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Silkie Chicks High Mortality

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Tiss, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Tiss

    Tiss Songster

    May 8, 2010
    Let me preface this by saying, I am an experienced chicken mama. I hatch several broods of BCM's a year and raise and butcher at least 100 Cornish X a year, but these silkie chicks are making me crazy!

    My young son wanted to keep silkies as a little side business. He has 3 hens and 2 roosters who all seem healthy as can be. The hens go broody often and we let them set their eggs, putting eggs that don't fit under the hens in an incubator.

    We have no problems with hatches- most of the eggs hatch perfect chicks- but most of the chicks die within the first 2-3 days of life. They are chirping, fluffy, look perfect, and the next day they are dead.

    We have tried raising them in brooders with and without mama. We have put auxiliary heat in there to help the hen. We have tried different feeds. We have dipped their little beaks in water to get them drinking. They are in a clean brooder with clean bedding. Of 4 broods, we have only managed 6 healthy chicks that grew into teenager-hood. 75% or more die.

    I can't bear to see my son cry over these dead chicks any longer. What is going on?!

  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I wonder if it has to do with their being a crested breed, thus having a skull defect. Just a guess. Maybe the genetics of the ones you have is involved.
  3. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Crowing

    Apr 11, 2011
    Hmm, I don't have any problems hatching mine under broodies. I do struggle with hatching them in the bator though, but I figure that's something I'm doing. What are you feeding them? My Silkies eat a high protein gamebird feed (or meat bird maker, whichever is cheaper, but high protein. No layer, I figure they don't need as much calcium since they don't lay as often as production breeds) with oyster shell on the side. They don't pick at the oyster shell much either. Maybe the shells are too thick? On the flip side, have you checked to see if the egg shells are porous or thin? How old are your adults? Were the hens attentive mothers when you let them brood?
    Sorry to answer with a bunch of questions, but there are lots of things that can go wrong. Sorry about your peepers!
  4. Tiss

    Tiss Songster

    May 8, 2010
    My hens are just over a year. My roosters are almost a year. The hens and roos are not related. The hens are good mamas.

    I feed them a 24% game bird crumble. They also get out most days for grass and bugs. The egg shells look totally normal. Hatching the eggs out hasn't been a problem. It's keeping those peepers alive!

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