Greenfire Farms Chick Survival Rate

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by elkinsacres, Oct 2, 2015.

  1. elkinsacres

    elkinsacres Out Of The Brooder

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    I'll admit straight off that I am beyond frustrated here... I have won two separate auctions over on Rare Breed Auctions for two different breeds of chicks, both from Greenfire Farms. Needless to say, the price was significantly reduced from the standard on the Greenfire site. I only mention this as a potential factor.

    The first was about a month ago or so for ten Niederrheiners. I'm in Arkansas, Greenfire is in Florida. They shipped out on a Monday, arrived on Wednesday or Thursday morning (can't seem to find the tracking info to confirm). They shipped twelve, so as to have two extras. All chicks were alive on delivery, but they seemed VERY small compared to every other chick I've seen (RIRs, Plymouth Barred Rock, Marans, Cream Legbars, Olive Eggers, Swedish Flower Hens, Bielefelders, Barbezieux, etc - just indicating here that I've raised some chicks...). GroGel was included in the shipment, and many of the chicks had blue-green staining on their feet and feathers from this. Within a few days, they started dropping. They never seemed to thrive, didn't see them aggressively going for food or water, just weak chicks. As of today, I have a total of three that have survived. These three seem to be in good shape, but I would like to see them a bit larger at this point.

    Flash forward to this week to the second auction win, this time for ten Twentse. Same shipping timetable. Chicks were VERY loud in the box, so I was much more excited to open up the box and see them. Well, my optimism was immediately extinguished when I clipped the tie-wraps... They shipped thirteen, so as to have three extras. Three dead upon arrival - one trampled to death, two apparently 'drowned' in the included GroGel cups (heads still in the cups). Three more covered in GroGel and trampled to the point they were not moving and barely breathing. The other seven seemed OK, but many had blue-green spots on them from GroGel. I rushed home from the Post Office, about a 25-minute drive, and put the 'survivors' in the brooder I had prepared for them (two lamps, pine shavings, 20% non-medicated chick starter and water). The three that were in rough shape, I brought them inside and got them washed off and back up to temp using warm water. They started to perk back up enough for me to shift them to the bathroom to put under a hair dryer. Unbelievably, they looked like they might just make it, albeit HEAVILY stained from GroGel contact (one of them was about half blue-green, feather down really absorbs that GroGel...). Into the brooder they went with the rest. I have had them for about 36 hours now and have lost two more with an additional chick currently circling the drain. There are some pine shavings in the water (I clean this out every time I see this happen, of course) which would indicate to me they are actively scratching around by the waterer and drinking water. Feed, on the other hand, barely shows any signs of activity.

    Now I have raised a lot of chicks this year; hundreds, in fact. The losses would be on VERY rare occasions. One chick drowned in a waterer, one chick got stuck in a feeder near a heat lamp, one I recall was weak from the start and eventually died several weeks later (although I just knew it wouldn't make it, I gave it the opportunity). I have raised ten different breeds of chicks this year. I have used a variety of different bedding material - pine shavings, hay, grass clippings. I have consistently used 20% non-medicated chick starter from Powell's Feed. Water is changed at least daily, but usually two or three times daily. I check on my chicks, on average, four times a day. Until they start to get feathers, I run two separate lamps - one closer to the brooder floor than the other. I can provide any other details upon request. I want to be completely transparent here as this is a problem I really want to solve.

    So...I guess I have a few questions here...

    1. What is your experience with Greenfire Farms chicks? Out of two separate shipments, I have two absolutely abysmal survival rates - and Shipment Number Two is still in flux.

    2. What is your opinion/experience with GroGel? It seems like this stuff might as well be rat poison as every chick that ended up contacting it eventually died. My three surviving Niederrheiners were, maybe not coincidentally, completely clean with no blue-green staining at all. It seems that, in theory, this is a great thing for chicks - nourishment and hydration that doesn't 'spill'. However... Why is it dyed at all? Why is it placed in a shipping box in such a manner that small chicks can (and do) walk through it, getting it stuck to them? In the future, I plan to specifically request that it NOT be used. I'll just take my chances. After all, for day-old chicks, they should still be absorbing their internal yolk sacs for up to 72 hours anyway.

    3. What the heck can I do to increase my survival rate here? I have basically resigned myself to the same rate of loss for these Twentse chicks over the next week or two, but it just kills me. You go from beyond excited to win an auction for rare chicks at an awesome discount only to have that crushed on an epic scale by death after death so quickly.

    Thanks for any help or guidance or stories you can share.
     
  2. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    My Coop
    Wow, what a mess. I am so sorry for your losses. Maybe these chicks just can't stand the stress of shipping?
    Maybe they are getting chilled from being wet from the Gro gel? I have never had that problem with shipping chicks with Gro-gel. I used Gro gel Plus. But I never put it in cups or anything that might trap the chicks, sigh. Just put a little pile in the box.
    One thing I do. I give my chicks Bovidr Labs Poultry Nutri-Drops. http://www.nutridrench.com
    Poultry instructions: If they are needy, they get 1 drop per chick by mouth. Repeat as needed every 8-10 hours until perky. I put 2ml per gallon in their water for the first 2 weeks to get them off to a strong start. My solution looks like very weak tea. It is all natural. A little but goes a long way as it is very concentrated. Measureable in the bloodstream in 30 minutes with 99% utilization. I believe the secret to this product is not only the top quality ingredients...it's that it doesn't need digesting. It mainlines directly into the bloodstream. It's energy to help reset the immune system and combat stress. Without the struggle to digest it when the body systems are already stressed. I get mine at Tractor Supply Company for 6.99 for the smallest bottle which goes a long way. I've used the Bovidr Labs products on my collies and poultry for over a decade. They really work if you need energy for your babies.
    Best regards,
    Karen
    I sincerely hope Greenfire farms is replacing all these lost chicks.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
  3. MrsBachbach

    MrsBachbach Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have used grow gel here on chicks at home. Some like it, some don't. But, I do wonder if it was properly hydrated prior to putting it in the box. If you ever hydrated the stuff, add a bit of water and it expands, add a bit more and it expands more. You can keep adding water to the stuff and at some point it will stop expanding, but, what if it didn't get enough water put in it?
    Just some thoughts, but if the chicks eat it and it isn't properly hydrated, will it expand in the chicks? Will it dehydrate them, absorbing the water in their systems? I really don't know, but it is strange. Especially for you to still be losing some in the days after receiving them.
    One other thing, check the manufacture date of your feed. Shouldn't be older than three months.
    I have had a very hard time finding fresh feed this past summer. I like Nutrena but it is impossible to find it fresh anywhere. One place was trying to sell me feed that was over a year old. It smelled awful.
     
  4. elkinsacres

    elkinsacres Out Of The Brooder

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    Update:

    I am now down to five Twentse chicks. No obvious issues, just failure/refusal to thrive. What's worse is that these birds had no GroGel staining whatsoever. I fully expected these more vigorous in the lot to have better survivability, but, alas, they just don't.

    Greenfire chicks are the ONLY chicks that have exhibited this behavior for me. ALL of my birds were raised here on our farm. Eggs incubated in-house from a few sources. Chicks came in from a few sources. ALL chicks raised the same - same brooders, same feed, same water, etc.

    I'm really hoping to here from others that have purchased chicks from Greenfire to see if my problems are unique or is there is some 'secret ingredient' I am missing. Needless to say, I am incredibly disappointed. At this point, I figure these Twentse chicks will be a total loss. Greenfire has offered a refund for all dead chicks after 72 hours, but I want living, healthy chicks that will become vigorous, productive birds. I'd also like to erase this experience as it has been totally demoralizing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
  5. MrsBachbach

    MrsBachbach Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe they are carrying something? There are a few diseases that will take chicks in the first week(s) of life. The university isn't far from you. Maybe they will do a necropsy for you. Or there is a Springdale number on this Arkansas Livestock Commission Form that you could call and ask them how you submit for one.
    http://alpc.arkansas.gov/lab/Documents/aviansubmission.pdf

    It's not abnormal for one or two to fail to thrive, but your numbers are much higher. I think something is going on.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
  6. elkinsacres

    elkinsacres Out Of The Brooder

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    I thought the same thing with the Niederrheiners. Greenfire states very clearly that their flock is sterling, that theirs is one of the most intensely monitored in the country because of their imports.

    I'll check with the Extension Office on Monday, just to be sure. My only reservation is what if they DO find something? Having my flock quarantined...or destroyed...would be terrible.

    Oh well. This seems to fall into the 'has to be done' category to me...
     
  7. lewlew

    lewlew Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm replying to subscribe, I'm so sorry for your losses. I was just on their website yesterday looking at all their chickens.
     
  8. MrsBachbach

    MrsBachbach Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, maybe it does have something to do with the grow gel. Let us know what you find out.
     
  9. elkinsacres

    elkinsacres Out Of The Brooder

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    Elkins, AR
    After your comments indicating the need for proper preparation of the GroGel, I'm leaning towards that being the problem. At first, I thought it was the dye in it. I mean, why does it need to be dyed at all? But then I started thinking about what you said regarding hydration. What if the gel wasn't fully hydrated? What if it was, then it dried out during transit? What effect does all of that have on the birds that consume it?

    I'll do a search of the BYC forum for GroGel and see what I find. This has me really curious...
     
  10. CaseyV

    CaseyV Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Please let us know what you find out, I was thinking about ordering chicks fron them. Thanks.
     

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