Help! Sick chick with spasms : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

My first batch of hatchery chicks arrived Monday and I've already got a sick one! I've looked everywhere and can't find any information on symptoms like this. The second day after this chick arrived it was twitching, drawing up one leg at a time, picking at its sides and under its wings, and then falling over on its back, twitching, and cheeping really loudly during the whole episode. It is a Barred Rock. I've seen it eat & drink and everything, but it is fairly listless. One of the others (Rhode Island Red) has done this too but I've only seen that one have an episode twice. Anyone know what this is? Should I put the little chick out of its misery? Am I gonna lose them all to some weird disease???

Thanks for any help you can give me.


-- Cass (, March 30, 2001


We've usually had 1 or 2 chicks die in mail order shipments, sometimes after a few days. Not much you can do except watch and hope. If it's being trampled by the other chicks I would separate it.

-- David C (, March 30, 2001.


4 possibilities that I can think of....

1. There is a terminal gene found in some breeds that causes this kind of behavior. If this little chick is in fact unlucky enough to be expressing this type of gene then he's a gonner.

2. Is it also occasionally throwing its head back and doing backward somersaults? If so then mom didnt get enough thiamine and his brain isnt properly formed. In this instance he will die without your constant assistance. The constant flipping keeps it from eating and drinking so it will die within 3 days or so of arrival from starvation/dehydration. When Ive had these we were able to save them, usually at my wifes insistance and because of her assistance, by moving the little bird over to the waterer and sitting it down to let it take a drink. Cup your hand over its body but not its neck or head and let your hand act as a cieling so it cant flip. Then move it to the food and do the same thing. Back and forth until it seems full. Run through this process about 5 times per day (or more if you can find someone to do it). You will have to do this until it learns to sit while drinking/eating and its body begins to lengthen in comparison to its width. The period of time that you will have to do this is dependant on the growth rate of the bird so it may be a while. These birds will eventually feed themselves but will always behave a bit odd (ie I have one of these ducks and when he gets excited he runs around and around in circles until he falls down.)

3. There is another deficiency in the mothers diet (the specific nutrient isnt coming to me right now) that can cause what is sometimes referred to as "crazy chick syndrome". Note that this is not the same as the bacterial infection also called "crazy chick syndrome" which doesnt usually occur at hatch. Ive never had one of these, Ive only read about it, but if I remember correctly, these little guys are gonners too.

4. Is it actually picking under its wings or is it just sticking its head under there? Sometimes one who gets trampled will exibit strange behavior like you are describing (not picking just hiding) when its neck gets injured in a stampede. I put a post in the henhouse called something like "Chicken medicine: a neck brace" that describes my successful efforts in rehabing neck injured chicks.

-- William in Wi (, March 30, 2001.

I have seen this; I don't know what it is called; but I do know that its a mineral deficency.

-- mitch hearn (, March 30, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ