Sick Chicks


6 Years
Apr 17, 2013
Kingsley, MI
First of all, I feel like a terrible, terrible chicken mom for letting this even happen. I'm ashamed that I didn't watch them close and know that they are in too small of a space.

I have 3 Golden Laced Sebright cockerels and 4 Blue Laced Red Wyandottes in a rabbit cage at the moment. The Sebrights are about 12 weeks old, and the Wyandottes are about 7-8 weeks old. I knew it was getting to be a little tight in there, but it seems like they have gotten so much bigger in just the last couple days and I've been busy with work and a Leghorn with a bad head injury.

I suspect I haven't been giving them enough food. Only two ladle-fulls of crumbles. Their water is gone every day, but I think it's because they spill it rather than drink it.

It seems like almost over night the fresh hay I put in there for the chilly nights has just turned into a matted poo patty.

Their feathers look rough from laying in it over night. The Wyandottes seem alright. They are a little slow, but they are peeping and scratching outside in their little fence.

I put the Sebrights in an identical fence, and they are much more sluggish. They were eating for about 20 minutes. I cooked them both some eggs and they ate those, too. The Sebrights kept stretching their necks out, but I think it was the dryness of the crumbles, because I don't see them do that any other time. (Please! don't let it be gapeworm).

The Sebrights aren't making much noise. They also weren't very feisty when I tried picking them out of their cage like usual. One bit my glove, though, and closed it's eyes and just hung there, biting me. It reminded me of a small dog hanging from a tug-of-war rope that it wouldn't let go of. Their necks were scrunched in and wings were touching the ground.

I gave them some Save-A-Chick electrolytes in their water. I hope they get better. I would feel extremely terrible if they died, because it's my fault.

I plan on going to get two big 30x36in. rabbit cages to split them up and give them more room. They are a little too small for free range with my 19 week old flock, and definitely too small for my 25 week old flock that are in the coop and run (that's why they are in cages, until they get a little bigger).

Any help would be appreciated!
With sick chicks my first guess is usually coccidia, especially with the hunching and wing dragging. What does their poo look like? Besides gapeworm, would also wonder about ammonia buildup and their lungs if they were that crowded. you might try soaking some crumbles with the vitamin water and feeding it to them that way, they usually like it.
With sick chicks my first guess is usually coccidia, especially with the hunching and wing dragging. What does their poo look like? Besides gapeworm, would also wonder about ammonia buildup and their lungs if they were that crowded. you might try soaking some crumbles with the vitamin water and feeding it to them that way, they usually like it.

Well, all of their poo got trampled on and is matted, but now that they are out in the grass, I can look a little better. I will go check and let you know.

Should I get some Corid and treat them for coccidia or just wait to see if feeding them more and letting them stretch will do the trick?
Also, I'm wondering if it would be okay for me to gently bathe them to get the poo off of their feathers. I was thinking warm water and dawn dish soap. I won't if it will shock them too much, but I think it would make them feel better to get all of that off of their feathers.
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Crowding, poor ventilation (both related) and underestimating how fast they grow are probably 3 of the most common mistakes people make. The result is usually illness.
The Sebrights need 25 sq. in. per bird at that age. The heavy Wyandottes shouldn't be on wire and if confined need 2 1/2 sq. ft. per bird to 8 weeks and 5 sq. ft. per bird to 20 weeks.
I have 12 chicks that age and it seems like they go through food faster than I can fill the feeder.

Can you build a temporary coop? They need to get outside.
If they were mine, I would watch them this afternoon and see how they are acting, and what their poo is doing. Hopefully the fresh air and sunshine will make them feel better. I don't like to medicate without a reason, but I would probably go ahead and treat for it on the basis of the lethargy, hunching and wing drooping (assuming nothing else is going on). I would definitely have Corid or something on hand to use tonight if I saw something that at all indicated coccidia now that they are out of the cage. I am not sure how bad the poo on them is, one problem with bathing them is you have to dry them, and the weather is probably cold enough that they could get chilled if you can't dry them somewhere warm.
I'm not sure on the temporary coop. I was thinking about it as an isolation solution, but didn't think I needed it this fast. Maybe I can come up with something.

Just checked on them. They are all laying in the sun. I try to get them out there as much as I can, but I don't like to when I am gone at work, since it's just 2x3in. green wire bent into a circle, and I wouldn't be around to help them if something happened. So they have been penned for about 4 days in the rabbit cage.

Their poo all looks normal. Solid with white urates capping it all.

Maybe I'll grab some Corid when I get the rabbit cages (if TSC even has it. They tend to run out of things quickly).

It's about 68 degrees with full sun. I was just out picking off some tomato worms from the garden and the sun on my back was really hot. Think that would be warm enough to let them air dry? I could always get them most of the way dry with the blow dryer. My Leghorn seemed to like it the other day when I blow dried her. :p

Thanks everybody! Keep it coming.
Broody hens raise their chicks all the time in the chicken yard with older chickens. Many times the broody will abandon them after 4-5 weeks. So I would put them out as a group--first out in the coop fenced off in a back corner for 5 days, then take down the fence, and they will go outside when they are comfortable as a group. They will need watching when the fence comes down. I just think they need to be out of their cage, getting used to free ranging before winter sets in. Get the Corid even if you don't use it. I like the liquid better since it is more accurate in dosing.
Well, they seem to be doing better. The Wyandottes were basically doing fine the whole time. haha. I gave the three Sebrights baths, and they dried in time before dark. They at least look much better. They were moving around a lot more and made their noises again. I went to get the rabbit cages, and they are a lot more expensive than they were a couple years ago when I got the same one. I have a 30x36in for my rabbit right now, and not only were they out of that size, the 24x24in were $50! Yikes! I didn't buy the Corid, either, because it was $25 and they seemed much better by the time I left to go to TSC.

I improvised a bit and came up with something that I think will work out, at least for a little bit or until I can build another coop.
I don't know how much 2 ladles of food is but they were probably knocking their water over as soon as you left and were thirsty all day and simply got dehydrated. Good thing you caught the problem in time.

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