June 12, 2007
Chicks in Distress
Last week I got an email from someone who purchased the DVD a few weeks before. The whole exchange is probably worthwhile if you're wondering whether what I recommend about chicken care in the DVD really works and how I support folks who write after buying the DVD.

Help with Bantams?

I recently bought the chickenvideo DVD and I'm not sure exactly is wrong with my new chicks. I know late spring is rough on new birds, and the shipping, of course. Two were lost in shipping and 2 more passed on last night (they arrived about 5PM yesterday). This morning we awoke to 4 dead and 3 listless (2 of those have passed on). One more is listless (2 currently, plus the 10 lost).

The local shop only had scratch, what can I add to it to make it better? I've just added some oat bran and I have wheat germ. I found this page: http://www.lionsgrip.com/babychix.html and am trying to improve starting there.

I've changed out the water with milk because there were one or two with dark smeery movements.

I've had full-sized chickens and didn't have this problem -we hatched them from a neighbor's eggs. That makes me think it's mainly size and travel.

Any extra input would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for reading this,
Mrs. H

Dear Mrs. H
If you take a look at my chickenblog, I also for the first time this year had terrible luck with mail order chicks.

Your scratch feed will not work for chicks. It is too low in protein and they don’t have the ability to digest it without having grit available to grind it up.

For today, grind up some scratch in a blender so it is in tiny pieces. Add some wheat germ, and put out a dish of finely crumbled hard boiled egg. Add two tablespoons of sugar to their waterer along with fresh water.

That will help tide them over.

You can FedEx overnight some chick feed from one of the places that is listed on my “articles and links” page, or ask your feed store if they can get chick feed in for you -- I'd go with medicated if your chicks have runny poo.

Let me know how this works,

Dear Allison,
Thank you so much! I gave them the egg and kept up my search online and found another feed store! I called the store to be sure they had something (choice of medicated chick feed or broiler crumbles), threw all the children in the car and drove there straight away.

I did lose that other listless one by the time we came home. But, now I have more hope for the others. I'll know in the next few days how well I did.

Thanks for being a friend in my need,
Mrs. H

Mrs. H
Glad you found a feed supplier. One last thought — make sure your nighttime temperature in the brooder is staying up there. I cover my brooder with a blanket or add another lamp if it gets too chilly in the evening, I think that some of the chicks I lost this year may have been getting chilled by our 45 degree temps at 5am...just a thought.


I have the brooder box in a closet in my craft room for their first week or so. I'll lower the lamp tonight, just in case. My thermometer is in the corner of the brooder box -being bantams, I'm using a larger sized moving box for this week and will move up as they grow- and it's registering 90F in the day. We don't have AC, and the temperature doesn't drop too much with the door closed. But, I'll be sure to check when I wake to feed the baby later.

They may have gotten a chill last night, and a long ride here. I'd expected they would arrive earlier in the day, they called at 5PM. The weather has changed a bit cooler, windier, just yesterday.

They really perked up after the egg. When I got home they eagerly tried the new feed and I gave them more sugar water. There's one runt still that falls over every time it preens and the others think he's a great place to stand. Even he isn't sleeping on his side or back any more, unless he can't flip after preening.

I'm sure you know how it feels not wanting to sleep to make sure they're alright.

Thanks again!
Mrs. H

Mrs. H
I hope the last chick survives, unfortunately my experience is that when they do not become vigorous at first they may not make it. I had one chick that was runty this year that survived for five weeks, fledged out completely (covered with feathers) but perished the first night it had no supplemental heat. 8=(

Your bantams sound wonderful. I’ll say a little animal prayer for your runty chick. Let me know how she does.


Hi Allison,

I lost that last runt the day after I'd written. The other birds are looking great. They're getting wing feathers and two can fly across the box and are eying the tops of the mason jar feeder and waterer.

Thank you for all your help. Let me know if there's a way I can express my gratitude to you!

Mrs. H

Mrs. H
Thanks for letting me know, I’m so glad I was able to help. Hopefully your experience will make sure that others don't try to start chicks on scratch.
Cheers for Chickens!


Mrs. H sent this photo of her chicks. CHEEP!