We've lost 10 chicks of the 26 that came almost 3 weeks ago. The remaining ones are small, as if they are only about a week old. We changed the grain and none died yesterday, so maybe it was old grain that had a mold that was killing them.
It is so sad to have sick animals that you can't help. We followed the advice for raising chicks to the letter, and still lost them. Luckily, the breeder offered to send 26 more chicks. Unfortunately they are coming on Monday, so I have to figure out how to have two brooders going. I also need to make sure we don't contaminate the new birds with whatever is ailing the older ones.
They were vaccinated for coccidiosis. They don't appear to have colds. I started losing them when they were about 5 days old, then lost one or two a day, sometimes skipping a day. The birds appear a little dirty, like they aren't primping themselves like healthy chicks do. The hair on their heads is sometimes spiky, like it has gotten wet.
They are kept warm with a heat lamp. I keep a thermometer directly below the light and measured 95 degrees F the first week, 90 degrees the second, and 85 this week. I changed the water and bedding daily. The bedding was fresh newspaper with paper towel on top, which I replaced when they were 2 weeks old with a pine/maple wood shaving litter. Their brooder is kept in our barn, with a large quilt on top of the plywood box for protection against drafts and the cold.
I think it is either the feed or they arrived in a weakened condition. They were shipped on a Saturday and came into Vermont's main postal distribution center on Sunday. I had to drive to a post office 40 minutes away to pick them up since USPS wouldn't deliver to my local post office on a Sunday. It was cold and rainy that day.
I've raised a few batches of 25-26 day-old chicks and lost none from some batches, and 2 from one. The two died within two days of the shipment. I think it is weird that after almost 2 1/2 weeks we are finding one or two dead each day. They simply seem to have never really thrived. I know I should cull them and then sterilize the brooder as best I can. But, I hate killing adult birds, and don't think I could kill a tiny chick. So, I'll try to keep nursing them along - and hope they don't contaminate the new birds, which I'll raise in the basement of our house, away from the first group.