Newborn chicken won’t eat

Question
Newborn chicken won’t eat: My newborn chicken of 3 days does not eat or stand. I’m raising it by myself. The hen does not want it what can I do?

Answer
The chick must be kept warm or it won’t eat. 95 F the first week and decreasing heat 5 – 10 degrees per week, if the chick can tolerate it.

Possibly there was something wrong with it at hatching and the mother rejected it knowing it wouldn’t survive. Keeping it warm, offering drops of water or some warm fruit juice, may revive it.

Just hope for the best. Animals generally have a good mothering instinct. When they don’t want a baby, there is usually a reason.

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Chick won't move and chirps a lot

by Andy
(San Mateo, CA)

Question
Chick won't move and chirps a lot: My 3-week-old chicken was doing fine, running all over the place.

But for the last 36 hours, it just stands in one place with its neck retracted, sort of in a puffed up ball and it continuously chirps. I don't think it has stopped chirping in the past 36 hours.

In the past if you put your hand in to pick it up, it would scatter. Now it just stands there still, you can reach in and pick it up. It seems to be eating and drinking. We have one other chick with it and it is always trying to huddle near it.

We haven't changed the heat source since we've had them, so I don't think its cold. The other one we have seems fine and runs around like normal.

Answer
Chirping all the time usually means they’re too cold. Make sure your brooder temperature is correct.

It’s good to start between 95 & 100 F for the first week, decreasing temperature 5 – 10 degrees per week, if the chicks are comfortable. It would be good to treat all the chicks with Chick Save or similar vitamin supplement.

If the vitamins don’t help the sick one you may need antibiotics.

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Sick baby frizle chick

by Rhonda

Question
Sick baby frizle chick: I have a baby Frizzle chick who is probably about a week old. When I checked on her this morning she was very lethargic and not opening her eyes.

She felt very cold. I put some water by her beak she started to chirp. I didn't leave a heat lamp on her and the others all night (I have 3 other baby frizzles which are doing fine) I turn the heat lamp on in the day for them.

I cover them at night. She was eating and drinking yesterday. Is it possible she got too cold? I’m keeping her warm with a heating pad on very low and making sure to give her water. She chirps a little when moved and is breathing a little slow still.

Answer
It’s definitely too cold. A mother hen’s body is over 100 F. Chicks need a heat source to replace their mother, at least 95 F, the first week 24 hours a day.

You may reduce the temperature 5 – 10 degrees per week, if they can tolerate it. A lot has to do with the ambient room temperature.

When chicks get too cold their bodies shut down. Hopefully she will recover and the others will be OK.

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My 4 week old chick is sick

Question
My 4 week old chick is sick. One day it is fully energetic (running around and standing up). The next day it is puffed out and won't walk (falling on the floor when placed on its feet).

It refuses to eat or drink. It closes its eyes and falls asleep,repeating this behavior all throughout the day.

Answer
My daughter brought home a baby chick one day that she had rescued. Since I had never owned chickens I was clueless about how to take care of a baby chick.

On about day 3 Sonny (the rescued baby chick) started to act like your baby chick. He would be fine after he ate (if I could get food down him) but then he would become lethargic, fall asleep, etc.

After a little research I discovered that baby chicks need a lot of warmth. I immediately put Sonny under a heat lamp and after about an hour he immediately began to perk up.

Baby chicks need to be exposed to 95 degree temperatures for the first 4 weeks of their life 24 hours a day. Then you can begin to reduce the heat by 5 degrees every week until the baby chick has matured somewhat.

For the heat you can use a heat lamp or high wattage bulb suspended over their cage or sleeping area. For more info please see our page regarding

baby chicks.

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Sick birds

by Jenna

Question
Sick birds: We just got our new (bantams) chicks from the hatchery. So far two have died. They kept falling backwards, and panting for air.

They couldn’t stand. But now one of my healthy chicks is sleeping with its head down on the newspaper. Is this normal for a mottled Cochin chick to do? She is the smallest of the bunch. What should I do?

I don’t want to lose another one of my chicks! Also if you could help me identify what happened with my first two chicks that would really help!

Answer
Panting sounds like they are too hot. When setting up a brooder, it’s important that the temperature is correct at the level of the chicks.

You should have a brooder thermometer to check on the heat frequently. 95-100 degrees F is good for the first week and decreasing the temperature 5 – 10 degrees each week after, if tolerated.

When chicks aren’t warm enough they usually begin to complain with loud cheeping. Then they become weak, not eating or drinking. Chicks that can’t get far enough from the heat source, to regulate their own body temperature, may over heat and die from heat stroke.

It’s good to heat one end of the brooder so chicks can get as close as they need to and get away from the heat to cool off. Giving a chick saver product may help restore health. The color and breed of the chicks wouldn’t change what is normal chick behavior.

It’s normal for chicks to lie down and rest through the day, but not all day. When they are full after eating and drinking enough, they will usually sleep for a while.

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Chick tucking head

by Freda
(Nashville, TN)

Question
The 3 wk. old female isolated herself from her 25 housemates. She sits or stands with her head tucked under and to the side with neck on the ground.

Not eating. Only drinks if I give her sweetened water from a dropper. Sometimes sticks her head so far back underneath that she flips over.

We brought her in the house in a box with food and water to keep her warmer. What could be wrong? Our first try raising hens.

Answer
She is most likely cold and feels poorly. She may have a fever. The sugar water is good, but needs to be followed up with some soaked chick start, maybe a little apple sauce or fresh grated apple mixed in and some live culture yogurt or probiotic.

A pinch of salt in the sugar water may help restore electrolyte balance in her body, which is vital for communication between brain and the rest of her body and her major organ functions. I would highly recommend you get hold of a chick vitamin/electrolyte powder.

Most feed stores sell it to help with the stress of shipping. Most chicks ship well, but there will always be a strongest and a weakest one, especially in a group of that size.

This little one may be a warning that the rest are at risk, so dosing all with vitamin/electrolyte, according to the directions would be wise. Just keeping her in a box in the house isn’t warm enough, unless you keep the house over 100 degrees.

I like to use a clip on work light with the metal shade and a screw-in lower watt fluorescent bulb. It should feel warm to the touch, not hot.

The chicks can get as close as they want and not get burned and most bulbs of this type are near full-spectrum and may help synthesize vitamin D3 which is an immune system energizer.

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My chick seems sick

Question
My chick seems sick: About two days ago, I got six Barred Plymouth Rock chicks and six Golden Comets (all a day old, hens).

Yesterday, one of the Barred Rocks seemed to be acting lethargic- she won't eat and I haven't seen her drink. She sleeps all the time and breathes heavily- I've even seen her panting. She doesn't struggle when I pick her up, though she'll stand up when I put her down.

None of the others seem to be having any problems, though I have found some runny droppings (possibly brought about by drinking lots of water because of a too-warm heat lamp). Is she just too warm, or is there something wrong?

Answer
It would be unusual for just one chick to be too warm, and the temperature not affect the rest negatively.

Runny droppings can be caused by excessive water drinking, but could be a sign of intestinal disorders. If this chick hasn’t been eating or drinking normally, it cannot survive.

Chicks grow and develop so much in their first weeks of life that any nutritional deficiency can mean they won’t make it to adulthood, or may be unhealthy all their lives.

There is a great product at most feed stores called: Chick Save. It’s made for young chicks having a rough start and may help this one.

You will need to support it nutritionally, offering food and water often, until it eats and drinks well on its own. Soaking feed in the Chick Save for a few days may help.

If the diarrhea doesn’t clear up, this chick might benefit from probiotics and may need an antibiotic. On the chance this chick has something contagious, you may want to separate it from the others.

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Chicken acts cold

by Donna
(Cullman, Alabama)

Question
It has turned a little cold outside (about upper 60's in the day time). My chicken acts cold, she went into what seemed like a very deep sleep in the day time and was unresponsive.

We put her under a heat lamp and she recovered and started eating and drinking. We put her back outside two days later and the same thing happened.

We put her under the heat lamp again and she recovered again. She stills seems to sleep a lot but she is in a cage. She sleeps standing up. Nothing else seems wrong except for a watery stool.

Answer
Has the hen been wormed lately? Birds that have worms or coccidiosis can have watery or bloody droppings.

They can also become cold. I would advise you to keep her someplace warm and away from the rest of the flock. The heat lamp has obviously been working wonders for her.

Get a good wormer and treat her as well as the rest of the flock for both worms and coccidiosis. You can also feed her extra protein such as scrambled eggs to keep her strength up.

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