Dummy chicks...ever had one? What did you do?

Three Cedars Silkies

11 Years
Apr 17, 2008
Gainesville, Fl.
I'm posting this as a separate thread because I've had some experiences with chicks that appear normal except they don't seem to have the inborn inclination to peck at food and drink water. There doesn't appear to be anything physically wrong. Sometimes you think they may be blind, but usually you can rule that out.

When I managed a thoroughbred horse farm, I delivered over 200 foals and every now and then you would have a "dummy foal" that didn't have the instinct to nurse or even pick at the hay. I'm sure it was some sort of brain damage. Sometimes, with good supportive care, they would come around...many times not and would require euthanizing.

Have any of you had similar experiences...and how did you treat or handle the chicks. Obviously, some of them require culling...I'm more interested in your experience in getting them over it. How did they do? What did you do?


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Jun 29, 2007
Kansas~50+ yrs of chickens
We've had calves like that once in the while. Sometimes after we tube them a few times something seems to kick in and they'll start sucking.....others just seem to have something missing and we have to put them down.


Mad Scientist
11 Years
Jun 1, 2008
I recently had one, called him shorty. I put him in with the other chicks in the big brooder but there was definitely something wrong. If he did find the food and water his movements seemed overdone. Really strange to watch. Well, I decided I wasn't going to have a house chicken, so that is why he went with the others. He seemed real happy, then after about 2 weeks (3 weeks old) I noticed he just didn't look right. He didn't grow as well as his hatchmates either. I felt bad but since he wouldn't have hatched had I not helped him I figure he wasn't meant to be. He died the next day. I had tried to give him water/vitamins/electrolytes when I noticed he didn't look right, didnt' help
Good luck


12 Years
Apr 10, 2007
Foothills of Central CA
My experience has been similar to klf's. I had a "dummy chick" last spring. I gave him help (notice I say "him") eating and drinking every couple of hours (by pecking with my fingers in the chick starter, putting his beak in the water, etc.) and he would eat/drink a little bit. I also gave him a little extra boost with vitamins in his water. He seemed to be thriving, except he wasn't getting the hang of going to the feeder or waterer when he needed to. He didn't even go over there when the other chicks were obviously having a great time eating and drinking. It's like he never really noticed. . . . Anyway, after a couple of weeks he started to go downhill and died shortly thereafter. I figure he just wasn't meant to survive.

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