Underdeveloped...to worry or not?


In the Brooder
Jul 1, 2016
I have 4 new chicks, they are 5 weeks old. 2 buff orpingtons, 1 barred rock, and 1 americauna. 3 came from a local breeder, but one arrived via mail, her name is Shortcake (she is a buff orpington). She originally came with 3 other mates but the other 3 died in transit, so I know she had a rough journey. When I got shortcake, I was so concerned about her wellbeing alone that I found the other 3 chicks nearby, and was told they had just recently hatched and figured they could all brood together and form a new flock. They were all about the same size when they first arrived. I boosted Shortcake's electrolytes and probiotics to try and encourage her health and growth.

They are now 5 weeks, and the 3 local chicks are growing well and almost fully feathered. Shortcake is still quite small, about the size of the other 3 when they were 2 weeks old. She is feathering, but her feathers are coming in very poorly and look ragged. She eats with the others, and fights for her treats when provided. She is feisty, but just lagging in size and appears a little weaker then the rest.

Do I need to worry? I thought if she survived past 2 weeks she'd be good, but this has been a struggle since day one, and very draining on my nerves. I am so afraid to lose her, but would like to know the honest truth about her prognosis if there are skilled and knowledgeable chicken raisers out there who have maybe come across this before.

Her pictures are below for further reference.
Please and thank you for any help and advice!! :)



Spring Has Arrived
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Jul 16, 2015
What does she look like running around? She does look undersized and under feathered for 5 weeks. If there's something wrong with her you can't change that. My advice it to enjoy her and try not to worry. If she's meant to make it she will, if there's something wrong with her in her development there's not much you can do anyways.

I've been giving mine some scrambled eggs this year and it helps them grow like weeds and they go crazy over them. Maybe trying a protein boost like eggs will help. It is hard not to get attached to them. Wishing your little chick luck.


Jan 24, 2016
Relaxing with my Buns
She is very small for 5 weeks!
Is she eating enough? I have noticed that if one of my chicks isn't eating enough, that they are smaller and don't have as many feathers as they should.
Give her some protein like scrambled eggs etc.



Rest in Peace 1980-2020
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
Extra high protein treats like scrambled eggs or mealworms may help her a bit, as would a multi-vit + mineral supplement for chicks/poultry. You can also give her a little boost by adding a splash of ACV (apple cider vinegar) to their drinking water for a few days. (I use a ratio of roughly 5 tablespoons to a gallon water) This helps nutrient absorption and a has a host of other benefits. Good luck with her!


Feb 7, 2016
Saint Louis, MO
My first shipment of chicks arrived in January and it was apparently quite a stressful journey. I was battling pasty butt/diarrhea in about 7 of the chicks for a solid week and by the end, they hadn't grown at all while their flockmates were twice the size. They remained stunted compared to the others for a long time despite otherwise seeming in good health and behavior. Now that they are adults, they finally caught up in size.

I would definitely take the suggestions made by the others in regards to supplementation--it may be the rough start has affected how well she is able to digest/absorb nutrients. It may fix itself given time, but the extra support will be needed in the meantime. I would continue the probiotic daily, introduce grit if you haven't already done so (strengthens the smooth musculature of the gut), and also I would periodically mix some minced hot peppers into the feed. The capsaicin in the peppers has been proven to stimulate the immune system of the gut--oregano (carvacrol) and cinnamon (cinnealdehyde) also do, but to a lesser extent.


In the Brooder
Jul 1, 2016
Thank you so much for your replies and advice! As and update, Shortcake began becoming more lethargic and did not leave the brooder at all yesterday. I took her to our chicken vet, and she has reported that due to the traumatic travel and stress in the first few days of life, Shortcake did not appropriately absorb her yolk sac, and it is now festering in her gullet, which explains why she refuses to eat or drink in the past few days. They're going to give her antibiotics, and said that if she is able to pull through and gain strength, and grow a little larger, she may be able to pass this and do alright. For now, I am just hoping for the best, but unfortunately expecting the worst.


In the Brooder
Jul 1, 2016
Thank you everyone, again. Final update, I took her to the vet and they were going to keep her overnight for surveillance. Just got my update call from them. She was starting to perk up and get more energy, but apparently the yolk began to swell and pressed on her lungs. She has passed away. Quite heart breaking, much more impacted than I thought I would be. I became very bonded with her over the past 5 weeks. Very sad to say goodbye.

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