Week old chicks not eating?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by JennysHens, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. JennysHens

    JennysHens Out Of The Brooder

    57
    4
    48
    Feb 18, 2015
    Hi all! Just posted an introduction post a bit ago, but the primary reason I'm here is for some advice! I'm a first time chicken owner and I have some week old australorp chicks and they seem to be off their feed. Their breathing is good, very bright eyed and active little cuties but they feel thin to me (their keels feel sharp, not a lot of meat on them - I can only go off of what I know parrot wise on 'healthy' vs 'thin' on how their keels feel) and their poo's are watery, more urine than feces and not a good solid mass like their first few days home.

    The only change that's been in their environment is I've started offering occasional treats in the form of mealworms and put a dish of grit in there for them to peck at, so they are able to digest the mealworms - recommended by the local feed store. What seems to be happening is they're shunning their feed in favor of the mealworms and won't eat it. I've adjusted how I feed them so I can keep a closer eye on exactly how much they're eating and I've started adding chick boost (electrolytes) back into their water so they can get a little boost there. Today I crunched up the dried mealworms into small pieces and sprinkled it on top of their feed, thinking maybe that'll encourage them to go back to it and make them forage around in it to try to find the goodies and I wont be offering any treats for the next few days so that (hopefully) they'll get hungry enough to eat what's there - though that does worry me a bit, since they're so young and I know (at least, again, in parrots, that even a day or two of not enough food = very bad!).

    They are housed currently in a home made brooder I made using a big plastic tote with newspaper and pine chips on the bottom, a lid which I modified by cutting out the plastic and putting in a screen for ventilation but to keep them from hopping out. The ambient temperature in the room itself (they're in a guest bathroom currently as I have cats) is around 75-80 with a corner of the brooder at 90-92 degrees to warm up under. They sleep huddled up on the far side from the heat lamp and spend most of their time just roaming around independently. No one seems to be too hot (lethargic, panting, etc) or too cold (huddled together, camping under heat) and they don't seem to have any respiratory difficulty.


    Does anyone else have any advice? Sorry for the novel, but I know sometimes the devil is in the details with husbandry and I don't want to be missing anything! Thank you so much in advance for your warm welcomes and advice, it's greatly appreciated!!! Sorry for all the parrot references as well, I just have a lot of experience in that field - breeding, hand feeding/raising, and owning them (worked for an exotic pet shop for 4 years in college and still own 3 parrots) so I find I'm falling back a lot on that knowledge to try to problem solve lol!
     
  2. bucky52

    bucky52 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,124
    21
    171
    Apr 26, 2011
    I'm no expert.But I I would hold off on the treats and just give them their chick starter food.But I'm sure you will get lots of advice here.they may be a little to hot.if they are staying away from the heat lamp.may want to raise it a bit.
    Good luck.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    34,557
    7,760
    596
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ditto^^^
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

    915
    197
    181
    Apr 22, 2012
    Central Pennsylvania
    I would recommend skipping the treats for several weeks, and just sticking to the chick starter. It's also helpful to put 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per gallon of water, as this helps gut microflora.

    Plastic totes can get really warm inside. You mentioned that they're sleeping on the far side of the tote, away from the heat lamp. Double check the brooder temps at a height of 2" above the flooring. It should be no warmer than 90 to 92 degrees under the heat lamp, and cooler elsewhere in the brooder (e.g., 80-85). If they're too warm, they will cut way back on their feed. To better regulate temperature and keep the brooder from getting too hot, I'd recommend a full screen for the top (e.g., hardware cloth, chicken wire, old screen from house window).

    Also, with runny stools, keep an eye out for symptoms of coccidiosis.

    BTW - Welcome to BYC!!!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
    2 people like this.
  5. JennysHens

    JennysHens Out Of The Brooder

    57
    4
    48
    Feb 18, 2015

    Thanks so much for the detailed advice! I moved the lamp and now they spend part of their time sleeping under it, otherwise exploring so I think we have a happy medium there. I'll do some research into coccidiosis in chickens, their stool has solidified a good bit more today and when I put in fresh food they were much more interested so hopefully we are past it and they'll bulk up for me!
     
  6. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    They were overheated so they drank more water, resulting in runny poop. Watch for lethargy, chicks sleeping too much and empty crops. The first signs of coccidia.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

    915
    197
    181
    Apr 22, 2012
    Central Pennsylvania
    I'm really glad they're doing better!!! [​IMG]

    You're probably already aware of this, but be sure to lower the brooder temperature 5 degrees per week. Black australorps are great birds! Mine is not the super egg layer I've heard about from others, but she's friendly and has gorgeous feathers!
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    34,557
    7,760
    596
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:
    They need to be pretty warm(~85F on the brooder floor right under the lamp) for the first day or two, especially if they have been shipped, until they get to eating, drinking and moving around well. But after that it's best to keep them as cool as possible for optimal feather growth and quicker integration to outside temps. A lot of chick illnesses are attributed to too warm of a brooder. I do think it's a good idea to use a thermometer on the floor of the brooder to check the temps, especially when new at brooding, later i still use it but more out of curiosity than need.

    The best indicator of heat levels is to watch their behavior:
    If they are huddled/piled up right under the lamp and cheeping very loudly, they are too cold.
    If they are spread out on the absolute edges of the brooder as far from the lamp as possible, panting and/or cheeping very loudly, they are too hot.
    If they sleep around the edge of the lamp calmly just next to each other and spend time running all around the brooder they are juuuust right!

    The lamp is best at one end of the brooder with food/water at the other cooler end of the brooder, so they can get away from the heat or be under it as needed. Wattage of 'heat' bulb depends on size of brooder and ambient temperature of room brooder is in. Regular incandescent bulbs can be used, you might not need a 'heat bulb'. You can get red colored incandescent bulbs at a reptile supply source. A dimmer extension cord is an excellent way to adjust the output of the bulb to change the heat without changing the height of the lamp.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. JennysHens

    JennysHens Out Of The Brooder

    57
    4
    48
    Feb 18, 2015
    Didn't even think of using a dimmer on the heat bulb, that's a great tip! They are definitely still active, not a lot of loud peeping and when I dropped the "hot spot" down to 85 and now they are sleeping under it but roaming around most of their day. So they seem to be happier and eating more. Will be checking on them after work tonight and hoping to find some full crops! Thanks again everyone for the advice
     
  10. JennysHens

    JennysHens Out Of The Brooder

    57
    4
    48
    Feb 18, 2015
    [​IMG]

    So follow up question. They are eating better with much more solid poops and fuller crops, however one of them has poo of a different color that is softer and has a very strong odor compared to the others. Could this be a sign of coccidiosis or some other illness? Who is there anything I should be offering them to resolve this? The picture has an example of the regular poop and then the one who's poop seems to be gross, just to give an example. That was from today when I move them to clean the brooder so it's possible it could be stress however one definitely has a smell that is worse compared to the others
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by