Sick/Dying Chicks, Please help!!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Texas Buffs, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. Texas Buffs

    Texas Buffs Hatching

    Feb 10, 2015
    Hi! New Member with chick problems.

    About me: I've been raising chickens for about 3.5 years. Have hatched out about 12 batches of my own eggs. I only have Buff Orpingtons and decided to try adding a new breed to the family. All of my chickens are pastured. I rotationally graze them by moving the electric net fence every other day. I have 55 chickens total and raise for meat and eggs. I feed Texas Naturals feeds which is a non-gmo, non-soy feed.

    So here's the problem…. I ordered 25 Barred Rock chicks from Meyer Hatchery and received them 14 Jan. I'm assuming a hatch date of 12 Jan. Everything started off great. Everybody arrived alive and seemingly healthy. They even added an extra chick which I thought was nice. All the chicks were eating and drinking within the first 20 or 30 mins. I added chick electrolytes for the first two days. This should be no problem I thought, I've done this plenty of times and everything was going smoothly for the first two weeks.

    Week two I noticed one little girl seeming to have a hard time. She was kind of lethargic and wasn't acting 'right'. When you've seen plenty of healthy chicks it's pretty easy to spot one that's off. Over the next couple of days I noticed that she was trembling and shaking and wouldn't really stand up. A couple more days, she is lying on her side. Not good! She seemed to be eating and drinking ok on her own. A couple of times I would check her and she would have a pretty full crop so I wasn't that worried about her not eating. After a week I found her dead. While I hate to lose a chick I thought, ok, no problem, I still have 25.

    A couple of days later I notice several of the other chicks now acting lethargic. NOW I'm paying attention. Their little heads tremble and shake. Legs are twitchy. They can't seem to walk in a straight line. Falling over every couple of steps. When they stand and sometimes even walk, they walk on their lower leg and kind of shuffle around with their foot to their knee on the ground. More and more chicks start getting the shakes. They just kind of sit and the end of the brooder and nap. Everybody else is up running, trying to fly, scratching, pecking, etc. normal chick activity. I currently have about 15 that are in some stage of whatever this is. I lost a second chick yesterday and I have 4 that are lying on their sides, obviously in the late stages.

    Their poops are normal. Nothing runny, no discoloration. Normal, brown, semi solid with the little bits of white. They don't seem to been having any respiratory issues. No coughing, sneezing, runny noses, etc.

    Their feathers kind of look a little ruffled but it's hard to tell. They are at that stage where their feathers are coming in but they still have a little fluff. They look kind of disheveled but it's hard for me to say as the only chicks I'm used to are Buffs. I'm not sure what they 'should' look like at four weeks.

    I'm hoping the collective wisdom of BYC can help me identify what THIS is!
  2. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Songster

    Nov 30, 2007
    emmet MI
    I would call hatchery right away to report deaths, or they may not refund you for them. Considering the weather, it is quite possible that some of the chicks got chilled. Not all of the chicks are the same age either. sometimes to fill and order, they will leave the early hatches in the incubator without food and water and snatch the last chicks barely out of the shell. the older chicks may be starved and dehydrated while the younger ones did not have time to finish absorbing their yolk sack before transport which may lead to bacterial infection. when these conditions occur, chicks can easily die or fail to thrive and it's a slow death. If they are dying, it is kind to end their suffering. Sorry for your loss, it's probably nothing you did wrong.
  3. Eggsoteric

    Eggsoteric Songster

    Nov 25, 2010
    I don't know what your brooder set up is, however, my first suspicion would be coccidiosis. I would search the forum for how to treat using Corid. Good luck.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  4. farnorth

    farnorth Songster

    Jul 6, 2013
    Upper Michigan
    Just some thoughts

    Too much or too little electrolites in the water. If you've been using it a lot then stop for a bit and see what happens. If you haven't been using it then start using some and see if it helps.

    Treat for Coccidiosis

    Get a new bag of chick starter....maybe you somehow got a bad bag, contaminated, spoiled or mixed the meantime feed them some dry quick oats, it can't hurt.

    Make sure you aren't using a Teflon coated light bulb they give off gas that can kill poultry.

    Are they warm enough? but not too hot?

    What are you using for bedding, plain pine shavings are okay unless they are getting hungry and eating them.

    Do they have access to enough food? Have you given any unusual treats?
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  5. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I would immediately put them all on Corid or Sulfadimethoxine, both found at Tractor Supply. For coccidiosis. And no, they don't need blood in their stool to have it.
  6. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Songster

    Nov 30, 2007
    emmet MI
    Oh jeez, after looking at every ones' posts, I re read yours and I had missed that they were 4 weeks. Sorry! the above posters have it right. [​IMG]
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Sorry for your loss. Coccidiosis can be a problem in chickens 2-20 weeks of age and older. Corid would be good to use to treat cocci. If you continue to see these symptoms which also could be due to shipping stress, I would get a necropsy by the state vet to check for avian encephalomyelitis, which can cause trembling and tremors. Here is some information to read:
  8. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General

    Corid dosing picture:
    FWIW, I always assume it's a severe outbreak and treat with the maximum amount.

    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015

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