Sudden Chick Death Problems

Self sufficient chickens

In the Brooder
Dec 16, 2019
35
10
36
Planet Earth, Solar System
I have been raising baby chicks for 3 years. Only one batch has ever successfully been raised inside a house. 2 weeks ago I put 10 baby Wheaten Marans into a plastic brooder container. At 21:00, we walked in only to find 4 dead and 6 nearly dead. When morning came 5 were still alive. 1 week later another chick died after looking very poorly all day. 2 days later we found another chick that had still been in the incubator at the time of the original incident dead. 1 week later we found another dead after having accelerated breathing for an hour and then having seizures. At this moment there are 2 very happy Wheaten Marans left. On Monday we had 8 purebred Araucanas hatch. They were all very happy and were normally eating and drinking. 2 hours ago I looked over at the chicks and they were all good. Then, suddenly one fell over on its back and stuck its legs in the air. In the next 2 minutes, they were all on the ground completely limp--barely breathing. 1 by 1 they all died, except 1, it stayed alive for 1 hour after the others. It has been a very confusing experience and we hope to gain something out of it. We hope that we figure out what caused it and would appreciate any suspicions or ideas that anyone has.

Thanks and goodnight,
Self Sufficient Chickens
 

hysop

Songster
Sep 16, 2019
216
418
111
Southwest Georgia
Could it be a chemical in the plastic container? I am soo sorry for your loss. I’d be devastated. I’ve had a handful of chicks die without warning but it was because they got overheated (it was the middle of summer and they were in direct sunlight due to a neighbor opening a door wide open when cleaning my husband’s shop)
 

hispoptart

Crowing
8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
1,321
2,023
452
NW Colorado
Definitely sounds like something environmental. What are you using for bedding? How big is the brooder. What it the temperature in there? Are you using a heat lamp? Is there room for them to get away from it if you are?
So sorry for your losses, hope we can figure this out.
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
10,803
72,023
1,352
Catalonia, Spain
My Coop
My Coop
I have been raising baby chicks for 3 years. Only one batch has ever successfully been raised inside a house. 2 weeks ago I put 10 baby Wheaten Marans into a plastic brooder container. At 21:00, we walked in only to find 4 dead and 6 nearly dead. When morning came 5 were still alive. 1 week later another chick died after looking very poorly all day. 2 days later we found another chick that had still been in the incubator at the time of the original incident dead. 1 week later we found another dead after having accelerated breathing for an hour and then having seizures. At this moment there are 2 very happy Wheaten Marans left. On Monday we had 8 purebred Araucanas hatch. They were all very happy and were normally eating and drinking. 2 hours ago I looked over at the chicks and they were all good. Then, suddenly one fell over on its back and stuck its legs in the air. In the next 2 minutes, they were all on the ground completely limp--barely breathing. 1 by 1 they all died, except 1, it stayed alive for 1 hour after the others. It has been a very confusing experience and we hope to gain something out of it. We hope that we figure out what caused it and would appreciate any suspicions or ideas that anyone has.

Thanks and goodnight,
Self Sufficient Chickens
Have you checked for pasty butt? Sometimes it isn't so obvious and you have to take a good look at their vents.
 

UrbanHenKW123

Chirping
Jun 25, 2019
79
141
96
Kitchener - Canada
So it sounds like something environmental if they are healthy one minute and dead the next. What are you cleaning your equipment with (brooder and incubator)? Harsh chemicals like bleach or lysol can leave behind chemical residue that can kill the chicks.

Is your incubator losing heat or humidity at all during the incubation period? This can cause all kinds of issues even after they hatch.

Heat source is another thing to look at. They may be either too hot or too cold. Heat lamps are good but you need to keep a close eye on the temps using a thermometer and have a place for the chicks to get away from the heat. I used a brooder plate and I haven't had any problems with them. They may be a little more expensive than a lamp but sometimes you get what you pay for.

The plastic bin may be too small for your heat source to work properly so it might be overheating them or if you don't have good air flow it can be suffocating them. I'd try to see if you can get an old rabbit cage second hand or use something that has a bit more air flow to it. Maybe poke some holes in the plastic bin.

Maybe look at the feed you're using, it could be old and moldy. Or maybe switch to another brand.

Pasty butt can sometimes be hard to see. Maybe check them thoroughly.

Bedding - if you are using something small they can eat this could also cause a problem. Wood shavings that have cedar in them can kill them too.

Hope this helps!!Good luck with your next batch!
 

Self sufficient chickens

In the Brooder
Dec 16, 2019
35
10
36
Planet Earth, Solar System
teflon coated heat bulb will kill chicks
No Teflon bulbs, using a https://www.amazon.com/RentACoop-Heating-Plate-10/dp/B07DLCX71P




Bedding - if you are using something small they can eat this could also cause a problem. Wood shavings that have cedar in them can kill them too.
We are using paper towels



So it sounds like something environmental if they are healthy one minute and dead the next. What are you cleaning your equipment with (brooder and incubator)? Harsh chemicals like bleach or lysol can leave behind chemical residue that can kill the chicks.
They were cleaned with hydrogen peroxide and thoroughly rinsed with water



The plastic bin may be too small for your heat source to work properly so it might be overheating them or if you don't have good air flow it can be suffocating them. I'd try to see if you can get an old rabbit cage second hand or use something that has a bit more air flow to it. Maybe poke some holes in the plastic bin.
Good idea, I had the lid al of the way off of the plastic tub.






Definitely sounds like something environmental. What are you using for bedding? How big is the brooder. What it the temperature in there? Are you using a heat lamp? Is there room for them to get away from it if you are?
So sorry for your losses, hope we can figure this out.
- Bedding: Paper towels
- Brooder: 3x2
- Temperature: Outside of the heater it was about 75ºF Under the heater it was 90-95
- No heat lamp
- Yes, there is room for them to get away, the heater is 10x10
 
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