Newborn chicks swelling and weakening

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Aziara, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. Aziara

    Aziara Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know what is going on here, and I'm hoping someone has an answer.
    My first batch of Bielefelder eggs began hatching on 3-31. 5 eggs of the 9 were previously refrigerated, and only the refrigerated ones are having problems. Also, the first 2-3 days I had trouble getting the incubator temps up--they kept dropping to the low 90s. Humidity was 40-50% the first 18-19 days (Naturally too. Very humid climate here), then about 60-70% until now.

    Of the first 3 pips, one broke out on its own, one pipped from the small end and had to be helped out. She popped out more hyper and active than the one who hatched itself!

    The third made a first pip and waited 8-10 hours, at which point I carefully chipped away at the shell. The inner membrane was very dried out, but still had blood in it. I dribbled warm water onto the membrane, careful to keep it away from the beak. Most of the veins receded, but hours later, the chick showed no sign of wanting to hatch. I chipped away about half of the shell and then left it for the night wrapped loosely in a warm wet towel back in the incubator. There was a drop or two of blood lost from veins that refused to recede.

    He was out by the next morning (yesterday morning), but was very weak and kept getting stuck on his back due to a very fat swollen belly. The swelling just got worse and worse all day long, even in the head and neck. He couldn't even open his eyes or pick up his head by the time we decided to end his misery last night. He never got strong enough to even walk.

    I now have another one that did the exact same thing. A single pip, no further progress. I let this one go nearly 20+ hours before I chipped away. He was also shrink-wrapped into the inner membrane, but I wasn't about to make the same mistake again, so I only wet the membrane and left him wrapped in the wet towel. Finally he hatched, but he's swelling up now too. He's just lying there in the incubator now. I think we might have to put this one down too.

    What the heck is going on? The skin is so stretched from the swelling, I can see through it in some places.
    Is this preventable? Is it due to the low early temps, or the refrigeration? Or could it be a genetic defect of some kind?
     
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    OK, Maybe Amy can help you-----I just have very minimum hands-on-hatching experience.

    Questions---you stated you had trouble getting the temp up----Was this before you put the eggs in?? I personally would rather have the humidity lower than 40 to 50%---even if I had to put it in a room and run a dehumidifier. Why did you want to set the refrigerated eggs? How old were the eggs you set?
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
  3. Aziara

    Aziara Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The first pic here you can see the swelling under the beak and on the back of the head. It can no longer open its eyes. Despite how it looks, yes this chick is still alive. Barely. It's very limp and weak.
    The second pic shows the swelling in the belly region.
    There's one symptom I forgot to mention. The beak hangs open and the tongue flicks forward and back constantly.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  4. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    His belly looks about normal, This is your chick---I rarely have that problem but if I did---I would not let him suffer, Yes I do usually hatch a lot of chicks so do what I feel needs to be done and be quick about it. Did these eggs start hatching on the due hatch date or earlier/later?
     
  5. Aziara

    Aziara Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The temperature was perfect BEFORE I put the eggs in, then started dropping after. Stupid cheap thing.
    Believe me, 40% humidity IS with a dehumidifier. Unless I want my house to bake (my dehumidifier produces quite a lot of heat) I can't set it any lower than that.
    The refrigerated eggs was because I was too impatient to wait for fresh eggs. [​IMG] My 2 hens were in something of a lull, so I was worried that I wouldn't get more than 4 fresh eggs. All eggs were likely less than a week old, and certainly younger than 2 weeks.

    Quote: The belly swelling is hard to capture on camera, it is certain more than twice the size of the healthy chicks.
    My husband is going to put him down when he gets home from work. I can't bear to, and I also have a toddler who I don't want to have to witness that.
    And yes, the first hatchings were on day 21 of incubation. It is now day 23, and I have 3 eggs left, one of which is pipped.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Omphalitis is my guess, more common in chicks that develop under conditions too low. Did you calibrate your thermometer? I would cull it.
     
  7. Aziara

    Aziara Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, the poor chick has been put down. From the images of Omphalitis, I'm fairly certain that's what the problem was.
    I'm not sure what you mean by calibrate the thermometer, but I used 2 different thermometers inside the incubator and trusted them rather than the digital readout of the incubator (It was actually 92is inside when the readout said 100). I was bit scared to boost the temperature too high at first, and that's why it took 2 days to get it up to a good temperature for a still air incubator. The readout claims it's 102 in there, but it's really hovering around 100-101.
    I did 'preheat' the incubator overnight before adding the eggs.
    From what I'm reading, helping them to hatch may have put the final nail in the coffin for the 2 chicks. Live and learn I guess.
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    There's a fine line between knowing when to assist with a hatch, and when to sit on your hands. Sometimes, if the membranes are too dry, the chick simply can't break out. And sometimes, the chick is too big for the egg, or otherwise can't get into position to hatch. In those instances, she will die without assistance, and often a chick will die even if you do assist. I've had a number of assisted hatches due to dry membranes or malposition that have been perfectly normal and healthy chicks. Much the same way that a human birth sometimes requires a C-section, IMO, it's not wrong to do an assisted egg hatch, if you know exactly what you are doing, and know when not to proceed.
     
  9. Aziara

    Aziara Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I certainly understand what you're saying. Of the three I helped, one is doing very well.
    I think if I have to assist another dry membrane chick, I will use distilled water rather than tap. It's something that didn't occur to me at the time, but our tap water is terrible where we live.
    I think I may also make a habit of dripping a dot of iodine onto the umbilical stump right after hatching: it's what you do with other farm animals after they're born, so why not with chicks, right?
     
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    What is the elevation where you live? I only discovered recently, after living at 7500 feet for over twenty years, that mercury thermometers read five degrees colder than the actual temperature due to the lack of atmospheric pressure. In other words, at high altitude, people using mercury thermometers must add five degrees to the thermometer reading to obtain an accurate temperature reading.

    I'm so saddened by your experience. My sympathy goes out to you.
     

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