Food Production

If You Raise Chicks You Need to Know These 6 Treatments for Common Chick Ailments

So maybe this year you decided to add chickens to your survival plan. They are a great source of food both their meat as well as their eggs. Can’t get much better than chicken. There are several things to keep in mind when you take the plunge into raising chickens.

One area you’ll need to study up on are ailments that chickens are prone to.

Here are the 6 treatments for the most common chick ailments:

1. Coccidiosis

Let’s start with the #1 killer of baby chicks. Coccidiosis is a disease of the intestinal tract caused by the microscopic parasites called coccidia. This condition is often spread by bringing infected hens into your flock, or by wild birds, it is then picked up by your chickens through contact with the infected feces or through drinking water with droppings in it. Since, coccidia multiplies best in warm, wet, dirty conditions, it is essential to keep your chick nursery/brooder clean and remove any wet or caked feed, as well as provide fresh water as needed.

Some symptoms to look out for are:

  • Diarrhea or bloody droppings
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Poor appetite and lethargy

If you catch this in time, isolate the sick chick and start feeding it medicated chick feed until symptoms disappear. As well, making a mash of equal parts chick feed and milk mixed a tiny amount of plain yogurt. This will stimulate the chick’s digestive tract by causing diarrhea. Diarrhea is a body’s natural way to begin flushing out undesirable pathogens. Follow the mash with probiotic powder in the feed to help rebuild the good bacteria. Water is essential here, so be sure to provide plenty of fresh water with electrolytes (see recipe below) to help the chick regain its strength.

Full disclosure: this condition has a very high mortality rate and once the symptoms start, it results in the chick to have an inability to absorb nutrients in food and the chick usually dies within a week; but there is always a chance, so don’t give up on the chick!

One way to help baby chicks build an immunity to coccidiosis is to add small clumps of grass with the dirt attached into the brooder. This early exposure to small amounts of pathogens that exist outside will help them slowly build their natural immunity. As well, when they are a few weeks old, add some fresh or dried oregano to their feeder. You can also add one crushed clove of garlic and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one gallon of the chicks water. These natural remedies will help the baby chicks develop the good bacteria they need and protect their fragile intestines.

2. Temperature

Baby chicks must have warm heat or else their fragile bodies could go into shock from the cold. We keep a heat lamp on them until they are 4 to 5 weeks old. Because the temperature needs to consistently stay around 90-95 degrees F (for the first week, then slowly decrease the temperature by 5 degrees each week), make sure you have athermometer in the nursery at all times. Conversely, they also need an area where they can cool off, if they get too hot. Therefore, I have another thermometer set up in a corner so I can monitor the temperature there, as well. Here are some signs to look for if your temperatures need to be adjusted in the brooder:

  • Seem dehydrated
  • Panting
  • Peeps shrilly
  • Sticky bottoms or pasty butt
  • Diarrhea
  • Chicks will pile up and smother each other near the heat source

If you see any of these signs, adjust the temperature accordingly. If they are huddled or climbing on one another, increase the temperature, or if they move away from their heat source, reduce the temperature a few degrees. As well, if you have a brooder lamp stand, it will help you better adjust your temperatures more quickly, but this is optional.

As well, try to minimize any drafts that the chicks may be experiencing. This can also cause chicks body temperature to plunge. One way to circumvent this is to create a draft shield out of cardboard to circle around your structure that is about 12 inches high. You can buy one already made, but I had my kids make one as a weekend project with some excess boxes we had lying around.

Picking can often be a sign of baby birds that are too hot, too crowded, or without fresh air. Occasionally, bright light also causes them to pick, or they pick for no apparent reason. To stop it, try putting in fresh green grass clippings several times a day and darken the room.

3. Dehydration

One of the most important issues when caring for livestock is to always provide them with fresh drinking water. Dehydration caused by stress, heat or rough transport can quickly create life-threatening issues with baby chicks.

signs of dehydration

  • panting
  • opening wings
  • paleness to face
  • labored breathing
  • diarrhea
  • listlessness or not reactive to touch
  • convulsions or twitching

If your chick is experiencing any of these issues, you must get fluids in them immediately. Making a homemade electrolyte drink for your birds may help to perk them up. Also consider moving their location. Perhaps, the area you have their brooder/nursery in has too much traffic or is drafty. As well, try and limit the handling of chicks for the first day or two so they can get accustomed to their new environment. Adding some electrolytes to their water may help them combat this issue too.

Homemade Electrolyte Recipe

  • 8 ounces warm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

I usually dilute this with more water for my chicks, but this recipe is great for all livestock. Use full strength on severely ailing adult chickens, otherwise mix into their drinking water as needed, a cup per gallon of water. Use this electrolyte drink for the first few days and then switch to regular drinking water.

As well, if your chick is only exhibiting the beginning signs of dehydration, try reviving your chick with a mixture of the electrolyte drink mixed with some chick starter. This will make a soupy mush that they can easily consume. Give your bird this special feed for 3 to 4 days to help pep them.

Click here for the rest of the list.

Source: Ready Nutrition

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