Raising Chicks Is Most Definitely Not For The Faint of Heart

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by txplowgirl, May 25, 2019.

  1. txplowgirl

    txplowgirl Songster

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    I eagerly waited for my chicks to come in from Myer Hatchery and they finally arrived 2 weeks ago. Had ordered 3 Dominique hens with 1 Dominique rooster and 1 hen each of a Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpington, Lavender Orpington, Welsummer and an assorted rare female for a surprise.

    All were healthy and looked as cute as a button until 2 days later and they started dying off 1 at a time. By the time it was all said and done I had lost 5 in a weeks time. All my fault, I didn't get the brooder lowered enough and they all just basically got too cold is the only thing I can think of. They stopped dying after I lowered it a couple more inches.

    I now have just the Dominique rooster, the Lavender Orpington, Buff Orpington and Welsummer. They are healthy, happy and just chirping away. But I still dread going to check on them in the mornings wondering if i'll find another 1 gone.

    Eventually i'll get a few more but I just can't handle the thought of dealing with more chicks at the moment.
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

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    Definitely don't rush yourself until you feel confident and ready to try again. Meanwhile, read up on the common things that kill new chicks or invite folks to contribute what they have learned about new chicks the hard way as you have. This can shorten your learning curve by benefiting from mistakes made by others.

    One of the most common causes of death in new chicks that have gone through the mail is transit shock. You can combat that by giving first aid in the form of warm sugar water, electrolytes, and Poultry Nutri-drench as soon as the chicks arrive.

    Another common cause of death in new chicks is being fed something other than chick crumbles without providing chick grit.

    Another cause is toddlers handling chicks without supervision and holding them so tightly, their organs get crushed, especially lungs.

    You might also read through @Blooie's gonzo thread https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...d-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update.956958/
     
  3. KOdin

    KOdin In the Brooder

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    You don’t have a heat gun or anything to check temps? I even check my water temps when I give them warm water in the beginning. I also have to clean a lot of pasty butt on the daily or that’ll kill them too.
     
    Wee Farmer Sarah likes this.
  4. txplowgirl

    txplowgirl Songster

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    I had gotten Storey's Guide To Raising chickens and am using that to help. But nothing beats hands on experience. Plus reading here for the last few years I thought I was ready but crap happens I guess.

    No, I don't have a heat gun, guess i'll be getting 1 of those for next time. I gave them Nutri drench the morning I got them and put electrolytes in their water.

    Not 1 of them have had pasty butt, even the one's that died and I check every day. I read that little chicks are not supposed to have chick grit until about 2 and a half weeks. So I guess that was wrong. But I did get chick grit this morning because they are right about 2 and a half weeks old and doing good. Have been feeding them a nonmedicated chick starter.

    No younguns around so none of that happening.

    Thanks everybody
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
    azygous likes this.
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

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    I am so sorry that you lost some chicks. I agree with waiting until you’re feeling more confident to try again. There’s no rush - there will always be chicks available when you’re ready. You figured out the problem and took the correct action (and no pasty butt is fantastic!), resolving your initial issue. Thanks for the tag, @azygous! Let he or she who has not lost chicks cast the first stone, I think! :old

    @KOdin : Please don’t take the following as a lecture. It isn’t intended to be. My first batch of 22 chicks, raised indoors and under a heat lamp, seemed to have sprouted 44 hineys! It seemed like I was constantly cleaning little butts! So I absolutely get the frustration of trying to keep chicks alive by cleaning pasty butt all the time! It’s frustrating! According to many experts, having things too warm can cause repeated cases of pasty butt in chicks. And chicks can easily be lost just to overheating as well. They need an area of the brooder where they can get away from the heat, just as they do when they are being raised by a broody hen. Even during a late fall or early spring hatch when temperatures are cold, the chicks actually spend very little time under a broody hen - they duck under her for a quick warmup, or if they get spooked, or when the sun goes down and it’s time to sleep. And they sleep all night long....no lights, no eating....just long, restorative sleep.

    In the learn-on gonzo Mama Heating Pad thread that my good friend linked, she asked me what the temperatures were under my setup. Shoot, I didn’t know! All I knew is that over a week the brand new chicks that I had using mine were positively thriving! Out of curiosity - and to answer azygous’ question - I put a wireless thermometer under there. It was 82.5 degrees in a 69 degree room. WHAT??? My chicks should have been dead instead of being so calm, confident, and healthy! Others reported the same results. Temperatures ranged from 82.5 degrees to 85 degrees. Their chicks were thriving too. I tossed the thermometer and never worried about it again. And I never experienced a single case of pasty butt in my chicks. Out of 8 batches over the years, only 3 chicks had it and they came here with it. Two cleanups on them and we were done.

    I have absolutely NO scientific proof, just my experience and the experience of many other people, but I firmly believe that overheating and overeating are harmful to them. They are preprogrammed to go under their mother and sleep at night. Their little digestive systems are just as immature as the rest of their tiny bodies. But in a ‘lamp and a box’ situation, they are awake 24/7. There is no other stimulation for them, there are no hiding places when they get scared, which adds stress, (and young chicks scare very easily), and all there really is to do is run the sides of the box, pick on each other, and eat. Not exactly how Nature designed them. Oh they catnap, sometimes for more than an hour, but there are always a couple that are awake. I know people find it amusing when chicks are running all over the place and then drop right where they are to sleep, but to me that says exhaustion. Chicks under a broody seldom exhibit this behavior. They explore, then calmly find mom and snuggle in for a quick, warming nap out of sight of those still awake. They don’t have other bored, wide awake chicks pecking at them or tromping overtop of them. Those chicks are too busy with other things to turn to pecking out of boredom. And chicks under a broody very rarely end up with pasty butt.

    All of this begs the question, if a two pound hen can successfully raise her brood without charts, experts, and books, why do we do it so differently and think we’re doing it better? For these reasons, and more, many of us have turned to trying to raise chicks as close to a broody hen as humanly possible. Whether that is commercial brooding plates or Mama Heating Pad isn’t important. Doing the best we can for these little critters that are depending on us to keep them healthy and comfortable is the goal, and we all chose our own ways to do that. Every little bit of information helps us decide what that is! :hugs
     
    DellaMyDarling and txplowgirl like this.
  6. llombardo

    llombardo Crowing

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    Chances are it's to warm if you are cleaning butts daily.
     
  7. llombardo

    llombardo Crowing

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    Not even kidding, my last batch of 8 started out on a large bird cage with a perch and ladder(they used both the first day) I also had this thing that you attach to the perch and its like a tunnel, they went in there all the time. Heat lamp was in one corner and they had the rest of the cage to get out of heat. They were in there for about two weeks. Observe the birds, they will let you know what they need. They are all different.
     

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