Distressed Chick. Read Other Forums, not Sure What to Do

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by MedSchlFarmers, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. MedSchlFarmers

    MedSchlFarmers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just purchased 4 chicks from the Urban Chicken store in Raleigh, NC today. 2 barred rocks, 1 black sex link, and 1 brown leghorn. 3 are doing great. All were eating and drinking (nipple waterer) when we got home. They are running around, no one has pasty butt, and the warmest part of the brooder is 90 degrees. They are 6 days old. For the past hour the black sex link has been chirping the distress chirp nearly constantly. Every time I go over to the brooder she stops. The black sex link and brown leghorn were both trying to jump out of the brooder by jumping from the top of the waterer. I put a baby gate on the top of the brooder so they can fall out. The two Barred Rocks look like they just want to take a nap after lots of eating and drinking and the other two seem to be walking around nervously and keep jumping up on the waterer. What should I do? What could be wrong? I have 7 others (in a different brooder) who never did this. I bought them from a private owner at 6 days of age also. As I am typing this I hear 2 chicks chirping the distress chirp instead of one (I went and checked and the other one is the Brown Leghorn). I searched the forums and couldn't find another post that seemed to be the same situation. Thank you for your help.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
  2. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    There are two big reasons for chicks to issue the distress call, aside from pasty butt. One is they can't get to their food. That happened one time to me. The feed in the feeder was too low for them to reach with their tiny short beaks. After that, I always made certain the feeder was topped off.

    Another reason is they're too hot or too cold. Ninety may be too warm. I discovered that a batch of new chicks I'd just brought home were unhappy with the lamp at the level I'd hung it. The room was pretty warm to begin with, so I decided to get a 100 watt bulb and ditch the 250.

    I measured the temp directly beneath the 100 watter and it was 85 degrees. The chicks were finally content. Every time I got new chicks after that, I made sure the temp was no warmer than 85 for their first week, and never had problems anymore.

    A lot of folks mistake the guidelines to mean the entire environment must be this or that temp, but they fail to specify it's directly beneath the heat source, not the whole brooder. Chicks like it to be much cooler when they're in the rest of the brooder. I even saw that my days old chicks weren't in the least uncomfortable with temps in the 40s when I brooded outdoors this last year. As long as they had their heat source to warm up under, it could be any old temperature in the rest of the space and they weren't even fazed by the cold.

    If those two issues aren't what's causing the distress call, perhaps the chicks merely desire attention. They're a lot like human babies in that respect.
     
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  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    At six days old I think they know where they belong and who else should be with them, they are probably distressed at being moved and taken away from any other chicks, that's my thoughts anyways. I think after a week they should forget and stop calling.
     
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  4. MedSchlFarmers

    MedSchlFarmers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you both so much. Very helpful replies. I topped off the feeder, checked the temp on the other side of the brooder is was 80ish, and just spend some time sitting by the brooder talking to my husband. The black sex link and brown leghorn really calmed down after these changes. I didn't hear them much during the night, so I think they are adjusting. They seem fine this morning. Whew! Yesterday, the black sex link just seemed to be wandering around nervously looking for something. I bet it was his friends/old environment at the store. Interestingly, the two barred rocks seemed very happy/content to have each other. Glad they all seem to be adjusting to their new home today. Just because I'm curious, do they seem to hang out according to breed/color? Or maybe the Barred Rocks are just a little more laid back? Or could if have been adjusting to the type of heat source? They were using one of the awesome mamma heating pads the chicks can go under in the store and I'm using a heat lamp (haven't made the heating pad investment quite yet). My first batch of 7 babies were under a heat lamp at their first home from days 1-6, so that didn't change when they came to me. Thanks again for your insight!
     
  5. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Absolutely, they could have been distressed that they couldn't find their "mama"! You should have mentioned that! If they were used to getting under the cozy darkness of the heating pad cave and then they are suddenly without it and subjected to glaring light all the time with no relief, of course they'll be distressed.

    It's the same as losing their broody hen! That's the entire purpose of the heating pad system! It replicates the mama hen! I'm awe-struck that the store is using the system! Wait 'til Blooie hears this! [​IMG]

    If you love your chicks and want what's best for them, get off your @$$ and go get a heating pad! Wal-mart sells them. Look for the one that says auto-off by-pass on the box. Read Blooie's thread, the first couple pages, and you'll see how it's set up. "Mama-Heating Pad for the Brooder" thread.

    And yes, the chicks do choose friends that look like themselves. They're little racists, what can I say.

    But it's change that chicks hate. The hate, hate, hate it! So you plopped them down in a brooder with no mama and just bright hot light all the time, and well, no wonder.
     
  6. MedSchlFarmers

    MedSchlFarmers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good to know. I was not expecting the store to use the mamma pad and already had the brooder set up prior to getting the chicks. My husband is a med student, so I'll have to look into how much the heating pad costs. Extra money is a thing of the past. Thankfully the chicks seem to have adjusted to their loving but poor folk home
     
  7. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Look at the $30 as an investment. It won't go to waste after the chicks no longer need it. The heating pad also doubles as a handy remedy for human aches and pains. I use mine every night to warm my cold feet when I first get into bed at night.
     
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  8. MedSchlFarmers

    MedSchlFarmers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yah, sorry I didn't mention it, didn't really think about it at first since I'm new to this
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Your problem is solved so I’ll get a little philosophical. It sounds like it was just change that had them upset. Chickens will fairly quickly adapt to a new environment but that change can be stressful to them.

    I’ve had chicks give that distress call in different situations. If a chick gets separated from a broody hen, say by a fence, it gives the call. I’ve had them get trapped in a tight spot. With that chirp it’s easy to find them and know something is wrong. One time I had a five-day-old just standing around and giving that chirp. Although I had dipped its beak when I put it in and the others were drinking it never learned how. When I dipped its beak in the water it just stood there and guzzled water. There are a wide range of things that might cause that distress call but it does mean they are not happy.

    Birds of a feather flock together. They do, but after observing my flock over the years I don’t limit that to color. They do recognize color, that can be a factor. I once had a broody hen hatch out a couple of red chicks and bonded with them. When I added some other chicks a couple of days later (my incubator hatch was later than her hatch although they were started the same day. Interestingly, her hatch was two days early, the incubator was on time) she accepted the red ones but rejected the black chicks.

    I’ve noticed hens that were raised together tend to hang out together even after they have fully matured regardless of color. Not always but to me there is a clear tendency.

    I think personality has a lot to do with it. Some take confinement well, some like to roam. Some are just more adventurous than others. There are breed tendencies along these lines. I think that’s why it is so color dependent when people first get chicks. But after they have inbred a bit and personality and colors get mixed, I see a lot less of that split along color lines. Birds of a feather do flock together but “feather” doesn’t always mean color.

    Azygous sure sounds like a convert to Blooie’s “Cult of the Mama Heating Pad”. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great system. It can work really well but Blooie has admitted that other systems also work. I still use heat lamps. I’ve been using them for years and am set up for it. I brood in the coop summer and winter. Occasionally the far end of the brooder is iced over on a really cold morning but the end of the brooder where the chicks are is toasty. That’s where I keep the water, not right under the heat but in the zone that doesn’t freeze. If I were to switch to another system like the heating pad cave I’d have to come up with a way to keep the water thawed on those icy mornings. It can be done, but I don’t want to hook up another electric line to another electric device down there to keep the water thawed. You have to look at the entire brooder system not just one component.

    I can remember living off of a loaf of French bread over the weekend while at college, waiting for my meal ticket to kick back in Sunday night. No peanut butter or jelly, just that loaf of French bread. There was a donut shop off campus that had a bottomless cup of coffee for a dime. I’d load each cup with free sugar and milk and made it through the weekend. Let’s just say I understand how money can be tight for a student. If you have a system that works I don’t see a reason spend money to change right now.

    Sorry Azygous old buddy, we’ve had some good conversations on here, but read what you wrote. To me it sounds like a religious convert proselytizing. This is the way, the only way, and every other way is wrong. As much as you love the heating pad cave you know it’s not like that.
     
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  10. MedSchlFarmers

    MedSchlFarmers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Ridgerunner. I do appreciate your comments. Makes me feel better. The babies are happy now. Sidenote, my brother lives in Northwest Arkansas also. Beautiful part of the country! I was just there MLK weekend. [​IMG]
     

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