Mysterious chick deaths?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by havery, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. havery

    havery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 36 chicks, all 5-6 days old I got from McMurray, they arrived two days ago. Upon arrival all seemed surprisingly chipper and healthy and took to eating and drinking extremely well. According to my infrared thermometer, the brooder is 96 degrees on one side and 84 on the other, and during the day they're all spread out, though at night they seem to all snuggle together in an area about halfway between the two temps. They are in the house and I haven't changed my thermostat, it's not a drafty room at all (even if it were the lows at night are in the 60's down here right now). The first night home I woke up to a dead chick, he looked as though he had been trampled overnight. No sign of pasty butt or bloody poop anywhere. I kept a close eye on the rest of them the next 24 hours, sure that I had just missed a symptom. This morning at 6 am when I awoke all were fine, running around and taking advantage of the fresh water. Not three hours later I check on them again and there's another dead chick, seemingly trampled with no obvious explanation why. I've got them on medicated feed and will be going to purchase some electrolytes and antibiotics when my husband gets home in a few minutes.

    Any ideas as to what is going on? Are they suffocating each other snuggling? I'm super confused. I don't think it's cocci, as there are no symptoms and no odd stools?




    And a second problem I believe is unrelated to the first two deaths:
    I have a little speckled sussex that has been much smaller than the rest since they arrived. Actually, she and my golden laced wyandotte were the same size, but the wyandotte pullet is already growing and pulling ahead. The first 24 hours she was doing great, eating and drinking with the rest of them. Today, though, she's lethargic, falling asleep on her feet. I've given her water through a syringe and she sucks it down but won't really move to drink herself from the dish. I can't get her to eat. I separated her from the rest because she was just standing there letting them peck at her. She's actually in my shirt, nestled down in between my boobs right now, sleeping. Her breathing is normal, and her poop is watery but just like she's drinking too much and not eating enough. What can I give her to perk her up or is she just a goner?
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  2. brotchicks

    brotchicks Out Of The Brooder

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    So sorry about that @havery I am sorry to say that I have only had chickens for about 1 year and before that I have only had chicks until they are about 2 weeks. But, do you think it could have anything to do with Murray McMurray? Just wondering because I ordered 25 to be delivered this Sunday-Tuesday. Thanks, sorry I couldn't help, brotchicks
     
  3. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    The deaths are likely related to shipping stress. Its pretty common to loose one or two here and there for a couple of days after they've traveled through the mail. Honestly, I would hold off on any antibiotics (I'm a firm believer in not treating unless its necessary). Add some electrolytes or raw apple cider vinegar to their water for a boost.

    As for your runty Sussex, you might consider mixing some chick starter with water and electrolytes and feeding it through the syringe. Make it really wet so the crumbles don't stop up the syringe. It might give her the boost she needs to pull through.
    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  4. havery

    havery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So far, no, I don't think it's a fault of McMurray, especially seeing how healthy and fast-growing all the others are. Besides the two that died, I have 29 remaining red rangers that are eating me out of house and home and growing like weeds and generally just making me excited about their potential as meat birds! Besides the little Sussex, my other pullets (3 Australorps, a brown leghorn, and a golden laced wyandotte) are keeping up with the rangers in energy, and the Australorps are eating just as voraciously as the meat birds and almost as big.
     
  5. havery

    havery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! Yeah, I kinda figured it might have been shipping stress, but this is my first time ordering chicks and I was unsure. I guess that's why McMurrays 48 hour refund policy. I just got worried when the second one died so suddenly over a day later after appearing perfectly healthy. It's like they both fell asleep healthy chicks and just never woke up.

    I just picked up some more electrolytes to give to my Sussex, and I'll try the feed through a syringe, I really hope she pulls through. It's hard not to get attached when you work so hard on them! It doesn't help she's such a cuddly little thing.
     
  6. ApiaryandAviary

    ApiaryandAviary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are a lot of possibilities as to why.
    Strongly suggest you phone the hatchery.
    Did you pay for vacinations?
    Still, all in all two are not many to loose in comparison to three dozen chicks considering they were shipped.
    About the runt of the litter, poor little birdbrain, where is she supposed to go and what is she supposed to do? She has no where to go and nothing to do to protect herself nor get away.
    Suggestion, pull out several of tge absolute smallest and put them together in a smaller cage within a cage or next to them. Let tgem learn to stick together and at night slip them in with the others.
    Pecking order. The larger can and will, have been known to peck to death smaller chicks.
    I would not let that happen. I have been known to put smallers in a smaller cage inside the larger cage for the convience of heat lamps and such, they will be in separate runs anyways so separate runs now. I have Calico Cochin Bantams in separate runs from the Large Fowl English Lavender Orpingtons. Even when they were born they came from different sized eggs. No way would I mix different sized chicks, or different ages. And really you have no way of knowing how old any of them actually are unless you are familiar with the different stages of feathering per breed.
     
  7. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Since they's no apparent symptoms I suspect they smaller weaker ones might be getting trampled to death. You ever watch a bunch of chicks you'll see that when they want to go to the other side of the cage they don't politely walk though the crowd saying scuse me scuse me I'm sorry scuse me, they jump up and run across each other's backs & heads. The weaker ones get bowled over and lay there on their backs kicking their legs in the air and it takes them longer & longer to get up each time until they no longer have the strength to get up.
    Fact of chicken life is when you have a lot, you're gonna lose a few.

    I've never used med feed or put crap in their water. However, I do use WARM water when I fill the waterers to prevent shocking their weak little bodies.

    Being they spread out during the day the brooder may be too hot. When mine are that age they spend most of their time under the light except for quick trips to the feed & water. I don't use chicken baking lights like they use at Burger King to keep the fries warm, I use regular 60w house bulbs in my lamps about 6" from the brooder floor. I've never used a thermometer in a brooder, if the chicks pile up like sardines I lower the light an inch or so, if they spread out I raise the light an inch or so, until they make a loose little circle under the light.
    I brood in outside cages and my first hatch this year was in Feb when it was 25* here in LA. I had just put 40 five day old chicks under a single brooder lamp using a regular 60w bulb. Didn't lose a single one.

    Hope that helps some.
     
  8. havery

    havery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had pulled out my smaller pullets from the meat birds the day they arrived because I saw it wasn't going to work out, and out of the 7 the sussex is the only one to show any problems. The ranger chicks I'm losing aren't any smaller than the rest of the red rangers they're with, or else I'd have assumed they were getting crowded out.


    Unfortunately my little sussex runt didn't make it through the night, I got up with her and gave her an electrolyte/nutrient solution with water every couple of hours, and the last time I got up she was gone. I'm pretty upset, but I really think she was just runty from the beginning and since she was so active at first I just didn't notice until it was too late.


    I also lost TWO more rangers last night. I glanced at them every time I was up with her and they all seemed fine and content, they snuggle together in small groups in different places, but mostly around 90F parts of the brooder. The two I lost were in completely different areas, one looked trampled a bit, but he was next to the water, and the other just looked asleep. I'm going to try raising the lamp today but I really don't think it's too hot, I'm not seeing panting or chicks drinking more than they eat or staying away from the lamp except when they're running around playing.


    This is incredibly frustrating. I'm about to call McMurrry again. The first call I made was just to claim the two chicks that died within 48 hours, but I have no idea why I'm still loosing chicks to the same circumstances.
     
  9. Tajann

    Tajann Out Of The Brooder

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    Just curious what ended up happening with the rest of the chicks and the hatchery
     
  10. havery

    havery Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I contacted McMurray. They gave me credit for ALL the lost chicks, even the ones that died after the 48 hour mark. The rep I talked to was very pleasant and helped me troubleshoot to make sure my brooder setup was fine (it was).

    I had zero problems out of the remaining chicks. I replaced the lost chicks with TSC Cornish X and a little Welsummer pullet. All are healthy and doing great outside at 6 weeks old. The meaties are in their tractor, the pullets are in the outside brooder and I plan to start integrating them with my existing flock within a couple weeks. I had what appears to be a freak accident with some of my rangers last night in a thunderstorm, but obviously that's got nothing to do with the hatchery.

    All in all, I will order from McMurray again. They handled their end better than expected; they gave me credit for more than they had to via policy, and I had great interactions with their reps both online and over the phone. I do blame the post office's poor handling for the losses I had, though I'm not sure what can be done about that in the future. But the rangers are growing awesomely, and I'm excited to see my pullets start laying this summer (especially the 3 australorps, those girls are getting big and gorgeous!).
     

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