1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Mysterious Chick Deaths

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Fleabuskitty, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. Fleabuskitty

    Fleabuskitty Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2011
    I bought 4 chicks that were about 1-2 weeks old on October 8th and then on October 10th had 8 chicks hatch, so there is about a 2 week age difference in some of the chicks. Well, the younger ones are over 7 weeks old now and I guess the others would be 8 or 9 weeks. Anyway, yesterday morning (That was December 1st) I went outside to find three of my chicks dead [​IMG] Two of them were EE mixes and seemd very strong. The other was a RIR mix and was a little "runty" (a little smaller and growing feathers slower), but otherwise healthy. They were all healthy when I checked on them last at about 8 the night before. They looked sort of "squished" and were near the sides of the cage, but I didn't observe the scene too closely or the bodies - I can't handle dead things, my mom's boyfriend does that. It got below freezing that night, but I don't think that the temperature was it or else it seems like it would have effected the others, too. I think that they may have been squished/suffocated by the bigger chicks while they were all huddling together for warmth. Does this happen? Is it likely? That's the coldest it's been so far this winter. Later that day (I had to go to school [​IMG]) I separated the three bigger chicks into another cage and left the smallest of that group with the others. I had brought two chicks that looked a little cold/were being weird and still inside and one went outside last night and the other this morning and when I last checked on them they were fine. Last night they were separated and they were fine in the morning. So what do you think? Did the bigger chicks squish them?
    So far all of the chicks I ever raised had survived, too [​IMG] I think I'm going to refrain from both keeping chicks with a 2 week age difference together and from hatching any later in the year than September from now on...
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    It sounds like they may have been squashed while huddling together for warmth. This is pretty common especially in meat birds who have fewer feathers. I don't think the age difference would be much of a factor because it happens even when all the birds are the same age.

    Sorry for your losses.
  3. Fleabuskitty

    Fleabuskitty Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2011
    They aren't meat birds, and most of them actually have a lot of feathers for their age [​IMG] There were two that were being weird and lethargic that morning but after they were inside for a night I put them back with the rest. They were all acting fine last night but this morning one of them was dead [​IMG] I think that he may have been injured and just hiding it very well? I looked for injuries on them all but they were all fine...
  4. Chicken_Pauper

    Chicken_Pauper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2011
    Southern California
    Maybe you need to put a light on them for warmth, since it is getting so cold... I assume you had them under a light for some time.. then, moved them or removed the light?

    It seems they are getting cold. Most say they don't need a light after five or six weeks of age, after they are completely feathered out... but, maybe yours do if it is very cold there.

    Up to you... so sorry and so sad that you lost some that way... take care.

    Good luck.
  5. Fleabuskitty

    Fleabuskitty Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2011
    They were inside til they were 4 weeks old, and I took the light off the brooder (in the house) when they were about 2.5 weeks old. It is usually about 75 degrees in the house. Then I put them outside and it would get down to about 50 degrees at night, then after they were out for a couple weeks it started getting down to about 40 degrees. They were fine then, but I wasn't expecting it to get down to 30 degrees. After that I did put a light on their cage. Right now, yes, there is a light.
  6. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 19, 2010
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    It's commonly referred to as "pile-ing" -piling. They get so cold that they try and climb on each other for warmth and the ones underneath can't get out. It's pretty common although I've never had it happen.

    I would say that that COULD be one of the reasons they died, so I would defineitly keep the light on them.

    However- it's not the only reason so you should look at other potential causes too. First one being are they on medicated feed and do they have access to the ground/ dirt? It could be cocci if they are getting lethargic.
  7. Fleabuskitty

    Fleabuskitty Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2011
    None of the others are lethargic, just two of them were. I'm thinking they might have been weak from being under the others and/or cold? I am planning on keeping the light on them until it warms up or they are old enough to be ok, it depends which comes first.
    They are on medicated chick feed. I hatched them myself so from day 1 that is what they have eaten. They currently live in a cage in the shed/free-ranging chickens' house, though sometimes I take the cage outside for them to eat some grass. I don't think it's cocci. If it was, wouldn't the 15 grown chickens be sick, too?
  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Quote:I agree with WhiteMountainsRanch. Adult hens don't usually succumb to coccidiosis unless they are immunocompromised. However, many folks do treat the WHOLE flock when treating the younger ones if they already were part of the flock (for example a broody hen with chicks mixed into a grown-up flock).

    If the others don't appear sick to you and there are no bloody poos then it may well have been piling. However, when I have chick deaths the first thing I think of is coccidiosis, and I keep bottles of Corid and Sulmet handy just in case.

    It's a judgement call- if they don't seem sick then I personally wouldn't treat them. But also make sure they are eating and drinking...because if they aren't then I'd definitely treat.
  9. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    They are pretty young and a heat lamp at night could take the edge off. But I'm not saying that's the cause. I would just keep them a bit warmer.
  10. Fleabuskitty

    Fleabuskitty Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2011
    None of the others appear sick, I haven't seen any unusual poo, and they are definitely eating. I think that it probably was piling, since that was the coldest it had gotten so far and because of how their bodies looked "squished". I do have a heat lamp on them now, in case it unexpectedly gets that cold again. I think I might purchase Corid just to have it, though.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by