Friday, March 27, 2009

Monitoring Chick Skin Tone

Keep the Chick Skin Tone Desert Rose Pink!

In addition to the chicks being fluffy, their skin tone is another clue to their health. As they grow daily, the chick skin tone should become more and more rosy pink color that I would describe as desert rose pink. This indicates that the chicks are progressing on target with no hitches! (The top picture of yesterdays post shows a very nice rosy pink color on the center bird. The top bird, in the top picture, is showing some melanin skin pigment and should not to be confused with the abnormal red color.)

Sometimes, when the diet is too rich, chicks develop an unhealthy bright red skin tone, usually apparent around banding time. Should you see redness in the chicks skin tone, don't wait for it to get worse, take immediate action and cut the hard boiled egg, make sure that you have not added extra sugar to your usually good egg food recipe, and dilute the egg food 1/2 again with ABBA green 92 and offer a dish of plain ABBA green 92. In addition, offer greens such as broccoli if the chicks have been banded.

You can expect red skin chicks and maybe even the hen to develop diarrhea! The hen's breast feathers may become soiled with fecal material. Although she initially stuffed her chicks, after developing diarrhea, she is not likely to feed her chicks. Sometimes you find, even though she is sick she is feeding. Unfortunately, you may find a stuffed chick, the largest one, dead in the nest. Its crop did not empty.

Live chicks have another problem, their vents can be sealed with an almost invisible coat of fecal material. I have seen the coating so invisible that you had to peel it off with you finger nail to even see it is there! The nest will be soiled and needs to be changed and each chick's vent examined, and washed with warm water, and massaged to be sure that it is indeed open and not sealed shut! Looking at the chick's abdomen is also a clue as you will see fecal material backed up that is long overdue to be expelled. As the chicks worsen, they become very dehydrated and their skin will not only look red but it will feel sticky!

Should the droppings have a foul odor, the problem is not simply too rich of food but is a bacterial infection likely with E. coli and will require antibiotics that are effective against gram negative bacteria. Make sure there are no mice or rats fecal contamination in the food or aviary. Make sure that the water is fresh and not delivered from holding tanks or garden hose. Make sure that you always remember to wash your hands with soap and dry your hands thoroughly before entering the aviary and handling eggs or chicks as fecal bacteria like E. coli are part of the normal human intestinal flora and you could be the source of the bacteria! Take care of any sick birds last and wash up again with soap and water frequently. Unfortunately, once you detect the foul smell the chicks and maybe the hen, will likely die....and you sure don't want to spread this around the aviary...

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