Troubleshooting Chick Problems
Troubleshooting Chick Problems

Troubleshooting Chick Problems


Those sweet little chickies are so fluffy and snuggly, but unfortunately they can also be very sensitive and susceptible to disease. Over the last few years of hatching and raising chicks I’ve learned a few tricks I’d love to share with you! Hopefully some of these tips will help you keep those babies healthy!



Coccidiosis


The biggest challenge I’ve faced with raising chicks is coccidiosis! Coccidiosis is a type of bacteria that lives in just about every yard! If chicks are exposed to coccidiosis too early it can destroy their intestines. As your birds grow they will become more able to keep it at bay, and they basically develop immunity to it. Even if you keep your chicks in the house or garage coccidiosis can rear its ugly head, especially during rainy or humid weather. Moisture creates a breeding ground for the nasty little bug. Signs that your chicks are fighting a coccidiosis infection include sluggishness, ruffled feathers, pale combs, and bloody poop. I’ve had coccidiosis kill chicks that are anywhere from a day old to 3 or even 4 months old! It can also affect older birds, so try to keep an eye on them in wetter weather, as well! I’ve found that the best way to fight coccidiosis is to give them medicated feed and add corid to their water if they start to show symptoms of coccidiosis or when the weather is moist (I usually add about a teaspoon per gallon). Do not give the chicks vitamin B1 if you think they have coccidiosis, because the bacteria feeds on this vitamin. I know many people prefer to avoid medicating their chickens, but in my experience treating them with corid lowered my chick mortality rate by a huge margin! In my opinion it is totally worth it, especially for silkies and other more sensitive chicks!



Temperature


Another important factor is keeping chicks healthy is the temperature! When they are only a few days old the temperature needs to be in the high nineties. For the sake of this post I’m not going to give you specific numbers, but you can easily look it up on the web. If you are having trouble keeping your babies alive and thriving check to make sure they are not too hot or too cold. You can tell they’re too hot if they are avoiding the heat source or panting. If they are too cold they will be sluggish and huddled tightly together. Be especially vigilant when there are drastic weather changes! Try to keep your chicks in a spot where you can control the temperature. If you’ve moved older chicks outside make sure you give them a heat source on cold nights!


Lice and Mites


Lice and mites seem to be ever present menaces of the chicken world! When I first started raising chicks on a larger scale I was shocked when all of my baby silkies started to die. It took a while, but I eventually realized they had lice. They were in a shed that was on the opposite side of the house from the larger chicken pens. To this day I have no idea how the lice managed to make their way over to that shed, but since then I’ve been more careful to check for both lice and mites on the babies! I also sanitize brooders about once a week! If there is an infestation I sprinkle them with poultry dust. Honestly, the natural stuff like lime and diatomaceous earth just doesn’t work in my experience if there is an actual manifestation of lice or mites! The permethrin in poultry dust has been gentle enough to use on my chicks that are at least a week old if needed.



Fowl Pox


Fowl Pox comes in a variety of forms and danger levels. In my experience all of my younger chickens seem to come down with it every fall. They only get it once in their lives, and for me it has been mild. I do have friends, however, who have lost chickens to this nasty looking disease. The mild version my flock has gotten looks like small black sores all over their skin, and it usually lasts for 2-3 weeks. If you notice your flock fighting pox I recommend giving them extra vitamins and probiotics to help fight it off. I also recommend separating your youngest, most susceptible babies from the flock until it passes. You may need to have house chickens for a few weeks!


I’ve only given you a few of the possible problems and ailments that can arise when you raise chicks. The best thing you can do to keep your babies healthy is to keep their food and water fresh and clean, and sanitize the brooder frequently. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you lose some. All of us chicken tenders know how difficult chickening can be and you are not alone! Do your best to learn from your mistakes and do your research! Enjoy those cute little fluff balls, because they grow up quickly!