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What can cause early mortality in new chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mountainwhisper, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. mountainwhisper

    mountainwhisper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 6, 2010
    Southwest Virginia
    My two cochin's passed away 1.5 days after hatching, and never were strong enough to stand. I had a buff orpington chick that died last night after making it about 4 days. They were the only three out of 5 that developed to make it to hatching. This whole process has been something that our family has planned for a while. Now that it has ended so badly I wonder if I made the right decision. I have 18 eggs and a storebought bator coming next week. We are going to try again, and I want to know what some possible causes could have been?

    Heres the info: cochins were "sticky" and had open navels at hatching. the buff appeared healthy and then didn't gain weight and got weaker despite eating and drinking. She was also loud unless we were right beside her brooder. She fluffed out fine and could run and peck and seemed okay. We also separated her from the cochins immediately when we saw the open navels. What are some things I can do to prevent this next hatch? Should I use medicated feed this time? I had been using a 60watt bulb in the brooder, do I need an actual heat bulb? she seemed content and the temp registered at 99.5. Maybe I need a different brand thermometer? What is the best one? Any info is appreciated. Thanks [​IMG]
  2. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    Hi mountainwhisper, sorry about your losses.[​IMG]

    I can think of a couple of possible reasons.

    Unhealed navels are easily infected, and the chicks may develop septicemia. You might be able to see a dark patch under the chick's abdomen, where the infection has spread and destroyed tissue, if this is the case. Infected chicks chirp a lot, take little interest in food and huddle under the heat. They tend to die in the first couple of days, but I've had them die at day 7 after seeming okay for a couple of days. Chicks that hatch early (incubator too hot) or have excess humidity during incubation may be more prone to unhealed navels. (Also if they're helped out of the shell they may still have yolk unabsorbed.)

    Chirping chicks that die at day 4 may also not have learned to eat yet (dipping the beaks can help) or may be too cold or too hot. I wouldn't worry too much about a thermometer but the best way to work out if chicks are warm enough (or too hot) is to watch behavior. If they huddle together right under the globe, the globe wattage is too low (or the lamp sitting too high). If they go to the far corners away from the lamp, the lamp is too hot (or too low in the brooder).

    Hope that helps,
  3. HBuehler

    HBuehler Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2009
    Lebanon TN
    Honestly there is so many reasons why chicks die many times things we can't see.Those that die that young usually have issues when they hatch and since they absorb the egg before hatch it will keep them alive for a few days. It sounds like you have an incubator problem for sure.They need to be at a constant 99 degrees with a fan-I never suggest anyone hatch without one..also try dry incubation/hatching it really increased our hatch rates to nearly 100% every hatch.Sounds like your temps were too low and humidity too high which will lead to all the problems you listed.
    My chicks live in our basement which isn't cold and I always use heat bulbs 250 watts for a week to 10 days or so then a 125 until they are well feathered out before changing them over to a 65 watt flood light bulb-transfers more light so they are less apt to pile. I never use a thermometer in my brooders..I watch the chicks and they tell me exactly how comfortable they are.From your description your problems started in the bator not the brooder.
    Don't give up but I do suggest using local eggs or your own until you have it better to save you some money...shipped eggs are expensive and have so so hatch rates at best.
  4. mountainwhisper

    mountainwhisper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 6, 2010
    Southwest Virginia
    wow that was alot of info in two replies [​IMG] Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with me. I want to correct any problems so we don't have a repeat issue. My 6 and 2yr old are devastated over not having any chicks. It was a long three weeks for them and me lol. I will certainly take both of your replies to heart and correct any problems that you hit on. Thanks!


    Oct 17, 2008
    this sounds alot like what is happening to my new chicks right now...hatched 8 ..6 died before making it to the brooder 1 died last night after making it to the brooder. i was wondering if maybe there was a batceria in the incubator from my first hatch. because this happened to me about a month ago. i hatched 13 out of 15 and before the second day all were dead.
  6. HBuehler

    HBuehler Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2009
    Lebanon TN
    Always bleach or oxine your bator between every hatch or your asking for trouble.Hot water bleach and a toothbrush for every corner and spot you can reach.That saying your hatch rates will go down with a styro bator isn't true...we use 5 of them non stop and have super hatch rates.
    Check the battery in the thermometer your using..I change mine every other hatch if I need to or not..had a bad hatch it was reading correctly but it was actually low..those chicks cost me more than the battery so now I just keep it new.I also use a back up in many of my bators.
    You will loose chicks no matter what you do...it's a part of it but when your loosing high numbers then it is something that needs to be corrected...from the bator to are they piling in the brooder? Are you bringing them in disease from outside? One by one you have to eliminate the possibilities. Remember when handling the chicks where have you been? We don't wear the same shoes in our basement and hand sanitizer is by the chicks at all times.
    We had an excessively hot summer and found our animals water had a higher bacteria count than normal..still safe but we lost a few more chicks than I liked...went to bottled water and the problem was solved.Safe for large animals and people(we have RO on our water though) doesn't mean ok for a tiny chick.We also went to bottled water in the bator and went back to 100% hatches..was down to 80 or so and that's not acceptable here.
    After you have exhausted all look at the condition of the parent birds..ok better to do this first make sure they are bug free outside and inside.Worms and mites on parent stock will result in weaker chicks.Shipped eggs you have no idea and it's out of your control.
    Just finished a small batch of bantam Ameraucana chicks last night one more before my Christmas hatch then no more until New Years..a week without hatching I will have withdrawls [​IMG]
  7. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

    May 13, 2008
    I think feed is also very important when it comes to hatching and I don't mean chick feed. What you feed and they quality of feed you give your breeding birds you intend to hatch is critical. If I plan on hatching my breeders are always put on a high 28% or beeter feed for at least 1 mo before collecting eggs. A healthy parent breeder group, makes for healthy better chicks. You may also want to bone up on tweeking your hatching knowledge as this is always a plus.


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