Sick 6 week chick

Question

Sick 6 week chick: I have a 6 week old White Leghorn, who has become very lethargic, not very steady and seems to be cheeping constantly.

I’m completely new to this and very worried, so any help will be much appreciated.

Answer
The constant cheeping is the chick trying to communicate its distress. The most important element in raising chicks is adequate heat. A mother hen is available 24/7 to her chicks with a body temperature over 100 F.

Chicks cannot remain healthy after hatching unless they are able to maintain the correct body temperature. Most brooders are set up to mimic life with a hen.

The chicks are able to move about, eat, drink and get exercise, but return close to the heat source to warm up as needed. Until fully feathered chicks cannot hold in enough heat to stay warm.

For healthy chicks, even once feathered, they need to be able to warm up when they feel the need. A mother hen will cover her chicks with her wings and feathers until they can roost and stay warm on their own.

When raising young chickens, without a hen, I like to provide a heat lamp until I see they never use it. Putting chicks out in a coop without a heat source can be life threatening for them with the fluctuating temperatures of spring, especially at night.

The next important element is nutrition, including a good quality chick start, clean water and vegetation, including some fruit and dark leafy greens.

I avoid medicated chick start as giving unnecessary antibiotics can cause digestive problems and antibiotic resistant bacteria. Medicated chick start can be helpful if there are signs of disease.

To help this chick recover you can provide a vitamin/electrolyte product available at most feed stores. Some are designed specifically for young chicks in distress.

Helping the chick warm up can improve appetite, digestion, strength and alertness. Giving a probiotic or some live culture yogurt can help restore good digestion.

There is always the possibility of disease, which more easily sets in if heat and nutrition are inadequate. The constant cheeping is a good sign that this chick hasn’t given up, but you must act quickly before it’s too late for it to recover.

Sometimes vitamins are adequate to restore health. Hope this helps.

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