Seemingly Random chick deaths


silent stalker
10 Years
Nov 1, 2009
My Coop
My Coop
4 weeks ago we picked up 3 Maran chicks from a well respected local breeder. NPIP certified. The chicks were 1 and 2 weeks old. About 3 weeks ago, we received 9 day old chicks through the mail. Within 3 days one of them died. Some of the symptoms seemed a little like Avian Encephalomyelitis. (ETA for spelling and to add: But it could have just been too stressed from shipping. It was a little off from the get go.) I scrubbed out the brooder really watched the rest really closely. Everything was good. Then yesterday the two biggest and oldest (two of the Marans) were dead when we woke up. They were perfectly normal when we went to bed, and 1 of them was nearly fully feathered. There were some runny droppings since the night before so we dosed the water for Coccidiosis just in case. Since it's still 150degrees in the shade here in south Florida. I went ahead with the plan to move them all out to the coop. We have a heat lamp for at night, since it is getting under 70 now. I checked on all the other babies several times last night and this morning, and everyone was doing fine. At noon everyone was eating drink, scratching in the dirt. Looked great. At 3pm I went back out, and one of the 3 week old chicks is laid out dead. I have no idea what's going on. This batch of chicks, are the kids 4H projects for this year, and they are overly attached and even more devastated than when we have lost chicks in the past. We always lose some at hatching, and with in the first week it's not been unusual for a few here and there to not make it. But this makes 4 birds in a week, and I feel terrible, that Momma can't fix it for the kids. If they were showing any kind of symptoms I might know what to do. Any suggestions, at all! Thanks
Last edited:
Remove the surviving chicks to a different pen away from all ur adult birds, then call your local or state Extension office and get a Necropsy on the dead birds if you still have them
There are so many different issues affecting chick mortality, it would take way too much space to go over them all. Read through this and see if anything jumps out at you.

In the past, we've had many, many threads such as yours. Why chicks die and seem to be perfectly healthy one day and dead the next can appear to be a real mystery. It requires intense investigation, ruling out causes until you arrive at the cause that fits your situation.

One of the most notable threads of all the years I've been on this forum had an update one year later. In that case, chicks were dying, the replacement chicks were dying, and finally, the people tossed in the towel and gave up. In the update, they revealed that they'd had to move out of their place due to contaminated water. These days, it's not uncommon for people to find out their water supply has been contaminated by the petroleum industry using toxic chemicals to extract gas and oil. A water sample tested by your health department might be worthwhile if you are hitting the wall trying to figure this out.
I have been combing through our state's common poultry ailments. I'm just not coming up with any answers. We've not had trouble with all that many instances of disease in our years of keeping chickens, and then I could point to specific symptoms and hunt down a likely culprit on here.

I'm just not seeing any symptoms. We are going through about a 2-gallon water bucket in around 24 hrs, they are all eating well. No pasty butts, just the more runny droppings that once. They are plenty warm, and I've had fans moving in our brooder room, and now have plenty of cross breeze and shade outside, so I don't think they are getting too hot. I'm just struggling to figure out what I'm not seeing.

We currently live on a 53,000-acre orange grove in S. Florida. My husband farms for the company/family, and they provide housing. He is doing soil and water testing again now, for upcoming crops, so I can have him run a sample from here at the house. He thinks it's unlikely given the history of the land, but says he'll humor me.

Any further suggestions would be appreciated. We aren't new to chickens by any means, though this is the first time we've done shipped chicks. I've always hatched eggs either from our flocks or through purchases on here. Other than the very first set we got at the feed store. I'm just lost.
It will be useful to test the water and be able to rule it out.

One thing I'd recommend, if you haven't already done it, is to measure the temperature under the heat source at the chicks' level, measure again at the farthest point in the brooder from the heat source, and compare both readings to the ambient temps both day and night time.

Also, how many chicks are in the brooder and what is the square footage?

If the temperatures are all consistently very warm with no sizable space where chicks are able to shed excess body heat, that could be causing dehydration and death even with fans going.

A brooder must have cool down space away from any heat that is much cooler, and if this isn't supplied, it's often fatal.
After talking with others down at the feed store, several have lost chickens and chicks lately due to the heat. We've had several days where the heat has been up close to 100, and the customary breezes have died, with the hurricane out in the gulf. The two we lost in the brooder, I think were because we didn't have a significant cool down area. I've never checked the area of the box that we don't have the light shining, and we swapped brooders to a glass box raised up high, so the chicks can see life going on around them. It traps more heat, and I don't think they had enough cool down space after temping all over it in the last few days.

We still don't know what happened with the chick outside. It's hot out there, it got up to 92 the day it died. They have shade, plenty of water, but maybe it just didn't tolerate the heat well, or maybe it was already stressed from in the brooder. Everyone else seems to be doing fine now. In fact, now that it's cooled down some (we are hovering just between 85 and 90 now, with it in the upper 70s to low 80s at night), they aren't going through the water quite as fast either. Makes me think even more that the problem was a brooder with no space to cool down.

Thanks for the help. Now, to come up with a brooder solution before we set the next set of eggs in the next few days.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom