Dead and dying 6-weekers!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Shesapip, Aug 31, 2009.

  1. Shesapip

    Shesapip Out Of The Brooder

    I'm confused! Yesterday evening my chicks were healthy and rambunctious and this morning 3 of 4 were cold and catatonic. Since then one has died, one is unchanged, and one is starting to make little chirring noises.

    Because they were all cold to the touch, I immediately tucked them (fearfully easy to do in their desperate condition) under my shirt and next to my skin, brought them in, and put a blanket over my chest. The result is as above.

    I see no drainage, there might be a slight noisiness to the reviving one's breathing. Now the second one is peeping - it's been about 30 minutes.

    These are hatches to my Speckled Sussex, who was so broody I gave up and got her some eggs. She is kept in a small coop with her 4, which is divided to make a second area for my Red Leghorn and her 3 fosters. Those three were all in fine fettle this morning, as was their mom. Cassie, the Sussex, looked glossy and well and her 4th, while sluggish, was up and eating and drinking.

    The coop is built of a dresser of drawers with every other drawer missing as an opening to get into the one below. These girls sleep on shavings in the bottom drawer with their mom. They have a lid on their portion of the run, and my buff orps sleep on the lid, refusing to graduate to the big coop with the big girls but staying where they started. It gets into the fifties here at night now, or high forties. The coop is against a fence, filled with DLM pine shavings.

    The one that died was sitting out in the run, the other two were in the drawer. Could they simply have gotten too cold?

    Health history of my flock: The coop sits in my backyard, where my mixed flock free-ranges during the day. This summer we had a heat wave with the temp going up to 108 degrees. I nursed the flock, including 3 Buff Orpingtons, with ice blocks and frozen grapes, a wading pool and frequent checks. Afterward, maybe a week later, my big 18-month old (reported age, unconfirmable*) RIR came down with a severe respiratory illness. First it spread to her companion RIR, then to my (reportedly) 18-month-old Delaware, then my (reportedly) 18-month-old Barred Rock. After 5 days from the first signs of illness with modest but not complete recovery, I put the flock (except the moms and chicks isolated in the Little Blue Coop) on two weeks of Aureomycin chlortetracycline hydrochloride at the suggestion of my local feed store owner. I put it in 2 gallon-sized waterers in diluted apple juice to entice them to drink it, but also kept water available at all times. I treated this way for two weeks. I had eight young pullets (3.5-4 mos old 6 RIRs, one caramel-colored mix, one Ameraucana mix), the 3 orps, and my 4 big girls in the free-range group. The Buff Orps were completely spared and it looked like one or two of my 4-month RIRs came down with it but recovered quickly.

    Although the original four still had signs of very mild respiratory illness, after 2 weeks I decided it must be a viral issue and discontinued the antibiotics. Big Red and Baby (RIRs) seem completely recovered, Bossie (Barred Rock) still gets rattles sometimes when she puts her head down to feed and Honey (Delaware) still sneezes a lot, but they are all behaving normally energy-wise and eating normally. It's been 2-3 weeks since I stopped treatment.
    My 8 youngsters and 3 buffs, plus Cassie and Little Red, the moms, show no signs of illness whatsoever.

    It's taken a half-hour to remember and recount all this. The two remaining are breathing quietly and regularly, eyes closed, sitting on my chest covered by my shirt and the fleece blanket. No rattles, coughs, or labored breathing.

    Could their mom have just been ditzy and let them get too cold? Little Red's three are thriving and noisy, and their section of coop has just a board on top and an open nest box with no sides, with hardware cloth above and on all three sides. The sicker of the two remaining has an empty crop, the other a full one. No poo on their bums, no drainage anywhere.

    Should I try to feed them some yogurt? Force fluids? Let them sleep?

    Should I put the dead chick back in with her mom for a bit, so Cassie knows why she only has three and doesn't search for her?
    *I say "reportedly" because I am just not getting the eggs I should for this age range, from any of these birds. I was told they were one year old by the sellers back in March, but despite all my coddling, the eggs just aren't coming.
  2. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

  3. Shesapip

    Shesapip Out Of The Brooder

    But it doesn't seem to be rattles or noisy or labored breathing, no drainage. I just mentioned that some of my flock had respiratory illness because I'm grasping at straws to figure out what's wrong.
  4. Shesapip

    Shesapip Out Of The Brooder

    All three are dead now. Not a mark on them, Keelbones seem prominent, but that could be from not having eaten since last night, couldn't it? I have looked all three over - 2 full, one half-full crop.

    All pullets. All loved. All wanted. All gone.
  5. lavacaw

    lavacaw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 4, 2008
    South Central Texas
    So sorry for your loss. Hope you find what caused it so you don't lose more. [​IMG]
  6. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    So sorry, [​IMG]

    I'm leaning toward too cold. At 6 weeks they should be in the 70F range all the time, and if the hen didn't do a good job they may have gotten too chilled.

    Keep in mind that usually any chicken that survives respiratory disease becomes a carrier, so perhaps they had added issues from being so young?

    Once again, I am soooo sorry for your loss.
  7. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    I am so sorry for your loss. [​IMG]
  8. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Could be mites or lice? Earlier this year I had babies unexpected dying. Apparently healthy one day and dead overnight. I finally figured out that they had mites/lice and treated for that. Took a few weeks of spraying both birds and coops/pens, but I managed to prevent any more deaths. Look in their wing pits, use a magnifying glass and bright light. The bugs rapidly leave dead & dying birds, which is why it was so hard to figure out.
  9. StormyRidgeChixLady

    StormyRidgeChixLady Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 27, 2009
    Im so sorry for your loss. I have baby chicks that in the last week or 2wks seem fine. Then one day droopy wings and lethargic, then dead in a few days. I had another one pop up this way yesterday, i put ACV in their water last night and everyone seemed extra spry this morning. It wouldnt hurt, if anything boost their immune system. You could try that. I also agree that they may be getting a bit too cold. Maybe you can bring them in or set up an enclosure with a heat lamp on one end (on the outside of the enclosure)and nothing on the other, so that they may regulate their body temp. Maybe just turn it on at night. Good Luck.
  10. Shesapip

    Shesapip Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you, everyone, for your kind words.

    Sonoran Silkies, thank you for the suggestion. Not having read it until just now, it just happened that I inspected the body of one chick right after death and found no sign of mites; I did lift up a wing and look at the pit, and it was clear of any sign of bugs. I have now disposed of the bodies and it's been about two hours since the last one died, which I suspect is too late to expect any mites to still be there. I did not have any mites on me - as I mentioned, I held them against my skin to warm them, right up until they died. I am sorry for your loss, as well.

    What did you spray with?

    StormyRidgeChixLady, what is ACV? I'm glad you found something so helpful. I'm sorry for your loss, too.

    Let me point out that these chicks never did get sick with that respiratory thing when others had it. I'm now suspecting Asian pear tree leaves could have something to do with the deaths. There were small children over yesterday and one was tearing up those leaves into bits and dropping them in that part of the coop while I was occupied. That may explain why the 4th chick is still perfectly healthy and the 3 in the next section over are all fine. Perhaps Asian pear tree leaves are poisonous.

    Ranchhand, I was just reading SpeckledHen's 10 Commandments. If I have to cull, I'll be killing my two favorite chickens in the whole flock, who are still symptomatic weeks later. Pray for strength for me. And knowledge. This is my 6th month of knowing and loving chickens and I did not expect this task to come along so soon.[​IMG]

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