early death of hatchlings

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

  1. jake and pippa

    jake and pippa Out Of The Brooder

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    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 Chicken Obsessed

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    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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