Losing chicks, help! UPDATE

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by nurturingnaturally, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. nurturingnaturally

    nurturingnaturally Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 30, 2010
    Ok...so I am sure this has been asked, and covered ad nauseum, but bear with me ( I am new, first post). So, on Saturday, we got 10 baby BuffOrp chicks from our feed store (we've never had chicks before, but it was a planned purchase, lol). I asked how old, he said somewhere between 1-2 weeks. I think most were closer to 1, a couple are older (more feathered out, bigger). When purchased, they all had bright eyes, no pasty butt, alert, etc. None in the brooder at the store looked sick either. At home, we have them in our entry way (which the front door is never used and there is no heat vent right there to cause drafts. They are in a rubermaid type tube (like 3.5feet long, a foot and a half wide and 2 feet tall) on pine shavings with food and water. They have a chick feeder and one I made myslef so they all have access to it. Water is a one gallon one, that we add about 1/2 TBS of ACV to. The water is refilled daily and cleaned of shavings whenever I walk by and see shavings in it (at least 89billion/day, lol). We feed them starter/grower from Del's (20% protein) and add a tiny bit of chick grit becuase the guy at the store said there isn't any in there. They have two lamps, both 100 watt, that I raise and lower according to their behavior. They are handled daily and checked for pasty butts (none). They were all fine the first few days

    So, 3 nights ago, we lost one overnight. Didn't surprise me, sounds like some loss is normal. Then yesterday, one of the was really really lethargic, wouldn't stand etc. I seperated her into her own brooder, with a towel, a lamp, water, food. I syringe fed her some sugar water (which she drank) and wet some food crumbles (not really interested. I syringed her some more water after a couple hours, gave her a bit of yougurt (ate a bit when i dipped her beak in it), and dipped her beak in water a few times(she drank). She moved around a little bit(moved further from her lamp, so I raised it a bit). She did poo a couple times, but it wasn't bloody, not the height of normal (maybe shedding some intestinal lining, from looking at pics online). Anyhow, I am shocked she made it as long as she did. She was alive this am when hubby left for work, but not when I got up 3 hours later.

    Here's the rub, we also lost one last night before bed (pretty sure I bumped a lamp and it got too hot (finally put a thermometer in there and the spot she was was too hot. We lost one overnight (don't know what happened, hubby took care of it and I haven'y talked to him yet), and when I got up we had lost 2! Sick chick, which I expected, and another one. So we are down to 5!

    It's frustrating, because I don't know what is happening! Is it really because we didn't use medicated feed? We chose not to, with the idea that we prefer to not medicate "just because"...but with a 50% loss so far...I don't know. Maybe we should switch. And now I am a bit worried about having too few (heading into what is supposed to be a hard winter, for us) in the coop for them to keep warm, not to mention eggs for 2 families come spring...

    So, all that to ask, what the heck? Should we switch to medicated feed? Is there something we can give instead to help them be healthier? At about 2 weeks, should they be on paper towels instead? What do we do? I know some loss is to b expected, but half?

    Thanks all for your help...I don't want to lose more of these babies!

    ps, I know they are going to outgrow the brooder, so I am almost done building a huge one (2x6)

    UPDATE: So all 5 made it through the night. I left only the one light on, right under it is 95ish, and they do come right under the light at times, so I am leaving it at that temp for now. All seemed well this am, but now one of the smaller ones is having trouble walking/standing, and is getting more and more lethargic! What the heck is going on?!? I am going to the feed store tonight, to get electrolytes and organic feed...is there something else I should be doing? I know losing half isn't normal, and if this one goes too, it will be 6/10 that die! What am i doing wrong?
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    The only thing that strikes me is, do they have room to get out from under the heat? Two lamps in a tub that size sounds like too much. I would put one lamp at one end and leave the other end cooler. Baby chicks aren't meant to be that warm all the time. When they're raised by momma hen, they're out from under her a fair amount, then go back to warm up. I keep the lamp at one end of the brooder and put the food and water at the other end to encourage them to move around. They choose where they want to go based on how warm they want to be. They're pretty good at self-regulating how warm to be. Other than that, I don't know. Shouldn't be the non-medicated feed, I'm with you on that one. I've brooded nine chicks this year in three different batches and haven't lost one.
  3. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    I agree with donrae about the heat,
    you can also try adding electrolytes to the water, which you can get at your feed store.
    I give all my chicks rooster booster electrolytes even the ones I hatch here.
    I also change the water several times a day to keep it cool, clean and fresh.
  4. nurturingnaturally

    nurturingnaturally Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 30, 2010
    Thanks. They can get out from under the heat, and I forgot to mention I did actually turn one off last night (the one closer to the main food and water. Electrolytes, I will get some of that when we go to the feed store (tonight or tomorrow).
  5. nurturingnaturally

    nurturingnaturally Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 30, 2010
    UPDATED...please help me out...is this something that elctrolytes will fix, really?

    another Update...

    Okay, so pretty sure she isn't going to make it. She was laying on her back a minute ago, I flipped her over, she will open her eyes and peep a bit, but fling her head over/aroiund backwards...I don't get it, what the heck is going on? Is this some obvious disease I should know about, but don't?
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  6. 42Chickens

    42Chickens Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 8, 2010
    Dillsboro, Indiana
    I kinda sounds like a toxin in your birds or the lack of Riboflavon. There are a few things that baby chicks need to survive. What are you feeding them?

    I started loosing some of my hatches all of the sudden right about week one. It was mid June and hot in the house so I used a regular light bulb to ease up on the heat.
    I didn't know what to do and it was heart breaking. I read that they need the starter feed. I also bought the electo's. I went and bought some beef liver, boilded it and bought a food blender and shredded the cooked liver. I mixed the liver pebbles with the chicken food and the ones that remained popped out of the poor condition. Oh, yeah, I also pulled them into some natural sunlight into the bedroom.

    I did some research and that worked for me. I was blending the Layena Pellets in a coffee grinder for the babies and I guess they were not getting the proper nutrients and dying off. I saved six of the nine I hatched out. It was aweful for my three. A slow death like you described. I freaked out and there is almost too much info out there. I had them in all kind of conditions before I finally settled on a solution.
  7. nurturingnaturally

    nurturingnaturally Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 30, 2010
    Thanks Searcy, it is so sad, and so frustrating [​IMG] !

    the chick died a little bit ago [​IMG] ...went from basically fine to dead in 3-4 hours...I just don't get it. The other 4 look okay, but so did all the others "before"

    My current "fix" is covering the bedding up (pine shavings) with paper towels to see if that helps. I plan on buying electrolytes at the feed store tonight/tomorrow. I will also be getting some fresh food (and getting starter, instead of starter/grower), and getting organic (maybe a bad batch of food?) I really want to get some nipple waterers going, and have a pm in to Neil here, but no word back so far, so I may have to just order them online (I think they will keep water cleaner), but I may pick up a rodent waterer for them in the meantime.

    Sounds like I should get some vitamins for them too; poly vi sol w/o iron, right? How much do you give/chick/day? In a dropper, or in the water? Should I grind their food for a few days, make sure they are really eating it, or should switching to starter (instead of starter/grower) take care of that? Should I be giving them anything additional, now? Or what if they start to show sick signs?

    I am building a new brooder, should be done tonight. It is 6feet long, 2 feet deep, and 2 feet tall, and has hardware cloth front doors. It will be on legs so we can see in it, and they can see us better too. I was planning on putting it in our entryway, where the current one is. No drafts (we don't use that door), on tile, out of the way...But maybe I should put it somewhere else, where they can get some natural light?

    Next main question...I really planned to have 8ish chicks going through winter here, not 4 (and that's assuming these 4 make it)...I know it is better to intro chicks in similar sizes...Is it a really bad idea to pick a few from the feed store that are on the bigger side (so they are similar size to these guys)?

    thanks for your help and support everyone, this is tough. I hate feeling like I don't know what I'm doing...nothing like a few itty bitty fuzz balls to humble me right? I guess I am more clueless than I thought. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  8. nurturingnaturally

    nurturingnaturally Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 30, 2010
    So, my questions from my last post still stand...anyone?

    BUT, I have put paper towels over the shavings, and they are all chowing now on the food...like eating a ton! maybe they were eating shavings before, at least the youngest ones? I have seen the big one pick up shavings, then drop them...hmm. I wonder if they were just scratching for food, instead of getting it from the feeders (I did see them using the feeders some though)...so weren't getting enough? Or were too busy exploring to eat? I don't know, grasping at straws I guess. I hope the worst is over
  9. HeritageHens

    HeritageHens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 9, 2010
    I'm sorry for your losses!!

    I'm not a pro so take this for what it's worth - - -

    I believe that 95 degrees is for the first week. If yours are about 2 weeks, it should be down to 90 degrees. I put the heat lamp at one end and the food/water dishes almost at the other end of the brooder - on the edge of the heat range.

    I also chose to feed unmedicated food for the same reason so don't automatically assume that is the reason. If you are buying a locally made food, just make sure it's a good quality food. It's always possible that something bad got into the food. I started out with Nutrena and will NEVER use that food again - I'm using the Magill Ranch organic Cascade chick starter but transitioning over to the grower.

    As far as introducing ages, I was told that there was a 3 week window to successfully integrate chicks. I spread my purchases out over about 2.5 weeks and there were no issues whatsoever.
  10. keeko

    keeko Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2009
    Asheville, NC
    I know I'm a few days late to this post, but thought I'd try to help anyway.

    I agree with the others 95 degrees and two heat lamps is too much, even if they're a week old. They should be down to 90, and in the even some are actually around 2 weeks old, they should be down to 85 degrees. They should have the opportunity to get out of the heat if they want it. I've read to put the heat lamp near one side, and the food/water near the other side, so they have to walk back and forth and get a little exercise. Of course don't put the food/water so far away it's too cold and they never eat!

    Sounds like you might have been on to something with the paper towels. Mine were over the shavings bit by week 2, but you don't know about these guys (what were they on at the feed store? shavings? cardboard?).

    Also, I'm curious as to if they were vaccinated? Of course if they were, you shouldn't be giving them medicated feed. But it could be something like coccidiosis or Marek's, you might not be seeing all the symptoms (bloody stool in cocci means it's very far progressed, and your chicks wouldn't make it past that).

    I would strongly advise AGAINST introducing new chicks right now. If they do have something contagious, you'll just be sentencing the others to a sad death. Give them some more time to see if they make it, and perk up. If they do, and they continue eating and drinking well, and their droppings look good, then you can bring in more. You might consider giving them medicated feed? It's possible that's what they were on at the feed store, and then got abruptly switched and haven't built up a resistance to something like cocci.

    If you do lose these guys and start a new brood, either use a different brooder, or bleach the crap out of this one. The same goes for the feeder and waterer too.

    I'm so sorry you had to go through this - not the best introduction to keeping chickens! Good luck and keep us posted!

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