Did my chicks die because of exposure to disease?

Flock Leader

Songster
7 Years
May 3, 2012
322
42
146
Israel
Hi everyone,

Until now we have always hatched chicks in the incubator, but this spring one of our hens went broody and hatched 4 chicks naturally. I figured I would let the chicks run with their Mama, and left them to wander in the yard by day, only bringing Mama and her brood home at night. I made sure they had food, water and shelter at all time, and it was pleasantly warm outside.

The chicks looked fine for a few days, but at about a week old, two of them died one after another. They looked weak and listless, then died the next day. The remaining chicks look fine for now.

This made us pretty upset, as it was the first time we had chicks die. Until now, we've had zero mortality - among chicks who hatched on time and were healthy-looking. Our policy had been to keep them indoors until a few weeks old, and only then give them their first taste of sunshine. Even though we didn't vaccinate, our chicks still were mostly fine, although some older birds died of what was presumably Marek's.

So... the only theory I can come up with is that the chicks died because they were exposed to disease before their immune system could mature. Do you think it might be true?

What do you suggest we do in the future? Vaccinate at day old (not sure I would be able to do it without killing the chicks by mistake)? Keep the broody hen indoors together with her chicks?
 

cubalaya

Crowing
12 Years
Nov 19, 2008
2,788
240
316
central virginia
we always used the incubator until this year but are letting more and more of the hens hatch eggs. it is the more natural and sustainable thing for the future. keep and breed only the ones that survive to 2 years and never look sick. your flock will build resistance to things like mareks. i would never vaccinate.
 
Last edited:

Flock Leader

Songster
7 Years
May 3, 2012
322
42
146
Israel
we always used the incubator until this year but are letting more and more of the hens hatch eggs. it is the more natural and sustainable thing for the future. keep and breed only the ones that survive to 2 years and never look sick. your flock will build resistance to things like mareks. i would never vaccinate.
Your advice is good but a little harsh... thanks for the input! In my head I know you're probably right, but it's natural to feel protective of those little chicks.
 

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