Sick Baby Chicken

Question
My little chick looks sick. She won't eat or drink unless fed by a syringe. I've been feeding her some chicken feed in sugar water. Her siblings have already grown to be about twice as big as her, and look very healthy.

I check all of their bottoms, and their bin is very clean. I also clean their water and remove pen a couple of times a day. She sleeps most of the day, and her eyes look squinty.

She also completely drops her head down while she sleeps, unlike her siblings. (Her siblings do not pick on her by the way).

Answer
I wish I could tell you why this is happening. It sounds like you are doing a good job trying to strengthen her.

There is a general condition called: “failure to thrive”, which is a term used for chicks like this. This chick may have been weak from her start, possibly coming into this world with less than perfect internal functions.

If she can be saved you’ll need to help her digest her food better. Giving a little sugar is meant as a first aid measure for a chick that hasn’t been eating enough and blood sugar is low.

Constant sugar in food is of little value. Offering some fresh grated apple or chopped up grapes would be healthier on a regular basis.

There may be nothing more you can do for this chick that will help it survive and catch up to the others. Most feed stores carry a vitamin and electrolyte supplement designed for chicks after shipping or if there are signs of stress and failing to thrive.

In addition you could try some probiotics, which give good digestive bacteria enabling the chick to absorb more nutrients from its food. Sadly, when a chick has such a rough start in life, it may never be normal.

There may be internal problems that just can’t be fixed. Giving too much sugar is not good, but can help revive a tired looking chick. A pinch of salt in a ¼ cup of water may help reverse any dehydration, but this too, is just a first aid treatment, not meant for long term.

You haven’t said how old these chicks are or how long you’ve had them, but the longer this condition has existed in this chick, the worse its chances to grow normally and live a good healthy life.

Sometimes it’s just best to let them be, let nature take its course, knowing that extreme measures to save it may just lead to a prolonged unhealthy life. If this is a female chick, the organs that produce eggs may not develop normally and cause her problems.


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