Help...Need input as to why lost chicks in foster situation.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Lady of McCamley, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Okay...I just lost my 8th chick in a foster situation and am SO frustrated. [​IMG]

    I would appreciate your input as to what may have happened. (Photo is about 3 days can see the last Wynadotte below and the 3 healthy hatchlings)...story (long...sorry) below:


    My tale of woe:

    I wanted to go the natural way with a broody hen this year as we burned down a coop a couple of years ago with a heat lamp.

    Last spring I purchased a proven broody/foster mommy Blue Silkie and watched for her to go broody this spring...She sat on 5 mutt eggs from a friend and hatched 3 (other 2 proved infertile) and THOSE hatchling mutt chicks are doing fabulously well. (Good grief...they are growing leaps and bounds.)

    On day 2 of hatchlings, I purchased a 2 day old Gold Wynadotte and Silver Wynadotte from local farm store. They both died over the next 2 days. Store expert and I figured it was stress due to the fact they went from farm to store to my home and that I kept them warm but in a box until night when I introduced them to the Foster mom (who took them in without any problem).

    Okay...replaced those with set no. 2 of Gold Wynadotte and Silver from the same store batch. Silver died about 1 week later on what appeared to be a stupid chick trick...found it dead behind a partial dividing board I had left in, away from the hatchlings/Banty.

    Removed what I thought might be the offending board and replaced 2nd dead Silver with 3rd Silver from same batch, same farm store...hatchlings and 1st Gold were doing fine. 3rd Silver died within 2 days. No idea why...just limp on the straw.

    At this time I also notice one of the hatchlings was walking on toes funny, and after reading, asking questions, and checking with Vet Tech daughter decide it would be a good idea to put in Vitamin/Electrolyte in the water. All chicks had equal access...the "gimpy" chick took to the vitamin water immediately. The farm store expert told me explicitly (I WROTE IT DOWN in front of her and quoted it back) 1 tsp per quart; 1 tb per gallon. I discovered a week later when searching for how long to leave them on the Electolyte/Vitmain mix that the manufacturer recommends 1/8 tsp per quart; 1/2 tsp per gallon. [​IMG] Vet Tech daughter said don't panic, consider it a "loading dose" as they'd only been on it a week and give them clear water for a day or so and then the correct dose...which I did. Everyone was fine and that was almost 1 1/2 weeks ago.

    The hatchlings and 2nd Gold were on Purina Medicated Chick I also put in the organic chick scratch/feed from the feed store in case it was a feed issue. All chicks had access to all feed. 2nd Gold seemed to prefer the organic chick scratch that she had from the store. When the medicated feed ran out, I did not replace it but simply left in the organic feed.

    As Banty teaching chicks to scratch and tossing straw aside I did add some pine shavings (well dried ...I know the arguments by those against and those who swear they've never had issues with pine shavings) to help the "gimpy" chick from splaying feet on hard wood.

    Okay, back to Wynadotte thread...with 3rd dead Silver, I decide to simply purchase a different breed...this time a Partridge Chantecler from the same feed store, same bin, with my replacement exchange. The PC died within 2 days...I think maybe because she appeared smaller and the others were doing so well and running around that Mom was not sitting as long at a time and the small PC just got too cold since she did not seem to know to run to the Banty?????

    At this point I give up on introducing any new chicks but declare myself happy with 4 healthy chicks and out of "replacement hell" with this feed store.

    Foster Hen has been an EXCELLENT mommy, very caring and patient, never rejecting any chick....3 hatchlings always doing very, very well and the 2nd little Gold had bonded very well with Banty...ran to her and snuggled right in....and seem to be doing okay...I did notice she seemed to be still pretty small...noticebly small compared to the 3 mutt hatchlings and did not appear to have grown a lot in the 2 1/2 to 3 weeks...but she was running around well and eating so I'd figured it was the fact that Wynadottes mature more slowly????

    Today at week 3, I just pulled the 2nd Replacement Gold chick out dead after having her for nearly 2 1/2 weeks. I am at a loss.

    I can contemplate it MIGHT have been the fact I was really busy today and did not get out until much later in the day (daughter's bridal shower) and that their water feeder (which was still 1/3 full) had been clogged with the wood shavings (damp)...but the others were fine and nobody was dying of thirst when I put in the fresh water feeder.

    Any ideas???? I know it can be trickier to place foster chicks...but is there something else at play???? Other than my "newbie" stupidity?????[​IMG]

    Thank you so much to those who hung in there reading my long story to offer advice
    Lady of McCamley
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
  2. thehackleguy

    thehackleguy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Sounds like you are doing things right, sometimes it just don't work out well. The only way I foster is to foster eggs or day old chicks. I have not had any luck with chicks older than a day or two in a foster situation.
  3. MamaManda

    MamaManda Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 2, 2011
    SW Washington
    My Coop
    Do you have a heat lamp in with the broody hen and babies? I've had a similar situation occur with my broody Wyandotte. I always introduce at night, and she is always VERY accepting of the chickies. The problem, I have found, is that they are not used to her, or her calls, or her trying to keep them warm. They shy away from her for some time, because they are not used to being under a hen or being "mothered'. She will cluck and spread her wings trying to get on top of them all, but they shy away, and if she can get them under her, it's not for long.

    The hen seems to have more trouble getting them to latch to her the older they are. 4 day old are the oldest I've tried sticking under a broody, and they ended up being raised in a brooder, even though the hen was willing. I am 4 days into the same situation, and have done things a little differently this time around. Last time I put them under the hen without a heat lamp nearby, and lost 4. This time I have the heat lamp in the enclosure so that if they aren't willing to be under the hen right away, they will still be warm. During the day, most of the chicks are under the lamp, but they seem to be getting used to her little calls for food and will come back to her. At night, after dark, I go out and put all the chicks under her so they get used to being under her, and I'm assuming that as they get used to her calls over the next few days, there won't be any more problems.

    Introducing chicks to a broody can be very touch and go...sometimes it seems the hen is willing, but if you watch her a lot, you'll notice she'll occasionally peck at certain ones once in a while, and take them under her wing later, only to abuse them again a couple hours later, which lowers the chicks strength and chances of survival, of course. I had a Buff Orp Broody who only accepted the light colored foster chicks I gave her, and pecked at the others til I removed them.

    I'd keep a really close eye on her behavior, and maybe wait til her next broody period to give her anymore?
    Good Luck!
  4. gimmie birdies

    gimmie birdies Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 12, 2013
    Eastern WA
    sometimes the mom is willing but the chicks are not. you might not have seen that part. it happened to me. the mom is willing and sitts on the chicks that want to be sat on. but a standoffish chick might just go to the corner and freeze.
  5. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Thank you so much for the feedback. You confirm some thoughts for me.

    No, I didn't put in a heat lamp (which I suspicion was part of the problem in our cold NW Oregon February) as I really, really didn't want to risk electricity out to the coop again since it's not wired..(we have to run an extension cord from the house right now and the fire nearly burned back to the house along the cord and set the house on fire!) I really need to go "natural."

    I think 5 of the 7 died from not bonding and simply freezing rather than going to the willing Banty.

    I suspicion one (the Silver 4 day old chick) was due to "stupid chick" that got lost behind the partition board...which would have been a good chick had it survived. (Removed board, lesson learned) as it was stronger and larger than the Gold 4 day old.

    But this last survivor (that Gold 4 day old) had bonded very well...I've never seen the Banty peck it. It is colored the same as the Banty. It truly seemed to be getting along okay...I did not watch for great lengths so an occasional rejection might have happened...but I never saw one. I will keep that in mind for my next project.

    That said...truth be told this Gold was not really growing. In 2 1/2 weeks it was still almost the same size as I bought it. Hmmmm. That one could have been simply beyond my control. I think the lack of ready palatable water MIGHT have been the "last straw" for a weak system?

    Ah well...I can console myself that the fertile egg hatch was a 100% success with those eggs that were fertile (making it a 60% hatch rate)...and those chicks are doing AWESOME.

    Next time...I will be willing to put more fertile eggs under the Banty, even spend the $ to buy the breeds I want, and perhaps candle much sooner to swap out the eggs that won't hatch (I candled too late to swap out eggs). It seems what she hatches she keeps alive, and the hatched chicks bond to her and know what to do. Amazing how providential nature has it figured out.

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