Why do Baby Chickens Die After Hatching?
Typically, hens lay many eggs and hatch them at once to create higher chances of producing more chicks. Again, with more chicks hatched, there is a higher chance of survival. This should tell you that it is normal to lose at least 5% of your entire clutch while the rest grows to become adult chickens.
Mostly, chicks die due to environmental factors. Extreme hot or cold weather conditions are some of the causes of the higher mortality rates in baby chickens. Others include injuries, accidents, and numerous poultry diseases. Read on to find out why your baby chicks may die after they are hatched.
7 Reasons Baby Chickens Die After Hatching
Other reasons that explain why baby chicks die after hatching are as follows:
1. Cold Temperature
Temperature is essential to keep your newly-hatched chicks healthy and active. However, the high temperature can negatively impact your little birds’ health. The cold temperatures can interfere with their health as well.
Extreme cold temperatures can cause death among your chicks in just a few hours. Bear in mind that chickens and all other birds are warm-blooded animals. In this regard, the most appropriate temperature range for your chicks should be 90 °F to 95 °F, especially during their first week after hatching. This temperature range is highly recommended because baby chicks have fewer feathers.
When subjected to extreme cold conditions in their surroundings baby chicks can become inactive. They can also huddle together in a bid to keep themselves warm. Long hours of exposure to cold temperatures can ultimately cause death to the weaker chicks. For that reason, make sure to adjust the temperature in their brooder.
Water is one of the basic requirements for your farm animals including baby chicks. Your birds need water to keep themselves hydrated and cool in hot weather conditions. They also need water to help in their digestion of food. Therefore, you must provide your little birds with enough clean, fresh water daily.
Lack of water can cause dehydration among your chicks. This can lead to death if you don’t drastic measures to provide water at the right time. As a matter of fact, dehydration is considered one of the major causes of death in newly hatched chicks.
So, how do you tell that your baby chicks are dehydrated? In most cases, dehydrated chicks stay quiet or still a little longer than usual. They can also ruffle their feathers, open and close their wings, or pant throughout.
Once you notice these changes in your little birds, you should take them to a cool, dry place immediately. At the same time, you should provide them with cold fresh water to help them hydrate. All these reasons should compel you to ensure that your little birds have access to a reliable source of water, particularly during the hot summer months.
3. Lack of Ventilation
Newly-hatched baby chicks need enough ventilation to keep themselves comfortable all the time. Their brooder should be located in a place where they can easily access fresh air.
Lack of ventilation around your baby chicks’ living space can cause death. Also, a poorly ventilated environment around the baby chicks may cause death through suffocation. Such places are usually confined, leading to suffocation.
The lack of ventilation affects the weaker baby chicks mostly. This is attributed to the fact that weaker baby chicks cannot withstand conditions in confined spaces with fewer or no ventilation facilities.
As a chicken keeper, you can prevent these tragic incidents among your baby chicks by keeping them in well-ventilated spaces. Most significantly, ensure that each baby chick has access to enough oxygen and space.
4. Incubator Problem
Incubators are designed to primarily provide conducive conditions for your baby chicks after they are hatched. However, problems in this poultry facility can contribute to high numbers of deaths in your baby chicks.
One of the problems that can make things go wrong in an incubator is improper incubator temperature. As you may know, the temperature is very crucial when it comes to the well-being of your baby chicks.
Higher temperatures than the normal incubator temperature can cause death in your little birds. Likewise, extremely low temperatures in the incubator can negatively impact the survival of your baby chicks. In this sense, make sure to constantly check the thermometer for accuracy. Also, use the thermometer to set and maintain the recommended temperature in the incubator.
Power failure is the second problem that can make the environment in the incubator unfriendly for your newly-hatched chickens. If power fails, the incubator will not work optimally. This failure can drastically change the conditions of your incubator.
When this happens, your chicks will be exposed to the most severe conditions inside the incubator. Consequently, the weak and the sickling chicks will not withstand such a hostile environment for too long.
If no help comes their way on time, these little birds will most likely die. You can solve this problem by opening the incubator machine until the power comes back or power is restored.
Poor ventilation is yet another issue that can arise if the incubator is not working properly. In this case, poor ventilation will cause a lack of oxygen and an insufficient amount of fresh air inside the incubator.
These conditions will subject your chickens to suffocation and painful death. Make sure to provide proper ventilation and air exchange in and out of the incubator to maintain the right environment for your baby chicks.
Overheating is an additional problem that your baby chicks can encounter while in the incubator. When combined with fluctuating levels of humidity, overheating can cause death to some chicks. Always check relative humidity and hatcher temperature to ensure that the incubator environment is right for your newly-hatched baby chickens.
5. Bacterial Infection
Baby chicks are at risk of different types of infections associated with chickens. Bacterial infection is one of them. This type of infection can be life-threatening to your baby chicks.
An example of infection caused by bacteria is the Mushy Chick Disease. This infection affects the yolk and it is commonly referred to as yolk sac infection. It is caused mainly by an unsanitary hatching environment for the nesting boxes.
Mushy Chick Disease happens when bacteria gets into the chick’s body via the naval. Its common signs and symptoms include wounds around the chick’s navel region and swelling of the navel. Foul smell, depression, lethargy, and anorexia are additional symptoms of Mushy Chick Disease.
If you discover that your baby chicks have a bacterial infection, make sure to isolate them from the rest. Place the affected baby chicks in a warm, well-ventilated place before consulting your local veterinarian for treatment.
6. Physical Injury
Physical injury can cause death to your newly hatched chicks. Mostly these injuries come in the form of trauma due to overcrowding. Most baby chicks are usually trampled to death by other chickens, especially when left in an overcrowded setup.
In addition to that, overcrowding can lead to the drowning of baby chicks in waterers and water dishes while they scramble to drink. To avoid this problem, ensure that your chicks use shallow containers or raised waterers.
Conflicts among your flock could also lead to injuries among the baby chicks. Other chickens can also turn to younger ones and start to peck at them. In extreme cases, the aggressive chickens can become cannibals and inflict injuries on the baby chicks. Provide your flock of backyard chickens with enough food and water to prevent cases of cannibalism.
7. Genetic Problem
The genetic problem among hatchlings and young chickens causes deformities. Genetic problems come about when you expose incubating eggs to an excess of carbon dioxide and harmful fumes.
These harmful compounds increase the number of deformed baby chicks to about 90% or even more. Due to these deformities, chicks cannot keep up with their surroundings. Many of them end up dying as soon as they are hatched.
Keep all the eggs away from dangerous compounds and fumes before and during the hatching period to prevent genetic problems among your baby chicks.
Tips to Keep Baby Chickens Alive
You need to know how to handle your baby chicks before your first batch arrives. These tips will help keep them alive as they grow:
- Prepare enough living space for your baby chickens
- Maintain the correct temperature around them all the time
- Keep them away from predators
- Provide them a good shelter
- Install a source of heat in their brooder to keep them warm
- Provide plenty of absorbent bedding material to make them comfortable
- Place a netting material over your baby chickens’ living environment to prevent them from flying away
- Give them a nutritionally balanced diet and fresh, clean water
- Seek vet services to monitor their health
Healthy and happy baby chicks are usually lively and active. They also become vocal as they interact with one another. Your baby chicks can only behave this way when they are in a comfortable place with all the requirements to keep them alive.
If you fail to prevent injuries, infections, and overcrowding, your little birds will die shortly after hatching. You can easily keep them alive by strictly following good hygiene practices throughout.