Help Me Save My Chicks!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by platinum, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. platinum

    platinum Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 8, 2013
    I am new to this forum. I am also new to chickens, and I am so happy I discovered how great they are!

    I was researching chickens, and decided to take the plunge a few weeks ago and ordered chicks from mypetchicken. This weekend however, I was at Tractor Supply and couldn't help myself. I bought 6 assorted bantams.

    Now I'm feeling a little down thought. I'm really having fun with my chicks and I am glad I got them, but they keep dying!

    The first death I knew was going to happen when I got the chick. She looked near death in the bin, but she was the one my husband said he wanted, even thought I pointed out she looked near death. I suppose he thought he could bring her back to life. Unfortunately, this did not happen. I found her dead the morning after we got her.

    I was also horrified to discover one of my very sweet, furry legged bantams seemed to be lethargic. She had been running around, eating and drinking yesterday so I don't know what caused this. I dipped her beak in the water, and she seemed to drink a little. I tried to feed her yogurt, as I saw on the forum it would help, but other than that I didn't know what I could do for her. I found her dead later that day. As a side note, if anyone knows what breed of bantam has furry legs and chipmunk markings, I would be very interested in knowing! She was so sweet and friendly I would love to have one like her.

    I immediately made plans to get a replacement bantam as I have never seen bantams last very long at TSC. I got two replacements, both of which were chosen specifically because they seemed energetic and full of life. 12 hours later, one of them was dead. It acted the same way as the others, lethargic, and then it was gone.

    Last night, I had yet another chick acting lethargic. This one had slightly more movement, but was not interested in "the mealworm game" that we were playing with the other. It kind of followed, but not keeping up. I expected it would be dead when I woke up this morning.

    Instead, I had a different surprise. Last night, my husband accidently turned off the heat lamp. It was a reflex thing, the light in plugged into the outlet controlled by the switch, and he hit it as he left the room.

    So my poor chicks ended up spending a night in the cold. I fully expected all of them to be dead. Instead, I saw 4 of them bunched together, but alive, and the fifth laying a few inches away, sprawled out on it's side. I thought it was dead. I didn't move it immediately as my dogs were eager to pee and I needed to get them out. I left to go take care of the other animals.

    About 45 minutes later, I came back to check on the chicks. Four of them were romping about happily, eating, drinking and kicking up shavings, and the fifth was still lying in the same spot. I moved to pick it up to depose of it, but when I touched it, it moved. I was shocked. I poked it again, and it moved again.

    I carefully righted it so it was sitting like a normal chick. I started dipping droplets of water in it's mouth. It was drinking them. I did this for about 5 minutes. The chick was not interested in eating, so food was left directly in front of it. We had to leave for work, so now the chick will be alone until tonight.

    I am so worried about the sick chick, and concerned about the other dying off too. Is this kind of mortality rate normal? How can I stop my chicks from dying? They are toasty warm, they have food and water, and I put yogurt in with them until they decided they weren't going to eat it.

    Please tell me how to keep my chicks alive! What can I do for them when they start acting sick? Is this sickness contagous and that's why they are getting it? Or is it some kind of shock? I feel like I see people on here buying x amount of chicks, and they still have x amount of chickens weeks/months/years later. It's something I'm doing wrong!

    [​IMG]This is how I feel about my poor chicks right now - and I'm wondering if my group from mypetchicken is doomed just by entering my home.
  2. GoldDogsMom

    GoldDogsMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2011
    Indiana, PA
    Some questions...

    What temp is your brooder? (If too hot they will stay away from heat source, too cold they will huddle together under heat source-either can cause lethargy.

    What are you feeding them?

    Have you tried adding electrolytes? Like sav-a-chik?

    What is the bedding? I ask this because some people use cedar chips which can be harmful to chicks.
  3. platinum

    platinum Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 8, 2013
    I don't know what the exact temperature is, but they do not huddle underneth the light. If they are awake they are all over the place. I have the box they came with in there set up like a little hut, and they sometimes go in there to sleep, and then they are all huddled together. Other times they spread out under the light. I did find two of them dead in the box... now I'm wondering if the box is to blame. I just thought they'd like playing in it :( The other one I found dead kind of away from the light, like a third of the way down the bin. So not in the coldest part, but not in the hottest part.

    I'm having trouble remembering what feed I got for them. I want to say it is Manna Medicated Chick Started, but I'm not 100%. It may have been the Dumor brand starter feed. It was a smaller bag I got at tractor supply. It is crumbly, and they seem to like it as far as I can tell. The healthy ones are frequently eating it. I'll have to check which brand when I get home.

    I haven't tried the electrolytes. I will have to get some on the way home today.

    The bedding is pine shavings.

    Thank you!
  4. ryeguy

    ryeguy Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 25, 2012
    Get a cheap thermometer so you can verify the temperature in your brooder. Mix some Save A Chic into the drinking water for all of the chicks. If you get a lethargic one that doesn't want to eat or drink separate it from the others (a little shoe box inside the brooder works for us) and give it some water mixed with sugar. We've had 5 or 6 chicks start to go downhill and that seems to bring them back. Our of the 40 chicks we've raised we've only lost one, a Wyandotte from TSC.
  5. Thespoiledchicken

    Thespoiledchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2011
    Long Island
    What does their poop look like? They could have cocci.

    If they have proper food, water, heat and bedding I might consider adding meds to the water. I know you said they are on medicated chick feed but it is low dose so you might have to treat them with meds in the water. Research Coccidiosis and see if thats it, I believe Sulmet is the treatment of choice.

    Good Luck!
  6. OCpeep

    OCpeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 8, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Are you feeding the chicks mealworms? If so, they need grit in order to digest them. The best thing is probably to just give them the starter feed for now.
  7. platinum

    platinum Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 8, 2013
    I looked up cocci and thankfully my chicks poop doesn't look like that. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it looks like normal poop.

    I will be getting a thermometer, and sav-a-chic, and I will be trying the sugar water for the sick chick.

    Thank you for the heads up on the mealworms. I did have grit in there for a day because I thought it would help them not die, but I took it out because it said on the bag to wait until they are two weeks old. I will refrain from giving them mealworms.

    I'm just hoping the poor chick is still alive when I get home. Thank you for the advice, and I'll let you know how it goes!
  8. GoldDogsMom

    GoldDogsMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2011
    Indiana, PA
    I agree, medicated chick starter only for now. I usually wait until they are a couple weeks old before offering "treats"
  9. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    Chicks with cocci don't always have bloody poop, depending on the strain they pick up. If your chicks have never touched the ground or had access to dirt, I wouldn't be so quick to suspect cocci anyway (though it doesn't mean someone didn't track it in on their shoes or hands or in some other way contaminate the brooder).
    That being said, I'm guessing you might not understand how medicated chick feed works. The Amprollium (the cocci med in the food) stops Thiamine uptake, which cocci thrives on, to keep the protozoa numbers in check. This is just my opinion, so take it for what its worth, but if you aren't giving them soil to introduce them to the bug- they aren't going to build immunity to it anyway. I would loose chicks left and right when I fed medicated starter, so I stopped. I feed gamebird crumbles now, and haven't had a problem since.
    Something else to consider is the bulb in your heat lamp. I went to TSC last week to buy a new lamp bc mine finally bit the dust (of course I picked up a few chicks while I was there too ;) ). Anyway, while looking thru the lamps I noticed the bulbs (these were red bulbs). They were all labled "shatter resistant". What that means is they have a teflon coating to keep them from exploding. When teflon is heated, it releases a toxic gas that will quickly kill small critters (your teflon pans will do the same if you leave them on the hot burner with no food inside). These bulbs are specifically sold in the chick section with the heat lamps, so BEWARE! There are also teflon coated incandescent bulbs, all of them labled shatter resistant or something to hint at them being stronger than normal bulbs.
    Just a few thoughts, hope you figure out what's going on!
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
  10. Fentressfarmer

    Fentressfarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 29, 2013
    Fentress Texas
    If you are shopping at TSC I would buy the purina medicated chick starter/grower feed and only feed that. Don't change their feed up a bunch I've learned through the years that it hard on little stomachs and young animals. I've been using the purina feed on my chicks and have had good results. Don't feel to bad about loosing some chicks it does happen, some of the old timers I talk to said some years they would loose up to half of theirs. I started with 70 chicks and I'm down to 66 now. The first couple of weeks are the hardest for them. But definitely no more mealworms or other treats till they are a lot older. If you can't find sulmet then you might give a little terymican "not sure on spelling" I know they have that at TSC.

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