What is going on???


In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 30, 2014
Last year I had around 26 chicks. I added younger ones to older ones and got them from several sources. They kept dying off, one at a time. After reading up on it I figured that there must have been a disease that was getting to them all. I eventually lost all of them but one, which ended up getting run over by my neighbor's truck.

So this year I got all my birds from the same source, a gentleman who hatches them all on his property. I got them at 4 months old, in hopes that I'd get eggs before winter. Now I've had 7 of the 8 die off. After the first few died, I assumed it might be their water source being dirty, so I've been much more diligent about getting down there and giving them new water every day. I also just picked up some hooks to hang their waterer up so they can't get dirt and poop into it. I just had three more die. Now I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I'm not feeding them enough or what is going on?

The only other factor I could see being an issue is the neighbor also got new chickens this year, a little younger than mine, and they are allowed to free range. I've seen them over on my property a few times and shooed them away, but I'm not sure if maybe they are spreading a disease possibly to my birds?

So I guess the question I have is, how much should I be feeding 8 birds (is there a rule, or is it kind of a guessing game)? Also, if their water gets a little dirty between changing the water, how quickly will they quit drinking it or get sick from it. And if my neighbor's birds aren't dying, should I ask him to keep them penned in so they don't get over to my property? Mine are penned in, but if they get close to the pen then they could still be infecting them, right?
If you free-feed them you never have to worry if they are getting enough to eat or not. They will eat what they need and then stop. I hope that is not the problem!
I would suggest using a free feeding method - this will eliminate trying to worry about how much, how often, etc and gives you some wiggle room for when things happen that prevent you from being there at a feeding time.
My first concern reading your post is that rather than this having anything to do with the visiting birds it may well be related to the demise of your first flock. Because you are not sure what illness took those birds, you cannot be certain that it is not something that is still present on your property (in the coop, in the ground, etc.) and is now infecting your new birds. What specific symptoms were present in the first flock and what symptoms are you seeing in the birds you are losing now? That being said, it is a good idea to practice bio-security and prevent contact with birds of other flocks - either by addressing the issue with the other person and asking them to keep their birds home (very reasonable request and the duty of a responsible owner, imo) or by fencing them off of your property.
Yeah....seriously no symptoms this time around. One day they look fine and are begging for food, the next they're gone. Last year very little symptoms. You would occasionally see a bird getting weak or something, just kinda standing there, not moving around much, almost looking a bit slumped, but still standing. Then sometimes near the end they wouldn't even be standing, just kinda laying there. Property should be the same as the neighbors, we are only on one acre each and it's in an old apple orchard. His birds were fine all year. Last years disease (if that's even what it was) being in the coop still is possible I suppose, though there were no birds in the coop all winter and we had a very cold winter, so I assumed any parasite or virus would have died long ago without a host or warmth to keep them alive.
I would typically fill two feeders (the 3 ft long red feeders with holes in the top) every day for all hte birds I had last year. This year I typically go down and throw in a cup and a half or so of feed every day.
I would typically fill two feeders (the 3 ft long red feeders with holes in the top) every day for all hte birds I had last year. This year I typically go down and throw in a cup and a half or so of feed every day.

So, last year you had 26 chicks and were feeding them two chick feeders worth of feed a day? What type of feed and was this the sole source of nutrition for the birds? This year, how many birds did you get - I know you said they were 4 months at purchase and you have lost 7 or 8, so how many birds were you expecting to subsist off that cup and a half of feed a day? With this information, I would suspect malnutrition has played a large (if not sole) part in the demise of your birds.

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