Chick Can't Walk or Stand

by Wvmomoffive
(Rural WV)

Question:
Chick Can't Walk or Stand: I have 4 roosters (2 reds, 1 black sex link, 1 araucana mix) & 6 hens, 2 red sex link, 1 rock barred, 3 I don't know, had these for 18 months.

One of the red hens hatched a black chick, it is about 2 mo old. added 8 peeps I got for $1 each at a feed store, they are about 2 months old.

Just added 8 ameraucana peeps, they are about a month old. feed them cracked corn & crumble, they have a fenced yard about 20' x 15'.

(Electric fence outside...lots of wild life in wv) one of the ameraucana peeps seemed to not be right. She couldn't walk & sat with fluffed feathers. One morning just couldn't find her.

I figure she got out or died. Now, the black hen peep cannot walk, run or stand. She falls over. What the heck is going on?

Do I need to get him away from the rest of my flock? Is it contagious or treatable? My husband already hates me having chickens so spending money to fix this is out.

Answer:
Sounds like you are going all out here! I would stop feeding cracked corn, especially to chicks. The nutritional value is poor, it's hard to digest.

Generally their prepared feed contains more corn flour and finely ground corn than anything else. Other than an occasional treat (chickens love corn!) adding corn is throwing off the scientific nutrient balance of their feed.

I suspect that over crowding is an issue, and will continue to be as all these chicks grow. Over crowding is very stressful for chickens and sadly the youngest are most at risk.

Stress leads to illness and disease. Always remove the sick from the flock. They have become a breeding ground for a potential threat to the rest of the flock, they are at risk of injury and being killed by other chickens in the group.

I'm questioning the number of roosters you have for a small flock. Generally you want one rooster per 12 hens.



The boys will likely become more and more possessive over the flock as they mature and this leads to a stressful life for the whole flock and especially the lower ranked roosters.

If you have just mixed all these ages together in one coop and communal pen you could be asking for trouble.

10 square feet per adult might seem like a lot, but chickens are territorial and competitive. Your pen would be an OK size for 3 adults that never get out to free range.

Young chicks in a flock without a mother are the lowest in rank. But any chicks will probably be bullied by adults and juveniles.

They will have to compete for food and space and may have to spend valuable time and energy running and hiding and growing new feathers to replace the ones plucked out by other chickens, rather than peacefully eating, resting, growing and exercising.

The smallest are "easy pickin's" and there is a reason flock structure is called "pecking order". Pecking order is normal in any chicken group from day old chicks to the fully mature hens and roosters.

The proper number of chickens for the area you have, or expansion, good separation between chicks and chickens of different age/size, added to good nutrition, will make for a much healthier and enjoyable chicken experience.

Just as in nature, over crowding generally leads to dwindling numbers. Competition for food and stress levels lead to poor immune systems, often leaving animals with no defense against environmental challenges and disease.

Chickens respond to over crowding by picking on the weaker and smaller flock members. In nature these advances would work to drive weaker ones away from the main flock, making living conditions more favorable for the highest ranking members.

In a confined area the weak cannot leave and are often subject to constant harassment.

If you have chickens for their wonderful eggs, it will be in their best interest and yours, to attain a good balanced life for all and not overextend yourself our your resources.

Click here to post comments

Return to Chicken Walking and Not Walking Questions.