Chicken Coop Chatter©
Illness is a common occurrence in chicks. Even if you've done all the right things by giving them good starter feed, fresh water daily and have the temperature in the brooder set at optimum. Mortality rate can be high.
If you have ordered your chicks from a hatchery, they travel many miles under all types of conditions and are highly stressed by the time they arrive at your post office. Stress alone can cause high losses of the chicks. Typically chicks start dying in the first week. But losses can occur up to the first 3 weeks.
Bronchitis is a very common illness and will spread through the brooder or through a grown flock. Another is simply called respiratory disease again, this can spread rapidly. Possibly the most common Coccidiosis, which is a parasitic infection and will cause *pasty butt*. It is of great importance that you keep the brooders and environment clean. Be watching especially for *pasty butt*, and clean the chick bottoms with clean, warm water and soft cloth. Generally a vinegar water solution will help prevent pasty butt which can be caused by stress or illness.
The build up of urine and droppings can cause a number of issues and cause high mortality from the ammonia emitting from their bedding and bacteria. In addition, make sure you and your children always wash after handling chicks or chickens, so you are not inadvertently spreading some illness. Having anti-bacterial hand wipes near the brooders will be a reminder to wash after handling. And be sure if you have more than one brooder or flock of chickens to wash before tending from one brooder/flock to another to prevent passing pathogens from one area to another. Along with keeping the chick environment clean and sterilized, adding 1 teaspoon of "Pure" Apple Cider Vinegar to a gallon of water, helps to ward off infections and help with the delicate digestive track of chicks.
You can use medicated feed, but whatever you do feed them, make sure it is of high quality to give them a good start in life. One note: Make sure you are using "pure" apple Cider vinegar. I've noticed there is a "flavored" apple cider vinegar on the market now and that is not the same as "pure".
Another simple "treat" for chicks or grown chickens is plain yogurt. Use the type that says "active" probiotics or "active bacteria". The "good" bacteria is essential to chicks, chickens and for that matter you to aid in digestion. Let me warn you, chicks can make a mess while eating yogurt, so a low dish that can't be tipped over may be the easiest if you are feeding them yogurt. You can make your own yogurt and you can in fact make your own apple cider vinegar which are topics you'll find in the sidebar on this page. Be sure also to check out the article on making your own electrolytes, which are used for stress and illness. And check the article on preparing a first aid kit so you will have the essential tools for treating all types of illness, wounds and injuries.
There are volumes of information on chicken illnesses and diseases so it would be a benefit for you to gather information and treatments so you are armed with ways of treating any illness that may crop up. Good handling, cleaning and environmental practices are essential. Watching new chicks hatch and entertain you with silly antics is a lot of fun, but illnesses are a reality that you need to be aware of. Rarely will their be a serious disease in your backyard flock, but being aware of them gives you an opportunity to treat quickly to help reduce the possibility of spreading through your entire brooder or flock.
Removing the affected chicks or chickens from the main brood or flock and tending to them separately can help prevent infecting the entire group, but generally if one is affected the entire flock will be and all will need to be treated at the same time.
A further note: If an illness strikes, and the surviving chicks recover, they can be carriers even if they no longer show symptoms. Some of the future offspring can also be affected. Always order your chicks and/or hatching eggs from reputable sources and healthy stock. Even that cannot assure that you won't have some type of outbreak in your brooders or coops.
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