I need some advise about my chicks

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My 25 chicks are now 2 weeks old. Most of them are growing nicely, but a few of them are very small compared to the rest of the flock. Two of the little ones are not doing well. I have seperated them into a little "hospital" box. I doubt they will survive the night.

I have a book on raising poultry. The author states that it is not unusual to loose a few birds. I have read about the disease coccidiosis and wonder if the sick birds have it, although I have never had chickens at this house before so I do not know where they could have contracted it. Could it be that the weak chicken have some type of "failure to thrive"? The chicks are warm, dry, and well fed and watered.

I will appreciate any information about experience anyone has with chickens that relates to the above. I got some reassuring advise the last time I posted chicken question.

-- monique (me@home.here), October 27, 1999


check out the livestock forum at http://www.mrssurvival.com eddy

-- eddy (ddd@ddd.ddd), October 27, 1999.


If you got your chicks from Murray McMurray or some other large hatchery, aren't they vaccinated against coccidiosis, or just against Marek's disease? I think it's doubtful that only a couple of them would show signs if it's cocci.

Failure to thrive, though, is a catch-all term based on truth, and often you just can't tell why. Check their little rear ends to be sure they haven't "pasted up", and if they have, clean them off with cotton soaked in warm water. Even if you pull a little down out, it's better than leaving any there. You might put a little sugar in their water, if you haven't already, and handle them as little as possible. Chick mortality usually is just from "unknown cause", I'm afraid. Not much you can do.

-- Scat (sgcatique@webtv.net), October 27, 1999.

Our 16 are all doing well (3 months old), and are now outdoors. Watch for drafts...and consider moistening the feed of the small ones. Pray over them. Good luck.

-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), October 28, 1999.


I am no chicken expert, for sure, but have raised a couple of batches over time.

I just went back and reread the other post. Did you swith them to chick starter feed? I would hold off giving them any supplimental feed with the exception of some flies (love to watch them run and fight over a fly or two).

Coccidia (sp) is an internal parasite, just had a run of it when I acquired some goat kids. Did you get them from McMurry? It shouldn't be a problem from there. If you got them from a feed store/other source?

Coccidia is species specific, so a goat can't pass it to a rabbit or chicken, etc. So it can't be from a source of any other animals you might have, nor since they have never been on the ground, they couldn't have gotten it at your present location. Standard chick starter feed will contain meds. for prevention of this, so I hope you switched to the starter. If not, Corid 20% is available at your local feed store, but unfortunately, I can't find any dosage amounts on hand right now.

Did you get any suppliments for their drinking water? This is an electrolyte which you mix in their drinking water. It is worth the effort to give them this. Now you can get this powder with or without vitamins, etc. Not all feed stores I go to have the vitamin mix. Especially for those that are smaller or not thriving as well, this gives them a nutritional boost to compete. A home made mix will work, but with electrolytes you get a good balance. (Now I don't mean to step on anyones toes with home mixes, use them myself all the time, but when a problem exists, sometimes we have to stick with science :-)).

Drafts, I think, is about the only other harm that could come to them as long as the temperature stays up fairly consistantly, and you know already how to judge if they are in a draft.

Are the weak ones legs strong? Are they feathering out at the same rate as the larger ones? What kind of bedding are they in? (I am an anti bedding person, and advocate newspapers all the way as long as adequate protection from floor chills).

I am trying to think of anything else, but darn it, it is 6 a.m., and last nights "nap" was too short. Good luck, and post soon to let us know how things are going.

-- Lilly (homesteader145@yahoo.com), October 28, 1999.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond.

I got the chicks from McMurray. They were vaccinated against Marek's before they were sent.

This AM one of the chicks is back to normal, the other still the same. I returned the healthy one back to the flock but it appears that the bigger ones block it from the food. It doesn't scrap to get its share like the others. I may seperate it again so it can strengthen and grow. Maybe its not getting the food it needs.

I did get some boost to add to the water and have been using it since the birds arrived. There are no drafts getting into the box. It's plenty big for all the chicks, they have lots of room. I have been using newspaper on the bottom and cleaning it daily.

Lilly, you advocate using newspaper for bedding. I was planning to get some wood chip type bedding but after reading your comments I'm re-thinking that. I take it you have had better luck with newspapers.

I will try the website mrsurvival.com. I searched for chicken info last night but could not find anything that addressed my issues.


-- monique (me@home.here), October 28, 1999.


I forgot to mention that I have been cleaning the butts of the chicks that need it. The butts are quite clean now. Some of them were pasted in the first week.

I know this is late in the season to get chicks, but due to where I live I could not get them any earlier. We are moving to the country where chickens are OK. The house I live in now is in town and has zoning, so I can not have the critters outside. The cellar will due while they are young then they will have to move to the country with us. Their country home is under construction now. I am going to insulate it because I'm concerned that they will be going from inside to outside just as the cold weather hits.


-- monique (me@home.here), October 28, 1999.

Be sure they have plenty of room to run around and spread the feed out a little so eveyone isn't fighting over the same feeder. Also make sure they have plenty of feed - once the bigger ones get a full tummy, the little one could eat.

I quit having my chicks vaccinated because we lost several each batch. When I quit, we didn' lose any. Don't know if it was related, but all of our last batch of chickens are over a year old and quite healthy. The only problem is the wild animals at times.

-- beckie (sunshine_horses@yahoo.com), October 28, 1999.

Good monique, I was waiting and hoping things where better. I just like paper better because I know when it is clean and I think bad "stuff" can grow in bedding in a very short time. Gosh they get dirty quick don't they! I think Beckie probably has it figured, just the little guys getting cheated on the food.

Scat, (Hello!) what is that when they plaster up like that, I have forgotten?

Beckie, I have heard that also about the vaccine and that one didn't really need to have it done unless it was a problem in your area.

We lost a chick (9 weeks old) yesterday. Now she was the "mystery chick" that came with the order, and she was alot bigger than the others, slower and clumsy at that. I don't know what she was. But the others picked on her terribly, not literally pecking her, but chasing her and keeping her unsettled. By all appearances, she just died, kind of sad. We had became attached to her, but had to draw the line when son wanted to bring her into the house...

We certainly worry over our critters don't we?

-- Lilly (homesteader145@yahoo.com), October 28, 1999.

monique- just be sure they all get access to the food. Separate them if needed- smaller ones get extra tlc. don't worry about it being late to raise chicks- my Banty hen has a couple of chicks out there right now- 11 degrees in the a.m. here these days... we also have a couple of her chicks in here with us that hatched out when it was too cold and they couln't keep up. we just keep them on newspaper and feed them chicken feed. period. could also just be something's not right with a few of them- it happens. If most look fine- don't worry. you'll lose a chicken now and then for no obvious cause-

-- farmer (hillsidefarm@drbs.com), October 28, 1999.


You message about your chicks in the cold weather is welcomed.

I have been giving the little sick bird warm water with chick booster, sugar and some grain in it every couple hours. It seems a little better that it did early this morning.

I was going to put the chick out of its misery but I'm not sure of the best way to do it quickly. I have no problem preparing a full grown bird for the table, but I am not sure what to do with the little bird. I figured I'd make a project out of it to see if I can save it.

Thanks for all the advise everyone.


-- monique (me@home.here), October 28, 1999.


We used newspaper for the first several weeks for bedding (changing daily) and it worked well enough. Eventually, we moved them into laying cages.

-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), October 28, 1999.

Hi Lilly,

When they paste up, it's just their little poops that didn't drop all the way. It only takes one to get all the next ones stuck too.

I always got Marek's innoculations for my McMurray chicks & rarely lost any. But you know, when they make up your order to ship, it may include chicks hatched at different times of the day - so that they ship some 20 hours old, & some 2 hours old, for example, together to make up the order. Doesn't make much difference, but I imagine an innoculation is harder on the 2 hour-old than the 20 hour-old. Also they are a little more fragile at 2 hours. (This is mostly guesswork though) When I got mixed colors in Cochin banties, I could usually tell who'd hatched out last. They were a little harder to teach to drink.

I get mad at Mad Monk and his "laying cages". Put those birds on your nice, warm earth, Monk; let them scratch and be happy. You'll get better tasting eggs with more golden yolks later.

Good luck, monique, sounds to me like you're doing everything right!

-- Scat (sgcatique@webtv.net), October 28, 1999.

My chicks are due tomorrow from Belt Hatchery ("Classy Chicks"). I ordered Rhode Island Reds, their last batch of the season.

I was planning to give them a floor of cardboard covered with newspaper. I gues this is what is being suggested here. Then, the paper is changed 2X/day, right?

I feel for you, Monique. I am hoping that all my chicks arrive and stay healthy, even though a small loss is not abnormal.. it would be hard.

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), October 29, 1999.

Sara, new puppies and baby chicks at the same time...you sound as bad as me. Good luck getting some sleep the next couple weeks!

monique, I understand what you mean about the difference between butchering for the table and a cute baby chick.

Scat, that makes sense about the age difference. I have always had mine vaccinated because we have commercial poultry producers in this area, so I figured Merek's might be in the neigborhood.

P.S. Scat, I get "mad" at Mad Monk myself, not about the chickens, but about having your own coffee trees in the front yard!!! :-)

-- Lilly (homesteader145@yahoo.com), October 29, 1999.


You'd get really aggravated at this: the breeder we got our pups from grows coffee and is throwing in several three-foot Kona coffee plants to sweeten the deal!

Yes, we are certfiably-over-committed here. All of our prep's and plans seem to be falling into place now, though.

One last question (hah, don't bet on it- the chicks arrive in a few hours!): I followed Carla Emery's instructions and bought a commercial poultry feed. In an obscure ag document, I noticed they suggested using "chicken crumble starters" for the first week.

Does it matter? I will be giving them a vitamin/Mineral mix called Bio-Chix.

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), October 29, 1999.

Sara (and by extension Mad Monk)!

Well, in a couple of months, as I fight the bitter cold and wind, shoveling my way to the chicken coop, trying to stay vertical, I will think of the two of you. Then I will go inside, have a cup of coffee and smile and think of you some more. :-)

I just like, if at all possible to go with the chick crumbles, starter as it is sometimes called. It is the correct nutrient balance. I don't have a bag handy any more (my chicks are 9 weeks old and on a grower mix now), but it is medicated, if that is a factor. I can't remember, I think chicks might require 20% protein? I think grower is 15-16 and laying mix is 18% and has higher calcuim? Now I am just guessing here.

I can't say one feed is better than the other, but just give my opinion, for what it is worth! I don't like meds, etc, in my animals any more than in my self, but I figure when an animal needs the meds, just like a person, they need to have them. I know the coccidia medication in the chick starter could be worth its weight in gold. (But then as I said, I just went through it with my goat kids after I got them, so I am a bit gun shy about that).

With the unknowns in front of us shortly, we need to sometimes compromise. We might want to go with no meds. normally, but we also want to be sure we have eggs next year.

Keep us updated on your zoo!

-- Lilly (homesteader145@yahoo.com), October 29, 1999.

I don't like to feed med. feeds- so- I've been known to just crush up the layer pellets and feed that to chicks. Or- you can get them mash feed- is just like chick starter with no meds- slightly different protein numbers but I haven't noticed any problems. Chickens are relatively forgiving- kept warm, dry, out of drafts, well fed and watered- most will thrive. (Except the ones the dogs get- be careful Sara!!)

-- farmer (hillsidefarm@drbs.com), October 29, 1999.

Boy are these birds CUTE! All arrived healthy and much more robust than I expected. They are eating the chick crumbles and drinking even as we speak.

I appreciate all of the coaching. I WILL watch out for the dogs and chickens, thank you. They will be kept apart and also, the dogs will be taught "NO!!!" to their first sight of the chickens, which will be a bit later. One an only hope that they will get the message.

How are your chicks tonight, monique?

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), October 29, 1999.

Sorry to say but the chick died. The rest of the flock is doing very well.

I noticed an odd thing about the sick chick. The first sign that something was different was that part of its wing dropped. The healthy birds' wings have the longest feathers on the upper part of the wings. The sickly bird's longer feathers dropped to the bottom of the wing as though it's muscles couldn't hold the feather in position .

There is a little bird in the flock with the longest feathers slightly lower on its wings than the longest feathers on the wings of the rest of the birds. We keep watching that bird but it seems to be acting like the rest of them.

It is unfortunate that we lost the bird but I have learned alot from this discussion.


-- monique (me@home.here), October 30, 1999.


I am sorry to hear about the chick you lost. I am watching mine like a mother hen, also. Let's hope we have healthy results for the duration with the remaining chicks. Best of luck.

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), October 31, 1999.

Thanks everyone for the chicken wisdom and encouragement.

Watchin the chickens, monique

-- monique (me@home.here), October 31, 1999.

Monique: I recommend 1 tablespoon of vinegar per half gallon of water in your water jars. Also, 1 tsp of Basic H per gallon of water is what I use for worms and parasites of all types (including cocciodiosis). Good luck!

-- jeanne (jeanne@hurry.now), October 31, 1999.


I have never heard of Basic H. What is it and where can I get some?


-- monique (me@home.here), November 01, 1999.

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