How to Prevent Chicks From Dying?
Unlike adult chickens, chicks are pretty fragile, particularly in the first couple of weeks after hatching. No wonder chicks have a high mortality rate compared to their adult counterparts. Baby chicks die for various reasons, such as nutritional deficiency, genetic disposition, and poor management.
Irrespective of what makes your chicks die, you can easily prevent your birds from dying by using the appropriate techniques.
Buy Chicks from Trusted Hatcheries
Chicken keepers must be wary of where they get their chicks. Buying poor quality, unhealthy chicks from untrusted hatcheries can be risky since you will end up with an extremely high mortality rate. Most of the health conditions that affect chicks result from a background with a poor genetic disposition.
Egg hatcheries aren’t equal. Some are reputable, while others aren’t reputable. Untrusted hatcheries have poor parent stocks. These hatcheries lure innocent chicken keepers into buying their poor-quality chicks at throwaway prices to generate profit. Avoid being a victim of such a bad practice by knowing the reputation of the hatchery you intend to purchase your baby chicks.
Furthermore, check the health condition of every chick you are buying from the hatchery before you take the chicks home.
Keep Chicks at Right Temperature
Temperature fluctuations can kill baby chicks, particularly at the onset of their life. Exposing your chicks to extremely cold temperatures can be disastrous to your future flock, considering baby chicks don’t have fully-grown feathers as opposed to adult chickens. The ideal temperature for newly hatched baby chicks should be at least 95°F. Maintaining this temperature can be daunting, especially during extremely cold months in winter.
Luckily, a quality heat lamp or a light bulb can warm up your chicks until they grow feathers. Get a brooder to keep your fragile baby chicks at room temperature. Clean the brooder to rid it of parasites such as mites and lice, which can kill your young fowls. Alternatively, you can redesign your cage to ensure your chicks aren’t susceptible to cold conditions.
Extreme hot temperatures in summer can kill your baby chicks in their infancy. Hot temperatures can dehydrate the chicks, making them succumb to dehydration. Ensure the brooder provides adequate airflow. If you are keeping your newly hatched baby chicks in a cage, you can open all the roof vents and windows to allow the hot air in the cage to escape while letting in cool air at the same time.
Try installing a fan in the enclosure during hot weather to boost air circulation in the cage. Place misters outside the chicken coop to spray the roof with water to facilitate evaporative cooling in the enclosure.
Wash Feeding Dishes Daily
It is crucial to clean the feeding dishes before placing fresh feed for the chicks to eat. The microscopic residue from chick feed leftovers can harbor bacteria such as salmonella, which can quickly kill your baby chicks. Wash the feeding dishes with a mild soap before you put fresh food to prevent a bacterial buildup in the feeding dishes.
Rinse the feeding dishes thoroughly with clean water before adding the feed. Rinsing the dishes is imperative since it prevents you from contaminating the fresh chick feed with bacteria and other harmful pathogens that can kill your young fowls.
Apart from cleaning the feeding dishes, always clean water drinkers. Furthermore, replace the water in the drinkers with fresh water. Avoid putting chlorinated water into the drinkers since chlorine is toxic to chicks. Rinse the water drinkers properly lest you re-contaminate the freshwater with detergents or soaps.
Clean the Enclosure Regularly
Salmonella thrives in dirty chicken enclosures. This bacteria is to blame for the high mortality rate in baby chicks. Salmonella thrives in rotting chicken droppings and leftover chick feed. Filthy chicken enclosures also harbor parasites that make your chicks prone to early death.
Clean the enclosure regularly, at least weekly, to discard feed leftovers and eliminate parasites that can infect the baby chicks with deadly diseases.
Here are some tips to help you clean your chicken enclosure to stop your chicks from dying.
- Sweep the enclosure –Put the baby chicks in a separate enclosure and then sweep the enclosure to remove all the droppings, feathers, and old bedding materials in the enclosure. Scrape out the chicks’ droppings while sweeping the enclosure.
- Spray the enclosure with water-Use a hosepipe to spray water after sweeping out all the dirt, feathers, droppings, and debris. Spraying water will help remove debris and dirt leftovers from the enclosure. You may need to spray the enclosure consistently if there is still stubborn debris and dirt leftovers after spraying the enclosure with water once.
- Disinfect the enclosure –Disinfect the enclosure with a mild cleaning agent such as vinegar. Disinfecting is paramount for getting rid of parasites that may attack your chicks once you put them back into the enclosure.
- Remove the stagnant water-Rinse the coop and sweep out the stagnant water since stagnant water can cause excess moisture in the enclosure. Allow the enclosure to dry before placing a fresh bedding material to keep the chicks comfortable.
Feed Good and Quality Food
Malnutrition can make your chicks weak and prone to death. Provide your baby chicks with good and high-quality feed right from the first week. Introduce quality starter feed to your chicks. The feed should have at least 20% protein. Protein is essential for baby chicks as it is crucial for adult chickens, especially hens. Baby chicks need protein for proper early growth.
Furthermore, protein helps chicks grow feathers quickly. Some great sources of protein for baby chicks include soybean and fish meal. Chicks can die if they lack enough amino acids in their daily feed. Amino acids are crucial for baby chicks since they support their development.
Chicks need a decent amount of minerals and vitamins in their diet since the two help support their bone health. Introduce some probiotics and prebiotics in your baby chicks’ diet to support their immune health and prevent them from succumbing to diseases that kill chicks in the first week of their life.
Provide Fresh Water Daily
Water is crucial in the development and growth of baby chicks. It helps them digest hard feed, which can lead to digestive complications. Water is pretty essential for chicks in summer when the temperatures are extremely high, and the birds need to cool themselves constantly. Water is crucial for every part of baby chicks’ metabolism.
It is vital for regulating body temperature and critical in helping baby chicks eliminate body waste. An accumulation of waste can generate toxins that can prematurely kill baby chicks.
Don’t Overcrowd Your Chicks
Overcrowding can be disastrous to baby chicks since it can make them stampede on each other, causing deaths and life-threatening injuries among the chicks. Even though you have a huge flock of baby chicks, it helps to give each chick enough space where it can freely walk around and flap its growing wings.
Ideally, each baby chick should have at least a square feet of space to avoid an instance where the baby chicks will step on each other or sleep on each other when roosting at night. Overcrowding can make your baby chicks, especially tiny ones, die from suffocation. Countless baby chicks die each year due to suffocation due to overcrowding.
Decongesting your cage is ultimately a nice way to stop overcrowding in your enclosure and give every chick in the flock some breathing space.
Detect and Treat Disease Quickly
Some of the common chick diseases can wipe your whole flock. Most of these diseases are highly contagious and can spread among your baby chicks within no time. Other conditions will inflict serious injuries in chicks, hindering them from growing accordingly. Chicken keepers need to detect these diseases and seek treatment for their young fowls before succumbing to death.
Get a vet to check on your baby chicks if you think any condition could be affecting your tiny birds. Below are some common chick diseases you need to be on the lookout for and seek treatment as soon as you detect them in your flock.
- E Coli -A bacterial infection causes this disease in baby chicks, particularly chicks that are a couple of weeks old. It has one of the highest mortality rates for baby chicks. You can detect this condition in your baby chicks by checking symptoms such as breathing complications, coughing, diarrhea, and lethargy.
- Necrotic Enteritis -This disease affects 2 to 5 weeks old baby chicks. Its symptoms include diarrhea that comes with a rotten odor. It is treatable with antibiotics, and you can also prevent it by maintaining clean conditions.
- Brooder Pneumonia-This disease usually affects chicks when they are between 7 and 40 days old. Its symptoms include breathing complications, poor appetite, and frequent drinking.
Avoid Stress and Bullying
Stress and bullying are also leading causes of death for baby chicks. Stressful factors such as predation can increase the risk of your baby chicks dying. Keep your baby chicks free from predators and protect them from stressful factors.
Older chickens usually bully baby chicks, injuring them and sometimes killing the tiny birds. Separate your baby chicks from their older counterparts to avoid unnecessary bullying.
Baby chicks are at a higher risk of dying than older chickens, thanks to their fragile nature. Although baby chicks have a high mortality rate compared to adult chickens, you can prevent your chicks from dying. Put measures in place to stop your young birds from dying at an early age.