early death of hatchlings

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by jake and pippa, Jun 19, 2016.

  1. jake and pippa

    jake and pippa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 13, 2015
    Hudson valley NY
    I am new to this so forgive me if these are uninformed questions. I have a coop for my chickens, but the nest boxes on the floor level are sometimes inhabited by my Muscovy ducks. I now have four adjacent nests occupied by three hens and one Muscovy. Each bird has about 8 eggs. Some nests have mixed eggs (chicken and Muscovy). I check periodically to remove rotten eggs. I have moved a few eggs so hens have chicken eggs and duck has duck eggs, but they are still mixed. I have found one dead duckling and one dead chick in the shed in the past few days. They were either in a nest or on the coop floor outside. I also had one live healthy duckling snuggling with a Muscovy hen and I moved that duckling to a brooder indoors (with another duckling). I took the duckling to prevent the duck from abandoning the other eggs in her nest. When she hatches out more I will return it to her.

    To give a complete picture, I have other Muscovy nests outside the coop, three or four, and earlier this week one hen hatched 14 healthy ducklings that she is happily raising (great mom). I was also able to hatch two more of her eggs in an incubator.

    Why would my other neonates die? They appear physically normal. I did not do autopsies. Each hen has her own nest in the coop, so there should be no conflicts. Second question, it seems I also am seeing a lot of rotten Muscovy eggs in some nests. I might expect one or two, but in some nests half the eggs are rotten. Can a moist environment cause rot? Bacterial or other infection? But, I did just have one large clutch hatch and have 16 healthy duckling from that clutch. The successful hatch came from a nest in a plastic airline-style dog crate away from other birds?

    Any ideas? Thanks much.
  2. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    A necropsy is the only thing that will tell you for sure what is going on with the high mortality rate of your hatching eggs. Call around and find a lab that will do this for you. You need to refrigerate any dead hatchlings until you can get them to the lab.

    It's entirely possible your flock is carrying a viral infection that is being passed onto the embryos in the eggs, killing some before they hatch and killing others soon after. Many birds are resistant to these viruses so a flock appears healthy except for these isolated unexplained deaths.

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