Ugh... UPDATED WITH PICS OF LEG ISSUE

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by brandislee, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I did 10 broilers (as a "test" to see if it was something I could do) in the Spring. It went swimmingly. I brooded them in the coop until they were 3 weeks old, then moved them out to a tractor with no heat. I had 0 loss, which I know is not the norm.

    So I decided to do a bigger batch this fall once the majority of the heat had passed. I ordered 50 chicks from Hoover's Hatchery in Iowa, as that's where I got my original 10 (in addition to 10 of my layers) and all were super healthy. There was some initial stress on that first batch- the hatchery put the wrong phone number on the box, so the post office couldn't get ahold of me for 2 hours. Out of that batch I lost 6 chicks in the first WEEK. I had posted an add to sell the extras on Craigslist, and had sold 35 within 2 days. So, mostly on a whim, I decided to order another 50. I know.

    I moved that batch out into a small tractor (the one I had my first 10 in) when they were 8 days old- they had a dog house with bedding and a lamp, but a lot more space than in my brooder. They did really well- one day that was really warm I lost one to an unknown cause, and another died last week, it just hunkered down and seemed to have problems with one leg, it wouldn't eat/drink/move, then died within a day. But the way things have been going I consider those 2 deaths in 2 weeks a victory. At 2.5 weeks I moved them to a bigger PVC tractor.

    Then the second batch- I got them in time, was sure to put vitamins (I use molasses and raw ACV instead of commercial vitamins, as they provide the same nutrients and are much easier for me to mix on a small scale that those mondo packs of vites) in their water from day one (which I didn't do for the first batch until like day 4 out of pure dinginess, and it's the first batch of chicks I ever NOT given it to...). One was DOA in the box, and one had obvious leg issues from the start and died the second day, but from then on they did great.

    But then I jumped the gun. Thinking a day or two wasn't going to make a big deal (and because their brooders were SUPER gross) I moved them out to the small tractor (after cleaning it REALLY well and sanitizing from the first batch...) on day 6. Big mistake. I lost two the first night, found one outside the second night chilled and barely alive, and the next night that one and one additional chick died. But after that they seemed to be okay (this was last Wed, I believe) and things have been fine since.

    UNTIL yesterday. I have one completely down in the legs- they started out all curled under, but he could kind of scoot, but now his legs are all pushed behind him and he can barely scoot. He probably won't make it through the day. And another seems to be in the first stages of this. I've given them both Poly-vi-sol and made sure they're eating, drinking, and that they get moved inside to the heat each night (there's a small step that they can't make it up) but it doesn't seem to be making a difference.

    I'm just so frustrated right now! All total I've lost 11 birds, and if I loose many more I won't have very many for myself and my family to eat over the winter, as 72 are spoken for... of course, I am giving 15 to my mom since they give us (we pay the cost of processing) a half of a beef each year, and I'm sure she won't mind taking only 10... But still, I'm super frustrated right now. I've only ever lost 3 chicks before out of the 65 previous chickens I've had, now 11 with 2 more on the way out? This is the worst part of this "job."
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  2. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    It looks to me like your losses were mostly husbandry issues, so if you learn from your experience, you can avoid those losses next time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011
  3. becky3086

    becky3086 Crested Crazy

    Oct 14, 2008
    Thomson, GA
    So you lost 11 out of 110, that seems about normal to me.
     
  4. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, I have learned a lot.

    But currently I have 8 chicks who are having severe leg problems, and that in not a husbandry issue. Yesterday there were two, today there are 8. I've dosed them all with Poly-vi-sol AND put vitamins in their water, but none seem to be improving.

    Here is what their legs look like:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Is there anything else I can do? Is there any hope for them to get better and live the next 5-6 weeks? I've got the 8 affected chicks in a dog crate in my living room because, if there is a chance they can improve, I don't want them to get smothered by the other 40 chicks in the night (since they sometimes have a hard time getting their head off the ground), and this way it's easier for me to monitor their progress (still hard, since they all look pretty much the same...) and administer vitamins to the right chicks. But what if it continues to spread? I can't have 45 chicks in my dining room!
     
  5. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

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    What are you feeding?
     
  6. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    I don't think molasses or ACV have niacin, which could possibly be causing this problem. If this were me, I'd switch brands of feed and get a new packet of chick vitamin, which are about 3-4$ a giant packet, or if you choose a more natural approach, use Brewer's yeast.
    How warm are your chicks during the daytime? They shouldn't be less than about 80-85 degrees at this point without a heater.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  7. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm feeding store brand broiler feed- the same I've fed all my broilers and that I have my other batch on, who are doing fine.

    I actually do have both brewer's yeast and a half packet of chicken vites, so perhaps I'll have to start giving one of those to the other chicks asap. I'm assuming the Poly-vi-sol I'm giving the affected chicks has niacin.

    They have a heat lamp, and while I haven't checked the temp, whenever I lift the top off their dog house/shelter dealie it's pretty steamy. I've been turning the lamp off during the day the past few days because it's been warm and I noticed the chicks inside were panting. But they have plenty of space to get out of the heat as well.

    I'll try switching feed, too, but man that's gonna suck. The only other broiler feed I can get is $15 for 40 lbs. Assuming it's a niacin deficiency (or some vitamin deficiency) in the feed, would it be sufficient to just give them vitamins in their water from now until processing?

    Thanks for the responses!
     
  8. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, after more research and reading (thanks for the tip in the right direction, Tracydr!) I'm 99.9% sure the problem is Niacin deficiency. I have no idea why it's affecting one batch of chicks and not the other- perhaps the older ones are past being at risk for it? But it sounds like it's 100% fixable- since I can't afford to feed this many chickens the expensive feed long term I'm going to stick with using vites in their water and sprinkling brewer's yeast over their food and see if that is sufficient.

    On that note, does anyone know if those pre-packaged chicken vites break down over time? The package I have I've had in the coop (so it's been hot) since April. Are they still good?

    Anyway, for now it's kinda nice having chicks in the house again:)
     
  9. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Chillin' With My Peeps

    Given that you have a known vitamin deficiency I would pitch the vitamin packet and just buy new. They are not too terribly expensive and there is no reason to chance the vitamin degrading under the circumstances...
     
  10. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

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    I agree with Tracydr (hence the feed question) [​IMG] I almost would wonder if you got a bad batch/bag of feed, or one that just wasn't mixed right. It would be interesting to contact the feed supplier for a nutritional analysis of the feed as compared to a standard chick starter (non-medicated), to see where the niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine levels fall at.

    Complete shot in the dark, but I'm almost wondering that IF they have a niacin or riboflavin deficiency, that it MAY be only this group because good forage has good nutrient levels in the spring, and if they are tractoring on low quality forage (as happens in the fall in these lovely northern states- the decline in quality I mean), whatever the first group made up in forage to compensate is not being made up by this group. Like I said, complete hypothesis made up on a late night, early morning and a couple sips of coffee.
     

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