Monday, April 20, 2009
Three Yellow Mosaic Chicks Left Their Nest at 13 Days
Neonatology Puzzler: Jumping Out of the Nest Early
What would you think if you had a nest of three yellow mosaic colorbred chicks all desert their nest at 13 days?
Are these chicks developing faster than the normal 18 days for leaving the nest and perhaps the brightest chicks on the block or is their trouble?
Where do you start to answer the questions?
Answer: The first place to start your investigation is the health of the chicks. Upon examination I first notice lethargic chicks, not making any begging sounds with squinting eyes (top photo) from dehydration and pasted vent (second photo). The good news was that all three chicks were quite fat when this happened. I work second shift several days a week and have helpers give my hens a 6 pm feeding. Unfortunately, they fed them hard boiled egg as they thought they were cute. Hard boiled egg is great till banding but must be stopped till the first chick leaves the nest as the hen feeds so much to growing chicks that it is too rich for them and gives them liquid diarrhea pasted vents.
After cleaning the vent and massaging it to see it was truly open, I would need to hand feed them as if they do not beg, the hen is not going to feed them.
Photo three shows the empty crop, while photo four shows how to perch the chick on your finger to feed it. In photo five, I must pry the beak open and force feed the chick. I use my left thumb to force the beak to stay open while placing food in its mouth. Feeling the food on its tongue, the chick will swallow. (I just love the chicks expression!)
It is typical that chicks which are feathered and have never been hand fed will not open up to be fed. And that to feed them you will need to pry the beak open and keep it open while you feed. It is also expected that sick chicks will refuse food so you must force feed to verse the problem.
The first day I hand fed numerous times and washed the vent a few times always making sure it was open. Photo six shows the full crop, it is important to not stuff the chick just a small amount works well as you do not want impaction or aspiration.
After 24 hours, the chicks started begging again and would open wide for Big Bird to feed them. Notice how I hold the food on the toothpick above their head to tempt them to open up. I also stroke under the beak.
After this set back, I expect these chicks may take a few extra days to wean! It seems the more you hand fed at this age the longer they want you to be hand fed!!