Why Do Baby Chickens Shiver?

Like us humans, baby chicks shiver for various reasons. If your baby chicks are shivering, most probably, they are cold. They could also be having a severe respiratory infection if they are shaking uncontrollably. Your baby chicks could also be shivering because of diseases.

Most baby chicks shiver because of diseases like Marek’s disease, which manifests in shivering. Such diseases will affect your baby chicks’ nervous system, making them shiver uncontrollably.

Why do Baby Chicks Shiver?

Baby chicks tend to shiver a lot, unlike adult chickens. It helps to know why your baby chicks are shivering and then fix the issue that could be making your tiny birds shiver. Check these probable reasons below why your baby chicks are shivering.

– Cold Temperature

Chicken keepers overlook cold temperatures while rearing their baby chicks. Cold temperature is the leading culprit in baby chicks shivering. Baby chicks handle warm temperatures better than cold weather. However, baby chicks can’t regulate their temperature in the winter.

No wonder baby chicks succumb to cold stress in winter. During winter, baby chicks are unable to conserve enough heat. The cold makes it impossible for baby chicks’ internal temperature to rise, making them start shivering. In this case, shivering is a result of the body’s response to a reduction in your chicks’ body temperature.

Shivering occurs in cold temperatures to help stimulate baby chicks’ muscles and further expend energy to help them generate heat. The cold temperature will not only cause shivering in your baby chicks, but it will further increase the chances of your chicks dying. Baby chicks with a pre-existing health condition or injury have a high probability of dying due to cold temperatures.

Chicken keepers can tell when their baby chicks are shivering because of a cold. If your chicks are emitting a loud sound while shivering, it is because they are cold. If your baby chicks are huddling together while shivering, it is because they are cold, and they want to stick with each other so that they can generate heat.

– Respiratory Problem

Baby chicks with respiratory problems have trouble breathing. If your baby chicks have a breathing problem due to respiratory disorder, they will shiver as they struggle to breathe. Shivering is more common in backyard baby chicks since these chicks have more exposure to cold and dust.

Cold and dust expose baby chicks to the risk of respiratory failure, which makes these birds struggle to breathe, consequently making them shiver as they struggle to breathe.

– Various Diseases

Baby chicks can shiver due to various diseases. Below are some of the conditions that increase the odds of your baby chicks shivering.

  • Botulism-This disease causes progressive tremors in baby chicks and older chickens. The progressive tremors finally cause body paralysis and eventual death. Baby chicks can contract botulism from eating feed or drinking contaminated water.
  • NewCastle Disease- This disease affects poultry birds, specifically baby chicks. This disease will make your baby chicks shiver because it affects their nervous system. Furthermore, the condition will make your baby chicks undergo bouts of abnormal shaking and paralysis. Baby chicks that contract this disease after coming into contact with droppings from affected birds shake a lot, even in the warm weather.
  • Epidemic Tremors-This is a viral disease that attacks baby chicks’ central nervous system, causing body tremors, imbalance, and paralysis. The viral infection spreads from one infected baby chick to the rest of the chicks in your flock. Although there isn’t a definite treatment for this viral disease, vaccinating your baby chicks against this disease can help the birds stop shivering due to epidemic tremors.

Can You Save a Shaking Chick?

Yes, you can save your shaking baby chicks by ensuring that your chicks don’t succumb to death due to consistent tremors. Just because your baby chicks are shaking doesn’t mean they will succumb to shivering.

How to Save a Shivering Chick?

Saving a shivering baby chick can be a straightforward process if you know what it takes to protect your shaking baby chick. Check these crucial insights below on how you can save your shivering baby chicks before they succumb to death.

  • Isolate the shivering baby chicks– You could be having several chicks in your flock that are shivering. Since you don’t understand why the chicks are shaking, it would help to isolate the shivering chicks from other chicks so that you can accord them special care to stop them from shivering. If the chicks are shivering due to a particular disease, it would be prudent to isolate such baby chicks from other baby chicks before they spread the disease that could make them shiver to other chicks.
  • Warm-up your baby chicks-Baby chicks mainly shiver because of cold. Chicken keepers can avoid incidents of their baby chicks shivering due to cold by providing them with warm, comfortable heaven. For example, you can provide warm bedding in your chicks’ brooder. Or, you can install some artificial lighting in your baby chicks’ coop to provide them with heat and lighting, especially in winter.
  • Give your baby chicks energy-rich foods– Energy-rich foods are essential for baby chicks not just because they provide the chicks with energy but also because they can help your shivering chicks get enough internal heat to keep their bodies warm. Some energy-giving food such as grounded corns can help your chicks generate enough internal heat to prevent them from shivering due to cold.
  • Have your chicks treated-Your baby chicks could not necessarily be shivering due to cold temperature. These chicks could be shivering due to diseases that affect their digestive and respiratory systems. Having your chicks checked by a vet can help establish some of the potential diseases that could be making your chicks shiver.


Shivering may seem a usual occurrence in baby chicks, mainly newly hatched baby chicks. However, shivering should be a serious concern for any large-scale or small-scale chicken keeper because it can pronounce death for their baby chicks.

Therefore, find out why your baby chicks are shivering. After that, come up with a solution that will prevent your baby chicks from shivering for you to end up with a healthy chicken flock.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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