How I help weak baby chicks to survive. Hope it is helpful.


In the Brooder
11 Years
Jan 14, 2009
When chicks hatch and get tossed a a box to go for a ride to their new home, they can vary in how long one has been hatched from one to the next. Some have gotten their bearings more than others. A couple of hours makes a big difference.

When you have mail order chicks or any new chicks that are too weak to eat well, I would offer sugar water with a dash of salt, every 20 min and not less than every half hour. But do you have electrolite mix?

There is a green gel also that baby chicks will eat when they have been sent through the mail. I think the word Grow is in the name of it. Maybe it is called Green Grow... Someone will tell us I'm sure. You can order it when you order the chicks. It is only a few dollars.

I always remove weak chicks from the rest of them because they will get trampled to death. Sectioning them off in the brooder is hard to do because they may get too hot or too cold. I lost a baby that way the other day, My Dh thought he had it all under control by making a safe place for her in the corner. He put the light over closer to the corner so she would have plenty of warmth. She wasn't restrained to the corner, but then she didn't know how to leave the corner and the heat killed her. Broke my heart.

I did save a couple of babies just this week by offering them scrambled eggs and cottage cheese. They loved it. The cottage cheese is little segmented pieces and go down easily. Buy the small curd or break up the large curd. 1 teaspoon may be enough to feed three of four newborns. I also feed it to the thriving chicks for a treat.

I mixed some milk and chick feed in the eggs and fried them up in the pan. if you can get the chick to eat even a 1/4 teaspoon to start, it will soon be on its way. Offer it every 30 min and keep water too, but the milk in the eggs makes it soft/tender and gets some liquid into the chick. Be certain to squish it up into tiny pieces so they can handle it.

The first day, I kept the weak chicks in a bandana around my neck. This has worked for several differant chicks even older chicks who need some help, over the years. It is tiring work, but very rewarding.

Once they get enough food and want to move around they are on their way. Just keep your eye on them. If you have two chicks that need the attention, they help keep each other warm, but one or two chicks will survive kept in a bandana around my neck. My husband will take the bandana if I need a break. He wears it around his neck and goes about the buisness of his work. Even meeting clients without a care.

They don't do much pooping when they are too weak to eat much, so that is not a concern, the bandana stays pretty clean. If you are having to get out more than one bandana a day, then they are probably ready to go back to the brooder. You might want to line it with a paper towel, or not. Usually about two days will perk them up. You can take them out of the bandana and hold them in your hands any time you want. Just think warm. Your body heat against theirs is enough.

The catch is that you will need to sleep with them one or two nights. It works out fine for me, I have learned how to position the bandana so they are safe. You won't roll over on them when they are near your neck. If you do roll over in the night their peeps will remind you to reposition them, and they are so sweet it hardly seems an inconvenince.

My husband has turned out to have a very nurturing heart since we have had chickens. I've never seen such a change in a man from double AA personality to kind hearted, do anything they need kind of man.

A mistake I made one time was putting two weak chicks in a box with one of those hand warmers. What a heartbreak, they get way to hot, and the chicks fall asleep on them when they feel just right, and never wake up. The hand warmers just get hotter and hotter.

Another reason this will save a weak chick is that when you have it in the bandana, it hears your breathing and talking, so hum a little tune. Doesn't matter what it is, even a few notes stuck together over and over. When we have done this and been able to save a chick, they have turned out to be some of our favorites. Making low sounds resonates through your bones and they love it. If you know anything about music, hum it in a minor key. "Or just go up and down in half notes". Three notes is plenty. Sometimes I will go with two notes. Listen to thier little peeps and make human sounds that echo them. They will have a conversation with you and before you know it they will "twur" for you. This is the equivelent to a cat's purr. It won't last long, they don't have the strength. But if you get a twur you know they now have the "will to live"! I have decided this is good for any chick, and will often put a couple of chicks and a bandana for a nap. It seems to ground them emotionally, and they are the chickens in the yard who run up to you with greetings, even when they are adults.

If I get angry for any reason, I will have someone else hold the chicks till I am calm. I can't imangine being one of those chick's when I yell at someone. It's a rare thing but worth noting.

Any family member can do this, they just must be concious about not squishing the chick. Normal work, watching tv and any chores you do are ok as long as the chick is against your skin and hears your heartbeat and breath sounds. I have noticed them positioning their head over my bones for the resonance. I put my hand to the bandana as often as I can to warm them and give them another form of maternal contact.This is a precious experience everyone should have.

If you name your chicks, this is a good time to tell them their name.

I know this is long, but it is a subject close to my heart, and I wanted to share with you. I'm lookining forward to finding out how it goes for you.

I would love to hear others comments on this. It is so sad when a chick dies.
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10 Years
Jan 15, 2010
Thank-you for sharing this. I am expecting my first baby chicks the week of the 12th. While I am hoping they will all arrive healthy and happy, it's good to have some ideas of things to do if they need the care.


8 Years
Oct 9, 2011
Thank you for posting this information. I have a bandana around my neck with "Lucky" inside. Lucky was the last of my eggs to hatch and mother hen decided simultaneously that she had had enough sitting. When I checked the nest box, my poor chicky was nearly dead... cold and not very responsive so I scooped it up, put it by a heat source and ran to the internet where I found your post. After only a few hours I checked on Lucky and it bit my finger!! And it's started chirping now and again so I'm hoping things will turn out!!

Thanks so much!!

Oh and if your are wondering why I'm hatching eggs in October... i'm in New Zealand and it's spring time here


7 Years
Jul 10, 2012
Clear Spring, MD
Thank you for your post. It gives hope. But I have no clue how exactly to tie it to me safely. My chick is a silkie on day 4. Cant get solids in her/him but plenty of liquids and goodies. She is still only up to 5ml every two-three hours. She stays awake and can hold her head up long enough for feeding then I prop her back up in her blankie on the heating pad set to low. She gives me soft churps then fast to sleep.


7 Years
Mar 5, 2012
My best "bring-back" cure is a drop or two of Poly-V-Sol (minus iron) mixed with raw egg yoke and dripped down their beak. If you can get even several drops of this mix into a sick or weak bird, they seem to perk right up.


8 Years
Jul 5, 2011
Redkey, IN
I have a weak bird that came today. I have kept it in my bra all day against my skin. I can only get it to drink a few sips of sugar water at a time. I try to do this about every 20 min. It has pooped 3 times watery yellow and black. I can not get it to eat. It is smaller than all the others. Is this normal? when should it start to eat food. It sleeps alot and peeps some when it is awake. It has also purred 2 times today. Any help would be appreciated.


Poultry Lit Chaser
10 Years
May 19, 2009
I have a weak bird that came today. I have kept it in my bra all day against my skin. I can only get it to drink a few sips of sugar water at a time. I try to do this about every 20 min. It has pooped 3 times watery yellow and black. I can not get it to eat. It is smaller than all the others. Is this normal? when should it start to eat food. It sleeps alot and peeps some when it is awake. It has also purred 2 times today. Any help would be appreciated.
This is an emergency. Run down to your local Agway or Tractor Supply and get some Poultry Nutri-Drench. Manufactured under 2 US patents, it will give your chick the energy it needs and the nutrition it is lacking.
Chicks live off their egg sack for the first 36 to 48 hours after hatching. They should only have chick grit(which helps them digest the egg sack). After this time, give them Poultry Nutri-Drench in their water at a rate of 2cc per gallon for the first 2 weeks of life. Give them medicated chick crumbles after they are 36-48 hours old. I have used Bovidr Labs products on my birds and dogs for years. It really works. Is especially good for travel stress and weak neonates.
Best Regards,
Karen Tewart
Waterford English Light Sussex
in western PA, USA

It is very concentrated. You only need the 4 oz. bottle. about $10.00
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6 Years
Jul 6, 2013

I felt compelled to post because I received 15 baby chicks in the mail last week, which were delivered through an unlucky cold spell, and arrived somewhat shocked. When we received them, three had already died in the box, and several more were threatening to follow behind. I found this post, and it gave me the idea of feeding them raw egg. Of course it was the perfect mixture of nutrients and moisture that the chickens needed. We fed them raw egg every hour, and kept them warm under a heat lamp.

The raw egg revived them, but the second most important thing is that they learn to eat on their own, because it is very difficult to keep up with the amount a growing chick needs, they eat nearly constantly. To address this, after feeding them the raw egg, I taught them where the water was by dipping their beak in the water dish and letting them stand in front of it for a bit (water for the first week had 6 tbs of sugar to the gallon). I also sprinkled wheat germ on the towel that they were laying on beneath the heat lamp, so that they could peck at it when they weren't feeling as lethargic, but still not quite strong enough to walk over to the feeder on their own. Having food right in their bedding area, that was super easy to eat, made a huge difference. We ended up losing two more, but saving at least four, which was a miracle considering the condition they arrived in.

Hope this saves more chicks in the future.

Happy chicken keeping!

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