New chicks dying one by one

Ariel301

Songster
10 Years
Nov 14, 2009
1,355
20
151
Kingman Arizona
I received an order of chicks on Friday morning, they were hatched on Wednesday morning. They are an assortment of bantams. They arrived on time, nothing seemed wrong at all with the shipping. The post office called as soon as they arrived and took good care of them. Some were weak from the beginning and died within a few hours. Now, the rest are acting normal, running around the brooder, napping, eating, chirping, drinking, pooping...everything fine. And then suddenly, one will sit down for a nap and never get back up. They go down, become very sleepy and lethargic, and will not eat solid food anymore. (I can't find a problem with their crops, they seem fine). They will take water or liquid foods only if I hold them and dip their beaks in it, and then they will only keep drinking as long as I keep doing that. Their legs seem to get really weak and floppy, and in a few light colored leg ones, I have noticed the legs turn purple like the blood is not flowing right. The chicks will spend several hours laying around sleepy like this, slowly getting less and less responsive, and then will flip over, roll around gasping for a few minutes, and then die. They go stiff instantly, the rolling around looks a little like a seizure too. When they are in the early stages of this, they do not open their eyes much, if I pick them up and make them stand and eat, they will do so with closed eyes most of the time. They don't seem to have anything wrong with their eyes though.

I had two with pasty butts, but after cleaning them up once, it did not happen again. One of those two died, the other is still alive.

They are in a plastic box in my bathroom with a heat lamp on one end and the other end is open so they can get out from under the lamp if they want. It's 95 degrees in there and none seem cold or uncomfortable. They act like perfectly normal chicks until this starts--one will be running around playing, then suddenly close its eyes and sink down to the ground, and I know then that it is going to die. When I see one start to do that, I move it to a separate brooder because the others begin picking at it badly--I had one chick go down like this and the others ATE its toes while it was still alive!

They are being fed an organic non-medicated chick starter. We don't use medicated chick starter, we prefer not to medicate an animal unless they are sick and it is necessary. I am also supplementing that with scrambled eggs, homemade probiotic yogurt, and warm oatmeal.

What could be wrong with my birds? What else can I/should I do for them?
 

jerseygirl1

Crowing
Jun 20, 2009
4,501
35
296
Orange County, NY
I'm so sorry you have to go thru this - I really haven't a clue, butcould the heat lamp be causing the plastic box to give off some kind of toxin?Any type of ACV or vitamin supplement in their water? Maybe sugar in the water for a boost?
 

chickensioux

Songster
10 Years
Feb 12, 2009
4,229
55
241
Western North Carolina
What kind of bedding are they on?
Also"
Oatmeal is probably one of the best grain foods for new chicks. Oats cannot be
suitably prepared, however, in a common feed-mill. The hulled oats
are what is wanted. They can be purchased as the common rolled oats, Quaker brand plain rolled oats or similar are fine but do NOT feed instant or flavored quick oats. (these contain salt and sugar)
Sometimes known as as cut or pin-head oatmeal. The latter form would be
preferred, but either of these is an excellent chick feed. Oats in
these forms are expensive and should be purchased in bulk, not in single small
packages. Feed dry not prepared/cooked. Chick starter is much preferred overall and is available either medicated or not. (cheaper than oats too).
 
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ranchhand

Rest in Peace 1956-2011
11 Years
Aug 25, 2008
13,295
78
291
SC
Oh dear, that's awful!

What kind of bedding are they on? Cedar can be very bad for the tiny chicks.
 

Ariel301

Songster
10 Years
Nov 14, 2009
1,355
20
151
Kingman Arizona
They are on paper towels for bedding, changed daily. The shavings at the feed store were moldy and gross, so I would not buy any of them. I tried shredded paper but they were too interested in eating that, and hay is too hard for them to walk in still. They started in a cardboard box, but decided that was going to be too hard to clean, so I switched to one of those plastic storage totes you can buy at Walmart. They were like this in the cardboard too, so I do not think it is the plastic.

The oatmeal is the Quaker oats that come in the round cardboard can, not instant stuff. It seems to be the easiest thing to get them to eat once they get really weak and refuse food. I have a non-medicated organic chick starter as their main food, and they eat that fine until they get lethargic. At that point they will not eat or drink without being forced, and it's easier to get a liquid food into them like runny warm oatmeal, eggs dissolved in warm water, or yogurt. They will take a sip of liquid only if I dip their beaks in it once they hit this point, so I am giving them a few sips every hour round the clock but they just die anyway.
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I've tried sugar water too, and vitamins in the water, but that doesn't seem to help at all.

Hopefully I can get them replaced, as some of them were going to be my nephew's 4-H birds and he's already picked out and named the ones he likes! I wasn't going to let him know we had them yet until I was sure no more would die, but they stopped by the house and he found them.
sad.png
 

R.C.'S Buns

Hatching
10 Years
Dec 14, 2009
4
0
6
State Road
Sorry to hear about your chicks
sad.png

I dont think the plastic totes have anything to do with it. That is what I use all the time with a reg 100wt light on pine shavings and have had no problem. Did you get your feed at this same feed store that had the moldy and gross shavings? if so check your feed real good.
 

mypicklebird

Songster
11 Years
Aug 8, 2008
1,234
15
151
Sonoma Co, CA
Have you called the hatchery yet? If not, do so ASAP- they need to know, and may be able to help if they are having a break-out there.
Things that *could* be happening 1) outgassing from plastic box (possible, but not probable- lots of people keep chicks in plastic tubs 2) toxin in food- get new food from a large producer, switch it out now, call the feed store, let them know you are having unexplained die-off. If others are having the same problem, they may know about it- if people report it. 3) infection from hatchery- the hatchery will be your best source for this info (viral, bacterial, parasitic- whatever). Coccidia is a common young bird problem, but would be weird for chicks in a bathroom in a new plastic box to get this. You can treat for it, or you can have a fecal done at a vet's to see if they are loaded. Usually they have bloody diarrhea, but not always. 4) cleaning product in bathroom, or on something the chicks are using? or other household toxin. meds, teflon, cleaners, ect.
Check the dead ones out carefully & live too. Check for mites/lice- the little guys can get them just as bad as the adults. Check their 'navels'- if stinky/oozing- this was a hatchery/incubator problem. Hope something in here helps.
 

Keri78

Songster
10 Years
Oct 17, 2009
849
8
141
NJ
Yeah...I've raised several chicks in a plastic tote as well. Maybe try a 100watt lighbulb instead...just since your keeping them inside anyway. I have mine in my bathroom and they just have a 100watt lightbulb hung low in one corner the rest of the brooder stays around 75-80degrees. Directly under the light is way warmer. Other than that...I have NO idea! Blessings, Keri
 

Ariel301

Songster
10 Years
Nov 14, 2009
1,355
20
151
Kingman Arizona
Well, the losses have stopped at 11, and the hatchery is going to resend the chicks. We still are not sure what happened, the hatchery representative thinks they just had a rough shipment and couldn't come back from the stress. The feed we're using isn't from the place with the bad shavings, and it looks fine. We will quarantine the new chicks anyway, just to be safe in case these were sick.

Another health question about them....my husband has been sick with either a cold or a mild case of flu for the last week, and was worried about using the bathroom the chicks are in, because he was afraid of spreading his germs to them? Is it ok for him to go in there, or should he keep using a different bathroom until he is well?
 

drdolittle

In the Brooder
9 Years
Jan 25, 2010
19
0
22
Downeast
glad to hear the losses have stopped. we had a bad shipment too and lost a bunch too just as you described but worse even. now we buy from the local feed store.
chickens & people generally don't swap germs- sure there are a few diseases out there but people don't give chickens colds. they'd be fine in the same room together.
 

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