dispatch our first Kindle of growing bunnies... Before our first Quail dispatching, I've never killed a warm blooded animal... I have wanted to make this aspect of growing "meat" as painless, stress-free, as instantly and humanely as possible. We've been handling our grow out bunnies getting them used to being petted on the head... Most go into the most peaceful trance, wanting to be petted rather than begin munching on the treats we give them. The captive bolt gun will have a prosthetic rubber cup (I also do special effects makeup/robotics) so that when the time comes, they will be in their own little heaven/peaceful trance, when it comes time for us to be thankful for their sacrifice.

    Sorry for writing too much and going on... I work at home alone and although very much a "people person", I don't get out much and discovering people like you is just too irresistible! ;)

    Thank you so much!

    Ok, with the sound of happy chirping Quail in the background, I go off to "work".


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