Why did my chick die?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mirandalola, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. mirandalola

    mirandalola Out Of The Brooder

    81
    1
    36
    Oct 13, 2016
    NorthEast Texas, USA
    I had 6 1-week-olds and 7 2-week-olds living together happily in my terrarrium (think aquarium but one side opens). They have a heating pad on the bottom and a heat lamp on the top. They've been there for 3 days. Woke up this morning and one of the 1-week-olds was dead! What happened?

    They're not too cold, they don't stay clustered around the hot side of the terrarium. My husband thinks that maybe this one was on the bottom of the sleeping pile and overheated.

    All my little chickies are scared now :(
     
  2. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,965
    290
    148
    Feb 7, 2016
    Saint Louis, MO
    I am sorry, but I think there is a pretty good chance that your chick overheated with two heat sources going in a relatively small space. And not necessarily because of a dogpile. Unless you're keeping the terrarium in the freezer, I would pick one heat source and make sure you have a temperature gradient of about 20 degrees from one end to the other if you pick the lamp. The heat source should come from above like a mama hen, not from below--you can either keep using your lamp or convert your heating pad into a cave (search "Mama Heating Pad" to get to a very long thread on the topic). My preference is heating pad cave in small spaces because it is a contact heater instead of having to heat the air--much easier for the chicks to regulate their temps.
     
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    20,120
    8,576
    596
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    What she said. In addition, those 2 week olds require far less heat, and even with the 1 week olds, are you turning the heat completely off for a couple of hours per day? If you are not, you should. What are the dimensions of that terrarium? They should have at least 13 sq. ft. in the first week and after that, I recommend 2 s.f./chick
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    10,517
    3,731
    461
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    What those guys said, ditto.

    Be aware, chicks need heating, not the brooder. You accomplish this with one heat source, not by creating an oven out of your brooder.

    It should be the cardinal rule of brooding chicks - heat the chicks not the brooder!
     
  5. mirandalola

    mirandalola Out Of The Brooder

    81
    1
    36
    Oct 13, 2016
    NorthEast Texas, USA
    Thank you!

    I didn't think it would be possible for them to get too hot since the thermometer on the cool end of the terrarium said 72 degrees.... Now I'm not sure I trust that thermometer! I will start turning off the heat lamp for a couple of hours every day.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,474
    3,861
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    It could be hard to know why it died even if we were there looking at it instead of across the internet. There are different things that could have happened.

    Were there any injuries to the chick? Did one of the others peck it to death? I’ve had that happen before, a 2 week old just attack and kill its sibling. If this is the cause there should be bare spots with meat showing. It should be pretty obvious.

    Had you heard any distress peeping? This is a very sad constant plaintive peep, very consistent, that chicks do when they are in distress. Once you hear it you recognize it, you just know something is wrong, it’s that sad. It can happen when a chick gets separated from the broody hen, when it gets cold, or if it gets hungry or thirsty so it could mean different things but it is a clear sign the chick was in distress.

    One time I had a chick just standing in the brooder peeping. It was about a week old. Although I had dipped all their beaks in the water when I put them in the brooder, this one never learned to drink. Usually if one learns the others learn by watching it. Not this one. I dipped its beak in the water and it just stood there drinking for quite a while. A chick can live a long time off of the absorbed yolk at hatch, but some never learn to eat or maybe drink and eventually starve to death or die of thirst. You don’t always hear that plaintive peeping.

    Sort of along with this, some chicks are just not right when they hatch. There might be something wrong with the heart, the digestive system, or some other organ or system. It doesn’t matter what you do, they are just not meant to make it. Most of these just die in the first week or two.

    It’s possible a chick got caught on the bottom and was smothered or crushed, with living animals you can never say never, but it’s unlikely. Most of the time something like that happens it’s when you have a few dozen or more and something panics them. They all pile up at one end of the brooder. When they sleep in a group it’s not really piled on top of one another. They sleep together because they like the comfort of the group not because they are cold, but if one was having trouble breathing it should be able to wriggle around and solve its problem. It’s possible something you don’t know about panicked them and caused a pile-up, but it’s really not likely this was caused by them sleeping in a pile.

    I assume your brooder is in the house where the temperature is fairly constant and they are not exposed to outside winds. Since they were acting as they were, I really doubt there was enough of a temperature variation, either hot or cold, to cause any problem. Too much heat is a big danger to chicks, especially in small tight brooders like aquariums. But your terrarium had an open side and you said the chicks were acting normal as far as signs of heat or cold go. How the chick act is your best indication of how hot or cold they are. I certainly agree the best brooders have one area warm enough and another area cool enough. This takes away any worries you have about keeping the brooder a perfect temperature. With a temperature range to choose from they self-regulate quite well.

    LG and I usually agree on most things but I’ve raised 28 chicks to five weeks old in a brooder that was 3’ x 5’. That’s about a half a square foot per chick. Most of those were female. I raised 21 chicks, mostly male, in the same brooder to the same age. In both cases they were getting crowded but I did not have the behavioral problems you expect when they are over-crowded. I don’t believe in magic numbers for much of anything to do with chickens, there are just too many variables. No matter what magic number someone mentions somebody else can come up with an example where it just isn’t so. While I certainly agree that more room is better, from my experience you don’t need one square foot per chick the first week, let alone the second or third. The more chicks you have the less per square feet per chick is required. I don’t know how big your terrarium is, it could be pretty crowded with 13 chicks even at that age. It would be good to know how big that terrarium is, it may be too crowded now or you may soon be headed for trouble. It may or may not have contributed to the problem.

    My guess is that there was just something wrong with the chick when it hatched, not something you did or did not do. The age is about right for something like that. If it doesn’t happen again don’t concern yourself. If it does happen again, then it might be something else. It’s just hard to say.
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    20,120
    8,576
    596
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    I agree with you up to a point regarding space, and even many other issues pertaining to raising chicks. But, when I advise a newbie, it's often good to start some where regarding need for space, correct temp, etc. Otherwise, if that new person does not know what to look for, what to expect, signs that something is not right, having a starting place can prevent a lot of problems. I throw out that figure, because I've seen some folks start chicks in a brooder that is way too small, to the point that chicks have standing room only. One thing you and I definitely agree on, is the more chicks or birds in general, the less important it is to meet that "arbitrary sq. ft. space" number. Much different dynamics when 4 hens have 16 s.f. compared to 100 hens having 400 s.f. In the case of 100, they could get by with less. However, even with my larger flock, I usually adhere to the arbitrary figure, b/c IMO, more space = more contented flock. There are times when I have yet to cull older birds, am raising young birds when my space gets a bit crowded, but that's not often.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    Without writing you a book on dos and dont's....I will say, I think they need less heat...leave all heat off or create a larger brooder where they can get away from the heat or use it when needed...Hot Chicks will pant, cold Chicks peep loud..Happy Chicks run around happily pecking....
    Every week the heat needs to be dropped till Chicks can handle 70'F......Once fully feathered at 3 to 4 weeks no heat required...

    Cheers!
     
  9. mirandalola

    mirandalola Out Of The Brooder

    81
    1
    36
    Oct 13, 2016
    NorthEast Texas, USA
    Thank you all!

    This evening we noticed another one of the younger chicks acting very lethargic. We took it out and held it gently, wrapped it up to keep it warm, tried to tempt it with some boiled egg yolk, but it didn't want to eat. It consented to drink a little bit of water (which had a few drops of apple cider vinegar), but then it just slept and died.

    I'm thinking coccidiosis? Tomorrow I'm going to the feed store first thing in the morning and getting some medicine for my 11 surviving chickies!
     
  10. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    I always use medicated chick starter till 8 weeks old.

    Cheers!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by