Lesson Learned: Ammonia and swollen eyes, my poor chicks.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by lotzahenz, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. lotzahenz

    lotzahenz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 28, 2008
    Lexington, Kentucky
    I do chicken 'chores' twice a day. I have my chicks brooding in 2x10 brooder, divided in half. In one side I have 7 week old birds, the other side I have 5 week old birds and both are growing fast and looking great. A couple of days ago, I smelled an ammonia smell in the coop, so in the back of the coop where the hens roost it seemed to be extra dirty. I limed it and added about 6 inches of shavings, as it was too cold to clean out the deep litter. It was not at all wet. Problem solved. Wrong! Today, I was holding one of my favorite and overly friendly 7 week old chicks and noticed he had a swollen eye. It was a little watery and I assumed he was pecked in the eye. No signs of any disease, all the other chicks look great. Tonight, I went out to try some new wing bands on this little flock and upon close inspection, lots of swollen eyes, 4 chicks with two eyes swollen shut. Now, 4 hours later, problem solved (I sure hope) after reading quickly through every chicken disease here and in my "Chicken Health Handbook' I decided to try and quarantine the few with swollen eyes. I was getting them out of the brooder with deep litter of very fine pine shavings and could smell ammonia, strong. I quickly removed them all and started digging out the litter which is actually very clean, but WET on the bottom. Using one gallon chick waters, they must constantly leak! It was sopping wet UNDER the clean bedding, which I add every couple of days. The other side, with the younger chicks is dry, and I as of today am switching waterers! I just made my first nipple waterer with a 2 gallon tea pitcher, it works great. I will now check every few days for ammonia: get down ONE foot off the ground and breath (per G. Damerow). You really could not smell it at my usual level, like 3 feet. I also think I need to drill some ventilation holes down near the bottom of the brooder boards. All my babies are now tucked into horse water troughs with new dry bedding, and I am making more nipple waterers. It is just almost impossible to keep bedding dry with traditional water containers.

    Lesson: Check bedding at chick level often and throw away waterers! I am feeling guilty, but not finding anything current on the forum, I wanted to share my experience. I have diagnosed ammonia blindness (conjunctivitis), not a bad problem in terms of disease but a horrible coop management error. HenZ
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    Thanks for sharing your experience, I'm sure it will speak to alot of us.
  3. lotzahenz

    lotzahenz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 28, 2008
    Lexington, Kentucky
    You are welcome. Update, I have lost 5 of my very special chicks and feel bad. Supposedly, it takes about two weeks until the birds are over it. I have about 10 that still show signs of swollen eyes, and the ones that died did so from dehydration. They cannot see to get to the water and food.
  4. clairabean

    clairabean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    [​IMG] Thanks for sharing your story.

    [​IMG] Sorry you learned by loss.
  5. CrimsonRose

    CrimsonRose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2008
    Southern Ohio
    [​IMG] it's an easy mistake to make... hope all the other babies turn out ok!

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