Newbies to raising chickens and need some guidance!

dabx2_95959March 25, 2009

Hello! We live at 3500 feet in Northern California and have an enclosed coop, with warming light 18" above the our birds that keeps the temp at 95 degrees right under the light and cooler off to the sides. Last Friday we brought home 6 Ameracauna chicks, a Silver Seabright Bantie, 2 Polish chicks and a couple of others (that we honestly do not know what they are). At 10 weeks old, the Ameracaunas are a little older than all the others, but still contained in the same big metal tub and under the heat lamp. We knew it was possible to lose some of the chicks, but we've lost 3 (all different breeds)in the past 2 days. The feed store where we got them said that 1 out of 10 don't handle the stress of the move and will die. On top of this, 2 of our Ameracaunas have a "weepy" eye. I have some antibiotic eye ointment from the vet, Terrmycin (?) and am wondering if I could use this or if you all have other suggestions.

Between the 3 chicks and the eye thing, I am wondering if we purchased some unhealthy birds or if this is all normal stuff. If we have more "problems", I'm thinking we won't go back to that particular feed store or purchase from the particular hatchery they came from. Am I being unreasonable?

Also, one of the little ones had poop stuck to it's rear, and we used a baby wipe to try to get it off. It did come off, but so did the feathers that were stuck in the poop -- and now his little butt is bare and tender. Can I put Neosporin on it?

Sorry for the length and thanks in advance for your great words of wisdom. My kids are freaking out ......

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Whats the temp where they are? It should be at 95 as hatched and dropped about 5 degrees per week. Sounds like they need more heat?? Keep an eye on the sebright, they are one breed that doesnt take well to the cold. Soften that poop ball with warm water, try to snip off, never just tug at it, ity could rip the skin.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 12:13PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Congrats on the new chickens! :) You're going to love having chickens, once you get past this first hurdle.

Chickens stressed from being either shipped or rehomed can benefit from a few days of warmth and quiet (away from noise, barking dogs, cats & overactivekids), and by giving them unflavored Pedialyte (find it at the grocery store, in the baby aisle) to drink for the first couple of days. Pedialyte will give them a needed electrolyte boost. Other things that can help are offering various goodies such as live mealworms or crickets (at the fishing bait store or pet store, they are kept refrigerated so ask at the counter for them) to eat--chickens LOVE live mealworms. :) Cooked ground beef, scrambled eggs, diced grapes, raw corn on the cob and cooked noodles are also great and a great way of offering entertainment and nutrition for the chicks. It also helps cement you and your family as the 'good guys' who love and care for them, in the chicks' eyes.

How old are the chicks? Not the Americaunas, you said they were about 10 weeks old--the others. Are they all feathered out? I normally keep my newly hatched chicks in the house in a brooder box, under a heat lamp, for 8 weeks, gradually reducing the amount of heat (turning off the heat lamp during the day once they are all feathered out, then gradually at night, too) and at the age of 6 weeks on, giving them limited outdoor time in an enclosed pen during the warm part of the day and bringing them back in at night. This gets them used to being outside. If yours came straight from being indoors and protected at all times to outdoors full-time, that could be your problem.

Also, you MUST protect them from drafts. Drafts can kill young chickens, especially in colder climates. Heck, drafts can even kill adult birds in the right conditions.

Like fancifowl said, either soften stuck-on poop with warm water and gently wipe away and/or snip it off carefully. I do a combination of both--soak and wipe away the loose stuff, then trim off the poopy feathers. Chicks have very tender skin (as you now know). If you do choose to put Neosporin on the skin, use a Q-tip to place it and apply VERY sparingly--you don't want to glop it on or overly soil the feathers, as the chick may get chilled. The chicks' big problem is going to be that the other chicks are going to peck at it's bare spot, Neosporin or no. You may end up having to isolate the chick. If you do, I'd do it in such a way that it can still see and hear it's flockmates--chickens are flock animals and do NOT like to be alone. You and the kids spending more time with it will help ease it's anxiety.

As for the weeping eye thing, you can gently clean it with a bit of warm water on a washrag--it could be a slight injury or something in it's eye that caused it. Then add the eye ointment--sparingly, don't foul the feathers--IF it is OK to use in birds (call the vet & ask if you aren't sure). Keep an eye on the chick and watch to see if it is a simple eye problem or if it is a respiratory problem--look for sneezing and watery discharge from it's nares (nostrils) and for other signs of illness--sitting around fluffed up, listlessness, losing weight, strange poops, etc.

I've got a chicken info site here, it may help:

If you post pics of the chicks here, we might be able to help you ID the mystery chicks! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 1:02PM
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Fancifowl and Velvet, thank you for your great words of wisdom!

Fancifowl, the temp is 95 degrees, with room for them to get out from under the heat lamp if it's too warm -- but not too far for them to get terribly cold. We did lose the Sebright.

Velvet, thanks for all the info. I did visit your website last week before we got all of our chicks, you sure do have lots of info on it! To answer your question on the ages, all the other chicks are much younger than the Americuanas -- they have not started to feather out.

I've relocated 2 of the Americauna's to my office and have them under a lamp as well. They seem to be the most sickly and do have the other signs of illness that you mentioned -- but they are hanging in there! My husband went back to the feed store today and they said we needed to put "Sulmet" (Sufamethazine Sodium 12.5%) in the water. We are going to give this a try.

I'll get good pictures of the chicks and post over the weekend.

Thanks again!!!!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 11:56PM
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texas.transplant(8b TX)

I love this forum. Where else can you read about how to remove a "poop ball" from a chicken's rear! Seriously, I have a chicken with this problem so I'll glean from your advice to dabx2. That poop ball is actually the only way I am able to recognize her!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 12:19PM
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Oh the poor little thing! I so want peeps this spring!
I love this forum too! You can ask anything at all farm related and get good answers here.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 5:01PM
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