Droopy Head/Lethargic week old Silkie Chick...Please help.


8 Years
Apr 5, 2011
The Dunes Indiana!

I have four 1wk old silkie chicks that I purchased from a breeder a few days ago. They hatched on April 9th, so just shy of a week.
Everything was fine until one abruptly started acting lethargic, standing by itself, hanging head low and so on.
I read everything I could through the archives here and decided to go get some Poly-vi-sol(without iron) and gave the baby a cpl little drops, then dipped her beak in water to wash down. I have them in a nice size brooder, with clean pine shavings that I change daily.
For heat, the temp is between 88-90 degrees by way of 250 watt red heat lamp. It is large enough they can move away from the direct light if needed. I have their food and especially water furthest from the light so it is cooler and to encourage them to leave the direct light.

Immediately after giving the baby the vitamin drops, she seemed to perk up a bit and even appeared to eat with the others for a few minutes, but careful observation showed she was not really eating much just pecking. I found a recipe and made some...
milk, a cpl drops of the vitamins, and mashed up chick starter. I tried to get her to take some, but she wouldn't.

I check there bottoms daily, feel there tummies for constipation and take a warm-water soaked cotton ball to rub there bottoms. All of them, including the sick baby have been pooping normal and have no problems with there bottoms.

A few things I have observed...
-she stands with her lead low
-she makes a constant chirping sound
-sometimes appears to be chewing with her beak
-is always trying to get in between the other babies, but just stands there
-she wont lay down..even when the others are laying down she just stands in the middle with her head down

When I take her out of the brooder she appears to be more active..its like when she is away from the light she is more active.

Also, she is now noticeably smaller...she weighs .75 oz, while the others weigh between 1 oz and 1.35 oz.

Is there any hope...any other tricks? I dont kn ow if this means anything, but she has more wing feathers then the others..I hope I am not losing the only girl

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thank you, Jeanne

I'm sorry. I'm afraid you're already doing everything I can think of to suggest. Sometimes they just don't thrive. "failure to thrive" is even a diagnosis; it just means no one really knows why. On the other hand, sometimes they grow and develop more slowly than the others but grow up anyway, and do fine. If it's any consolation, I believe it is the males who tend to feather faster, although I've never had Silkies, myself. I'd definitely continue a few drops of vitamins daily for a while. Maybe she will start accepting a little dish of moistened food (have ou tried ogurt?) so you can just add it to this.
I have not tried yogurt yet. I will get some plain today, i only have vanilla right now. I got up every 2 hours last night and gave her a few drop of vitamin water. I also gave her some honey water. She made it through the night but its not looking good. She is not eating. Is there a way I can force feed her?

I had a kitten once with a cleft that I tube fed and she survived long enough to have surgery.

Thank you for the reply.
I had a similar problem with mine being lethargic, just standing with head drooped and not really eating or drinking. I noticed a few bloody poops and was informed by some here that it was very likely coccidiosis (sp?). I started treating all 6 of them immedietaly with corrid but it was apparently too late. Mine also had problems breathing. They would open their beaks and stretch their heads up to get a breath. Hope your chick gets well.

You might try dissolving some chick feed with water and feed it with a dropper or syringe. Just be careful not to get any in the nostrils. I was able to feed mine water this way. I am sure somebody else has a better solution.
I found a recipe here for baby chick feed...

-hardboiled egg
-chick starter feed
-1 ml of Poly-vi-sol
-shredded carrot

I put all of this in the food processor and made it into liquid, then took a dropper and fed her a few drops, alternating between that and her vitamin water.

No one else is sick, no bloody poops. They are on medicated started feed. From what I have since learned this is a classic "Failure to Thrive" case. The others are doing wonderful, active and happily eating like little pigs, pooping normal. I am praying they all stay that way.

She has made it 48 hours so she is a fighter. If she shows no improvement by tomorrow, I will stop prolonging her suffering by intervening and just let nature take its course.

Thank you to those who replied.
Well she passed away in my hands at 2 am this morning.
She was quite the fighter, and made almost 4 days from onset. One thing I have a question about now is how she actually went. It almost seemed like she couldn;t breath or was having a seizure..she flapped around violently(the most active she had been all day) for about 15 seconds, and then slowly went to sleep.

Some of her symptoms are consistant with gape worm, but I did not think babies this young could have that. She was only 7 days old. Does anyone know if that is even possible? I know I will never know for sure but the whys are killing me =( I haven't slept much since this started, waking up every 2 hours to give her drinks/etc.My daughter is a boirn animal lover/rescuer and she is going to be a mess..I didn't have the heart to tell her before school.

I am worried about the others now too..they all seem fine, but so did Lilly until she abruptly went down hill.
I'm so sorry you lost her.....
Did you try to call the breeder and ask them questions...?
How and where they kept the chick's....?
Did you see any blood droppings...?
Sometimes it's there and sometimes it isn't....
If it was coccidiosis... you may be wanting to treat all the chicks...
If the chick is constantly chirping she might of been cold....
May I ask why your swabbing them with water, if they don't have pasty butt....?
I've never done that...so I'm just asking...
I hope someone else here might have an answer for you....
But I would definitely start with calling the breeder.....
One more question.....did the breeder tell you she was a girl...?
I can't tell at that age who's who...! Wish I could.!
Once again...sorry about your loss...
I have been in constant contact with the breeder. She is the one who advised me to check there bottoms daily and feel for constipation.
I didn't actually get the bottoms wet, I just took a damp/warm cotton ball and wipe the fur up and away more as a preventative..
There was never any blood and all the poops have been normal...They are all on medicated started feed.

The breeder did not tell me tell she was a girl, it was just easier to call it a her, rather then always typing his/her//.plus my daughter named her "Lilly" :) She said she can;t tell sex until much older.

The breeder said sometimes they are born with a vitamin E deficiency? I did see where they were kept and they were all well and clean.

The brooder is set up in my bathroom and the temp is monitored constantly and kept at 88-90 degrees.
The others are all doing great and gaining 2 oz daily. She was always the smallest of the bunch.

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