mushy chick dz ?


11 Years
Mar 16, 2008
Hi - I'm a first-time incubater and first-time poster...We had 13 eggs, and 3 hatched healthy. The fourth pipped out apparently too early and had a bit of "umbilical cord" and has an "outy bellybutton." I had to help him out of his egg after a day of just his beak peaking out - figured why not, if he was going to die anyway....The friend who loaned me the bator and gave me the eggs says the chick will die, that it has the mushy chick disease (omphalitis). It's now a day and a half old and is very active, eating a bit of chick starter, etc. is it possible for this chick to live, or will it start to fail soon? And also if he continues to do well, can I add him to the brooder with the other three, or will he be contagious to them? I read omphalitis is often caused by E. coli, which causes the navel infection...would his poo have E. coli in it that could make them sick? TIA!!
Mushy chick is a result of high humidity for extended periods in the bator prior to hatch. Omphalitis is an infection in the site where the chick is attached to the yolk sac. They are not the same things to the best of my understanding.

Mushy chicks can get better and be just fine as they loose water from their body over a day or two after hatching. If it is eat, rrunning around and acting perfectly well I would put it in with other chicks and keep an eye on it.

The other is an infection and I have no first hand knowledge of the treatment of such an infection. As I do not raise strictly pet chickens I cull sick and weak chicks.
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Thanks I'm even more confused. lol...guess I'll keep an eye on it and maybe add him to the brooder later, if he's still doing well. His belly button doesn't look inflamed/irritated at the moment...I just don't want to infect my healthy chicks. I butcher roos and turkeys with a friend w/o any emotion, but being that these are "my babies" and these will just be in a small coop as our pets, I want to try and give him a chance...
What it's actually suffering from...If it's mushy chick, than it could recover....if it's omphalitis, than it could be the infection/E.coli thing....or it could be one in the same, which is what I gathered from the internet last night....And I guess I'm not concerned about the name, I just need to know if it could harm my others. Clear as mud?
If they were all hatched together they have the same germs. If you are not seeing anything from the stump site on that chick the odds are it is not suffering from the infection described.

Mushy chicks do recover and don't show any worse for wear.

If you keep the chicks separated for long periods of time you will have to re-integrate that chicks into the flock which requires time and effort. It will become dependent on you for attn and will chirp nonstop looking for you. If it is doing fine, eating, running around I would have to think it is perfectly fine to put in with the other chicks. If you notice problems or the others causing harm take it out again.
the two are one in the same....from the MERCK veterinary Manual:
"Omphalitis: Introduction
(Navel ill, “Mushy chick” disease, Yolk sac infection)
Omphalitis is a condition characterized by infected yolk sacs, often accompanied by unhealed navels in young fowl. It is infectious but noncontagious and associated with excessive humidity and marked contamination of the hatching eggs or incubator.
The affected chicks or poults usually appear normal until a few hours before death. Depression, drooping of the head, and huddling near the heat source usually are the only signs. The navel may be inflamed and fail to close, producing a wet spot on the abdomen; a scab may be present. Opportunistic bacteria (coliforms, staphylococci, Pseudomonas spp , and Proteus spp ) are often involved, and mixed infections are common. Proteolytic bacteria are prevalent in outbreaks. The yolk sac is not absorbed and often is highly congested or may contain solidified pieces of yolk material; peritonitis may be extensive. Edema of the sternal subcutis may be seen. Mortality often begins at hatching and continues to 10-14 days of age, with losses up to 15% in chickens and 50% in turkeys. Chilling or overheating during shipment may increase losses. Persistent, unabsorbed, infected yolks often produce chicks or poults with reduced weight gain.
There is no specific treatment; antibiotic use is based on the prevalent bacterial type involved, but is probably of little value. The disease is prevented by careful control of temperature, humidity, and sanitation in the incubator. Only clean, uncracked eggs should be set. If it is necessary to set dirty eggs, they should be segregated from clean eggs. Sanitizing detergents must be used according to directions if eggs are washed. Time, temperature, and frequent changes of water are as critical as the concentration of sanitizer in both wash and rinse water. The rinse should be warmer than the wash water (which should be warmer than the internal temperature of the egg), but should not be >60°C.
The incubator should be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly between hatches. If fumigation is to be done with formaldehyde, vents should be closed. Thirty mL of 40% formaldehyde per 0.6 m3, or paraformaldehyde (in the strength recommended by the manufacturer), should be allowed to evaporate in the closed incubator or hatcher. The machines are readily contaminated after fumigation unless the exterior of the machines and the rooms in which they are located are cleaned and disinfected. "
Thanks SO much! Now that I know it's not contagious, I added it to the brooder...with mixed emotion of course...he's getting the "newbie" treatment - hopefully they mellow out a bit and he doesn't get too pecked/picked on...I'm sure it'll be happier, even with some of the attention being negative. Will plan on him failing at some point, but at least he's out of the bator...
That is a new one on me. I have never heard mushy chick syndrome be called an infection of the yolk sac.

I have learned something new today!
Well, then, I'm glad my question caused some good for somebody else too!

Thanks again, both of you! Have a great day - sun's coming out here in VT finally...hope it stays.

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