Need help fast - 8 week old chicks very underweight UPDATE

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by happymomof5, May 16, 2010.

  1. happymomof5

    happymomof5 New Egg

    Apr 14, 2010
    West Michigan
    I suppose I should be handling my birds more but I'm just not that type of chicken-raiser I guess.

    This is my first time with chickens. I have 6 EE's and 6 ISA Browns. I feed them 20% chick starter, unmedicated. I feed them in the morning and at night. I give them one whole coffee can full of food at each feeding. (The regular size coffee can, not the little ones.) Also lots of fresh water and their pen is very clean.

    Today I noticed the smallest EE was looking droopy. She let me pick her right up which is unusual. She looked okay but when I picked her up I could feel a very, very prominent keel bone. I put her back down and she fell over on her side and stayed there. I stood her back up and then the wind blew and literally knocked her over and she just laid right there.

    I sectioned off the coop and her put her so she can see the others but is isolated. She is warm and has food and water.

    That prominent keel bone bothered me so I checked and ALL my birds have that! None have the other weird symptoms of the little EE but they are very underweight. I am so horrified that I haven't been feeding them enough! How could I let this happen? I thought I was feeding them enough food, plus they are outside during the day so they are eating bugs and grass and such.

    I am very upset with myself for not handling them more often, perhaps if I handled them more I would have caught this. [​IMG]

    How can I fatten them up? Is there a better feed I can get? Supplements? Or are they maybe sick?
    Last edited: May 18, 2010
  2. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    They should have feed available to them at all times. Since you use nonmedicated feed, I am wondering if they have cocci. I would treat them with a 5 day treatment of Corid. The dosage is 9 - 10 cc per gallon of water for 5 days.
  3. happymomof5

    happymomof5 New Egg

    Apr 14, 2010
    West Michigan
    Quote:OMG. I feel so horrible. My mom raises banty hens and said she feeds hers twice a day so I just figured that was the way to go. I am afraid it is my own fault. Poor babies, I cannot believe I did something so horrible. [​IMG] I will try the corid and give them much more food from now on. Should I give them something to supplement as well?
    oh my gosh. I can't even express how awful I feel for not feeding them enough. My poor hungry girls. [​IMG]
  4. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    Well, you didn't know. I am sure they will be fine. Just be sure they have food and fresh water at all times. Good luck with your flock!
  5. Backyard_Chicken_rancher

    Backyard_Chicken_rancher Chillin' With My Peeps

    They should Have food all the time no if and or butts about it even if they freerange you should always have food and water avilable to them....
  6. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    I'm sorry. I must respectfully disagree with some of these responses.

    If i'm correctly understanding how much you are feeding them, and they are free ranging, i absolutely do not believe that your chick is sick from starvation.

    A prominent keel bone is fairly normal while chickens are growing, specifically since they're getting so much exercise. Of course, there's a level of way too prominent, but the fact that you can feel the keel bone is not, in itself, a sign of starvation.

    It is my guess that your chicken is ill. If she is starving, it is for some medical reason, not because you haven't fed her enough.

    How old are your chickens?

    How long have they been exposed to the ground?

    Have you noticed any bloody poop?

    It is true that handling your chicks once a week or so is helpful so you can spot any problems as they arise.

    I would like to help you determine what might be the problem with your weak chick. My two suspicions are coccidiosis or some kind of crop/digestive issue, both of which can likely be resolved

    Keep your chin up. [​IMG]

    ETA: I don't think there's anything wrong with keeping food out 24/7. That's a fine practice. But it's also no crime if you determine a proper amount of food and feed periodically.
    Last edited: May 16, 2010
  7. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    do you think the chicks may have worms?
  8. Chook-A-Holic

    Chook-A-Holic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 5, 2009
    Central, N.C.
    Mine have access to feed 24/7 for the first 8wks. They get no snacks period! They need all of the proper nutrition at this age for proper growth and to avoid possible health problems for the rest of their life.

    I would not recommend periodical feeding for chicks unless you are going to stand there to watch and make sure that they are all getting access to the feed. The chicks at the bottom of the pecking order could very well be pushed away from feeding by the higher ranking birds and indeed starve to death.
  9. happymomof5

    happymomof5 New Egg

    Apr 14, 2010
    West Michigan
    Quote:I really did think I was feeding them enough. I have two long trays on either side of the coop that I fill up so everyone has an opportunity to eat. They are around 8 weeks old and have been outside for about a week now. None of the chickens have bloody poop. I handled them thoroughly yesterday once I noticed the sick gal, and I did not notice anything unusual. Their feathers are tightly anchored in the skin, nothing sticking around the vent, etc. They are flying around and scratching and just doing chickeny things. They seem very healthy except for being thin, and the one sick EE (her name is Big Nose.) Today she was still droopy but was intermittently walking around and scratching.

    I just put two large branches in the coop for them to roost on about a week ago. I don't think silver maple is poisonous ...? The branches do not have leaves but are fresh, they came down in a storm. When I saw her behavior that was my first thought was poison.

    I am headed out to TSC to get some Corid and a different feeder that will provide more feed at one time. I sure hope they're going to be okay.
  10. happymomof5

    happymomof5 New Egg

    Apr 14, 2010
    West Michigan
    Big Nose almost died yesterday. She was lying on her side, her feet were clenched and she could not lift her head. She had feces caked all over her vent and tail, which I removed and cleaned.

    I broke an egg on a plate and put it on the ground near her. Then I gently helped her eat some. I dipped her beak in it a couple times and then she got the hang of it and began eating it. After a minute or two of me assisting, she lifted her head and ate it herself. Then a minute or two more and she was on her feet! She ate the rest of the egg and then had some food and water. Today it is as if nothing happened. She is fine.

    I have a 12lb hanging feeder now so there is always food available. They don't seem to be eating more than before, though, so I guess I'm not sure what's going on.

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