HELP - one dead chick and two sick


6 Years
Sep 25, 2013
I bought 8 approx week old chicks (mixed heritage breeds) from a hatchery nearly a week ago. After a couple of days it was clear that one of the chick was not growing at all and another seemed to be smaller than the others but not so pronounced... but they were feeding and otherwise looked happy. Yesterday I looked in and could see that the others were now double the size of the little one and it wasn't feeding as vigorously as the others... and got pushed around but it was taking food and water. I rang the hatchery and said that particular breed, polish were weaker chicks.

This morning I found that chick dead and another (a speckled sussex) - the other smaller one has poop stuck to its bottom. There was no blood in the poop that I could see and the one that died was pooping ok yesterday. This morning I separated the weaker smaller one and moved the others to a fresh cage with fresh bedding food etc. About 5 minutes ago I noticed that another (hamburg) is looking lethargic! I am assuming it could be a bacteria and am boiling their feeding containers and using sterile bedding.

We are feeding them chick starter sold to us by the hatchery and they are vaccinated.

They have a heatlamp and an area to get away from it if they like - they have clean fresh bedding, food and water - are not kept with any other poultry or livestock (they are on our verandah).

what is going on?
What are they vaccinated for? If they were vaccinated for cocci then you can rule that out provided they have not been fed medicated feed. If they were NOT vaccinated for cocci then that would be my first suspicion when seeing lethargic chicks. Although the chicks that were always smaller/weaker may have had other problems and were not going to thrive no matter what. It happens.

Make sure you clean the poop off the ones that have it stuck to their butt.

Otherwise, if they were not vaccinated for cocci, then I would treat them all with a course of Corid so that you can at least rule out coccidiosis.
You can try adding some Apple Cider Vinegar to the water about a cap full to a pint. You can feed them wet mash from their food and try to offer the lethargic one some gruel with a spoon. It is hard to lose them. I have held many a dying chick over the years and there seems to be no rhyme or reason why some thrive and others fail. It is heart wrenching.

You are on to a good start by sterilizing the feeding implements is a very good idea. Check for mold with your feed Sometimes even medicated feed will mold and it looks lightly greenish. Sometimes mold can be responsible for these losses and you don't even see it at first. It can get under the pine shavings too.

I am so very sorry for your losses and your struggles. You are doing what you can and I hope you don't lose anymore. We are here if you need us on the forum.

I will keep you and your chickadees in my thoughts and prayers.

Thanks for your replies...

I spoke to the hatchery guy and he said they are vaccinated but not for cocci and that it is probably a strain of it that doesn't respond to the medicated feed and to go to the vet and get some stuff to put in the water - so I'm about to go do that. He also said not to isolate the weaker one as the stress will be hard on it and that its best to just medicate the water for all of them.

I said there was no blood in the poo but he advised that not all strains of cocci cause that symptom.

Fingers crossed this works out! I'm a bit of a sucker and spend at least a couple of hours a day just watching them - I hate losing them!

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