Chick is very lethargic

by Cynthia
(Bridgewater,NJ)

Question
Whats happening: Recently my premature chick is very lethargic. It has yellow stuff coming from its butt. Also my chick’s heart only beats when it's peeping. WHAT IS GOING ON?

Answer
The yellow stuff sounds like diarrhea, or it could be some of the remaining yolk sack. Premature chicks may experience life threatening blood loss, especially if helped out of the egg shell, too quickly, or too soon.

I’m not sure how this chick hatched that you consider it premature, but the amazing development that occurs in an egg, if stopped prematurely, can leave you with a chick that is not able to survive out of the shell for long.

You haven’t said how long this little one has been out of the shell, or how premature you consider it to be. Its peeping is a good sign of its desire to survive.

It’s using its lungs and learning how to breathe. I would recommend keeping it warm (95-100 F) and offering a few drops of water through the day. If it becomes strong enough to stand, help it find food, possibly offer some soaked chick start and it might do OK. I hope so.

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Sick weak chick

by Simone Boucher
(Ausralia - Queensland)

Question
Sick weak chick: Not Sure of breed but white with black on wing! It’s about 6 weeks old has been the largest chick now has watery discharge from beak, patch on back where feathers are mattered! Looks now weak and eyes are not looking healthy sleeping a lot! Help

We also have 4 Australorps only two days old that are separated and are vaccinated from other two whites but in same room do I separate. HELP! I am worried.

Answer
I would check your brooder temperatures and make sure they are high enough for the ages of these chicks. With this respiratory issue you might want to put all the chicks on a medicated feed for a little while.

A mattered patch on its back could just be droppings from other chicks. I would give it a warm bath and see how the skin looks under this patch.

You are right to be concerned about spreading disease. I think medicated chick start may help all. Another option is to get this sick one to the vet and find out for sure with some testing.

Since this chick sleeps so much, it’s probably not eating or drinking enough. It would be good to separate it from all and frequently offer soaked feed and some electrolyte vitamin water. Most feed stores sell medicated chick start and a vitamin/electrolyte powder made for poultry. I hope this helps.

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Chick lays down a lot

Question
Chick lays down a lot: I have a White Plymouth Rock chick about 7 weeks old. She eats and drinks but she doesn't walk a lot.

She just sits down a lot and doesn't move as well as the other 4 different chicks she’s with. Why is she laying down a lot?

Answer
I can’t tell you why as it could be a number of things. When raising poultry it’s a good idea to have some electrolytes and vitamins on hand; most feed stores carry a product with both.

These can be your first line of defense against life threatening problems. This chick may have a fever, due to her immune system trying to fight infection, virus, or a low body temperature. You should be able to tell if the chick feels warmer or cooler than the others.

If it feels warmer, you can assume it has a fever. You might want to dissolve a baby aspirin in a spoonful of water and give a few drops. This can lower a fever and help the chick feel better.

Offer electrolyte/vitamin water, which may help restore alertness, activity and appetite. Continue to offer fluids (aspirin just once a day).

If the chick is able to swallow drops continue giving fluids and possibly offer some liquefied chick start. You could add a little apple sauce for sugar energy.

You didn’t mention the chick’s droppings. If there is any sign of blood or dark rusty color there could be intestinal disease.

A chick that’s eating and low energy may have diarrhea, causing nutrients & fluids to exit before absorbed. Giving a probiotic product can help balance digestive bacteria and restore normal digestion, absorption of nutrients and energy level.

Electrolytes can restore hydration. Giving over cooked rice with rice water may slow down diarrhea and help, too. You would need to get a sample of the droppings to the vet for a diagnosis.

You may need to treat all the chicks that have been together, if there are signs of a contagious disease in this one. Vitamin, mineral electrolyte deficiencies can mimic disease and are just as life threatening.

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