HELP! Showgirl chicks keep dying

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by WoolyMantis, Feb 26, 2017.

  1. WoolyMantis

    WoolyMantis Just Hatched

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    I posted about this in the silkie/showgirl FB group and have gotten a few comments but really would like to find out the cause of this and if this is actually normal.

    Please constructive comments only, I am writing out as much detail below as possible to try and avoid unnecessary or rude commenting!

    I bought a large group of Showgirls last Sunday, about 25-30 chicks, some had just hatched in the incubator on the drive to meet me. It was about a 2 1/2 hr drive, we kept them in 2 boxes with hand warmers.

    Within the last week a total of now 10 chicks have died

    I have them separated into 2 groups in 2 brooders based on size.
    The larger, healthier looking ones are in a 30 gal. rubbermaid tote w/ 2 heat lamps, 1 is a 250watt that is raised approx. 6 inches above the top, the other is a 60 or 65 watt night heat lamp that belonged to my gecko, it is resting on the rim of the brooder closer to the chicks. Before adding the 2nd lamp the chicks were all piling on top of each other and suffocating and dying. now this group spreads out nicely and i haven't had a death since seperating them and adding the 2nd lamp.

    however my tiny, weak looking chicks are in a 10 or 15 gallon fishtank with a 250watt lamp, i had the temp at around 87 degrees, people in the FB group told me to raise it, it has been at 94 degrees for the last couple days, they haven't been piling on top of each other but they keep dying. i had 3 die today.

    i check on them constantly, i have even been giving them droppers of water to make sure they're getting enough fluids. They eat fine, really they look fine until one randomly dies!!

    I feed them medicated feed, i add hard boiled egg bits in with them, i have been giving them vitamin water lately, though am wondering if i should stop or add both plain water and vitamin water

    The Breeder informed me that it is normal to have a 50% death rate with silkies and showgirls, this seems crazy to me but i am new to this breed. I consider myself a very good mama hen and responsible breeder, I have raised at least 150 chicks of my own, not silkies, and have only had a couple deaths. I do not know what else I can possibly do at this point, I have an avian vet that is.....not sure of the proper term...kinda dumb when it comes to chickens, I actually had to school her on them when I brought a sick rooster in, so taking them there is not an option at all.
    I have saved the last 3 dead bodies and am now looking into having necropsy's done just to be sure there is nothing else going on but do not know where to take them. Is there a place you can ship birds to for this??

    Any advice would be wonderful, and please silkie/showgirl breeders let me know if 50% death rate is normal for this breed, i don't know if i can continue breeding them if i have to deal with such a high mortality rate, it is too depressing!! i have 3 1/2 dozen eggs set in the incubator and want to have this under control before they hatch​
     
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchaholic Extrordinaire Premium Member

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    So, it sounds like at first your temperature was low, but that's been corrected. However you mention the temperature is now 94 degrees - is that just under the heat lamp or in the whole aquarium? Aquariums can easily heat up, especially a small one like a ten gallon. They need a place to get out from under the heat and cool down if they need to.

    What type of bedding are you using? Since you had trouble with the temps have you been checking for pasty butt? Pasty butt is often caused by incorrect temperatures.

    What vitamin supplement are you adding to the water?

    50% death rate is not normal, no. If the breeder is getting that regularly either they are not taking proper care of their chicks or their breeding stock is unhealthy.
     
  3. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    I wish I could help, but I do not know this breed. We are a compassionate group here on BYC, no need to fear hostility.
    Best,
    Karen

    that's right ! A 250 heat bulb is way too much for that small glass tank! Good Pyrix! Do you have thermometers in the both brooders? They should be at the level of the chick's backs. Even better is a hygrometer to measure both temp and humidity. Walmart sells a cheap one.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  4. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    Also 250 red infrared bulbs and incandescents work in different ways. The infrareds are designed to heat objects in their realm of influence. The incandescents just give off heat as a result of them being on. The objects in that realm of influence just can take advantage of that heat. I don't know how much heat these breeds need, but you may just be cooking them what with both a 250 red infrared bulb and the glass sides of the aquarium to reflect the heat. If it was me, I would move down to a 60 or 85 watt incandescent. Just don't use any bulb that is Teflon coated as they give off carbon monoxide which kills birds of all ages. Such bulbs might be labeled "outdoor" or "Ruff" or "Rugged" bulbs. The ingredient list will say Teflon on it.
    Best,
    Karen
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  5. WoolyMantis

    WoolyMantis Just Hatched

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    sorry, i am also chatting on the FB group about this and was asked the same, the temp on the colder side is at 75, the heat lamp is angled to just hit about half of the brooder and the side it's hitting is at 94
     
  6. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    could they be getting too much salt? Electrolytes have salt in them. What's the humidity in the aquarium? Could they be dying of dehydration? Where is the thermometer? It should be at the level of their backs.
    Best Regards,
    karen
    I brooded a bunch in a 50 gal. aquarium once and had a heat problem. I was really surpised how much warmer it got with the glass sides and had to reduce the heat because of it. I wonder if the glass could also be dehydrating the air down there? That's a thought.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  7. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchaholic Extrordinaire Premium Member

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    That's good, can you answer my other questions too? Maybe we can get this pinned down for you. Of course it may turn out that it's just bad breeding stock, especially since the breeder says they normally get 50% mortality.
     
  8. WoolyMantis

    WoolyMantis Just Hatched

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    Bedding is pine shavings, i have been giving them sav-a-chick in their water as well as the tub of vitamins and electolytes with lacto bacillus, only gave them that in their water recently
    yes a few of them have had pasty butt issues, pretty badly, i just finished rinsing their butts a bit ago which is why it took me a while to get back here.
    Though all but 2 that have died did not have the pasty butt issue

    i am wondering if worms might be a cause, one has fresh poo on it's butt that i just rinsed off, it had been piling, but it was very, very stinky, unlike the others that didn't really smell, it was fresher though so that may be why. it almost looked like a tapeworm type thing was in it...but i am pretty sure that was just the fresh poop and my imagination trying to find a cause. The pasty butt issue seems to be with the same 3 or 4, 1 died days ago that had poopy butt
     
  9. WoolyMantis

    WoolyMantis Just Hatched

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    The humidity is at 10% on the hot side and 30% on the cooler side right next to the water dish
     
  10. WoolyMantis

    WoolyMantis Just Hatched

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    i just added the 250 watt bulb to the tank 2 nights ago due to FB group saying to add more heat. i did order a large heatplate off amazon the other day that is supposed to be here tomorrow and will be using that instead, i despise heat lamps in general but really hate the 250 watt and don't normally even use them
     
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