New Chicks Having Problems

by Diane

I have a chick that hatched 5 days ago. He appears quite healthy, eats/drinks/poops like he should . However he is not able to stand or walk without leaning on the side of the brooder box. He always leans to the right. Does not appear to be star gazing or twisting his neck.

I am currently giving him non-medicated food, Poli Vi Sol, and just started today giving B Vitamin.

2 of his hatch mates also had issues. 1 had a slipped tendon which I was able to replace and is now walking fine. The other had the exact symptoms as this one but died the first night (I think he was not able to move out from under the brooder light and over heated; I did not realize that there was a problem until the chick appeared too hot and then it was too late).

I am just wondering if there is anything that can be done to help this chick that I am not already doing? Or if this is a neurological problem or muscular dystrophy in which case there really is not a way to help. I will consider culling the chick if necessary but really want to do all I can to help save him. Our chickens are "pets" not breeding stock. They are cared for very well but do want to make sure that he has a good quality of life and I am not prolonging the inevitable.

Thank you!

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New Chicks Having Problems
by: sharon

Hi Diane,

Sorry to hear these little guys are having so much trouble. You gave us a lot of good information and it sounds like you know what you're doing.

My first thought, after reading yours, is this could be a genetic issue. 3 chicks in one hatch is something more than just a fluke. You didn't say where you got the hatching eggs, or if you own the parents. I'm also curious about the breed or breeds of the parent birds.

I've raised different kinds of birds and seen issues arise if the birds became inbred (mother & father too closely related). One of the most common problems was in the legs and feet.

Calcium deficiency in female birds of any type can lead to their chicks developing in the shell without enough calcium. This can lead to soft bones, weak muscles, leg, balance, and walking problems. If that is the problem, supplementing the chicks with calcium might help strengthen bones and muscles.

I've noticed also that if I help chicks hatch from their eggs, it seems to take them longer to stand. From watching chicks hatch by themselves, I've noticed an incredible scene of chicks having to use their little brains and every part of their body to get out of that shell.

I've come to believe that the natural process of chicks emerging from the shell is a vital part of their development. If I help chicks hatch, I only make sure they can breathe by creating a little hole near their beak. I watch that the membrane inside the shell doesn't dry out during the process. They need to use every part of their body to hatch and this seems to create good brain/body coordination.

Chicks unable to hatch on their own might be unable to ever function well, in spite of what can look like a very successful incubation. By taking extreme measures to rescue a little one, we might end up providing intensive care for the rest of its life.

In nature the strong survive. A wild mother hen has to leave behind any weak chicks unable to follow her soon after hatching. I think having such trouble on day 5 means something serious is wrong and the chick's chances are low of ever being normal.

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