And Then There Were None.

Chick and Teddy Bear

Sad news. Over the weekend all of my chicks died. I didn’t expect the sick little chick to make it, but the other two seemed perfectly healthy! I’m not sure what happened.

When I found the second dead chick, the remaining one was sitting up against its head. Had it accidentally suffocated its sibling? I’ve been told that this happens often. I just couldn’t tell.

But then I noticed the temperature in the brooder (the box they were in). It was only 83*, when it was supposed to be 90*. I realized that the bulb I had in the heat lamp was only a 40 watt bulb, when it should have been 75-100 watts! I quickly changed it out, and brought the temp up to where it should have been.

The poor little things! I was freezing them to death! Goodness. Messing up with gardening and stuff is one thing, but when you are dealing with a little spirited life, it’s not fun at all. I felt really bad. I should have done more research. I should have been smarter.

I really hate learning the hard way.

On Sunday I could see that our last chick was just not going to make it. She just laid around, and looked as if she were already dead most of the day. Every so often I would pick her up and put her beak into the water to drink. She would drink a little, and then I’d lay her back down. She was weak, and stumbled around when she did try to walk. She died later that afternoon.

Sad. Poor little things.

I just wish I knew for sure what went wrong. Our egg turner had stopped turning at some point during the incubation process. I’m sure that’s why we had such a poor hatch rate. Only three out of the 15 eggs hatched. Were my chicks improperly developed? Did the sick chick spread some form of bad bacteria to the healthy chicks? Did that one get suffocated because I had the temps too low which caused them to huddle so closely together?

Next time, we will do better.

Many of you on Facebook gave me lots of good advice that I wanted to share here:

  1. Bacteria is the number one killer of baby chicks.
  2. Make sure the brooder is the correct temperature.
  3. Check the chicks bottoms to make sure that the droppings aren’t getting stuck there and clogging them up.
  4. If they get too cold, they will pile up together to keep warm, and the chicks on the bottom could be suffocated.
  5. It is helpful to add antibiotic drops to the chicks water. One friend even suggested adding one drop of Colloidal Silver to the water.
  6. Medicated food is an option.
  7. Add electrolyte and vitamin powder to the water for the first week, and then 4-6 Tbsp sugar per gallon of water. (We did add a little sugar to the water, but not sure it was that much.)

We’ll be saving our money for an egg turner, if we can’t fix the old one we have. Once we have that settled, we’ll try hatching another batch.

11 thoughts on “And Then There Were None.”

  1. Kendra, I was noticing the picture w/ the chick & teddy bear. Was that one of your chicks?? I noticed the shavings that is used for bedding. I just wanted to warn you that I would recommend not to use shavings!!! Straw is much better. They will try to peck at it & if they get some in their stomach, they can’t digest it & it will make them sick & they die from it. I know… we found that out the hard way. I’m been around chicks all my life & they r usually very hardy fellas. But they certainly do the best if they are raised by a momma hen. Like different ones mentioned there r various things that they can die from. Chicks is about the easiest to raise as far as heat or temp goes on. I have to doubt that yours died because of the temp drop one day. Hope this helps!!

  2. It seems like unhealthy chicks normally follow poor hatching rates. As for your poor hatching rate, it may be the egg turner, but I’d be at least as suspicious of the (cheap?) temperature control on the incubator. If you can get a good hatch, I think you’ll be fine without antibiotics, medicated feed, or anything like that.

    Your best bet, though, may be to look to broody hens. I’ve never had a hen to hatch unhealthy biddies. Some dummy eggs left in the nest might help get things started, but most important is probably a really dark nesting site without too many disruptions (other hens competing for the same spot, etc.) Of course, breeding/genetics plays a big role in broodiness, too.

  3. You need to check out the manufacturer of the egg turner. We have an egg turner from GQF MFg. and they made our hovabator incubator. You can just buy a new motor from them and it is half the cost of the new egg turner. I think it was 23.00 on their webpage. Hope that helps and God Bless!

  4. Don’t forget,People learn from situations like this, Imagine all the chicks you’ll be saving and others you’ll be helping because of what you have learned.

  5. All 8 of our chicks hatched out on Saturday in our homemade incubator. They look really well, but now I’m concerned. I can’t wait to get home (I’m at work) and check on them. I hope they are ok.

  6. Aww…I’m so sorry to hear about the chicks. Good for you for trying though…and not losing heart and being willing to try again. Just think, now you know…the lessons were learned…and you’ll be successful next time.

  7. oh! so sorry!!!! =( We all make mistakes…I hope this doesn’t ruin your whole week!
    Thank you for sharing your failures as well as your sucesses.

  8. I meant to add that I haven’t raised chicks from eggs yet, but would like to. So I’m learning along with you. Thanks for sharing even your mistakes and the “mechanical failures” of devices so that I know what to look out for when my turn comes.


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