Possible Causes for Sick and Deformed Chicks:
The exact needs during the incubation process and/or after hatching are not met.
- Inufficient Rotation of the Eggs. Eggs should be rotated 5 times a day. The result of incomplete or insufficient egg rotation is that chick organs stick to the sides of the shells. Chicks are born with their intestines outside their bodies.
- Incubation temperature too high
- Low Humidity. Eggs need a certain amount of humidity - or else it will also affect chick development. Usually parents know what to do. You will see the female bathe and then continue to sit on / incubate the eggs - thus increasing humidity as needed. The chick's parents should be provided with bathing opportunities. A shallow dish at the bottom of the cage, for example.
- Interrupted Incubation: chicks can become crippled or die in the shell
- Shaking / Vibrations in the early stages will kill any chick inside the egg; at the later stage, it can result in crippled chicks
- For more information on proper conditions of the eggs during incubation, please refer to the incubationprocedures.html
Exposure to toxins / environmental contaminants, including - but not limited to - organochlorine (OC) pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the food, water or air
- Results in physical deformities in chicks.
- "Experiments made upon animals in many laboratories have shown that embryological development can be easily modified. The breathing of fumes of alcohol, ether, chloroform, mercury, illuminating gas and any other abnormal volatile substance ... causes the appearance of many deformed young in the progeny. Exposure of incubating eggs to such fumes and in excess of carbon dioxide increases the number of deformed chicks, sometimes to 90% or more. Addition of abnormal substances to the water containing gametes of any living creatures increases the number of deformed ova or embryos. Both male and female germinal cells are affected by such poisons. (Ref: www.meridianinstitute.com.)
Cold Outside Temperatures
- Can cause parents to sit too hard on the chicks, causing splay-leggedness and other bone deformities.
Poor nutrition or bad (contaminated or expired) batch of feed
- Soft bones, bone deformities, etc.
- Recommended action: Provide best possible, uncontaminated feed / nutrition.
- Add supplement such as Calcivet (CalciBoost) to hand-rearing food. (ref.: http://birdcareco.com)
- Vet visit recommended
Depending on the degree of malnutrition, either death or physical symptoms will occur. Please refer to the below:
Required Nutrient and Signs of Deficiency
Vitamin A - Death at about 48 hours of incubation from failure to develop the circulatory system; abnormalities of kidneys, eyes and skeleton
Vitamin D - Death at about 18 or 19 days of incubation, with malpositions, soft bones, and with a defective upper beak prominent.
Vitamin E - Early death at about 84 to 96 hours of incubation, with hemorrhaging and circulatory failure (implicated with selenium).
Thiamin - High embryonic mortality during emergence but no obvious symptoms other than polyneuritis in those that survive.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) - Mortality peaks at 60 hours, 14 days, and 20 days of incubation, with peaks prominent early as deficiency becomes severe. Altered limb and beak development, dwarfism and clubbing of down are defects expressed by embryo.
Niacin - Embryo readily synthesizes sufficient niacin from tryptophan. Various bone and beak malformations occur when certain antagonists are administered during incubation.
Biotin - High death rate at 19 days to 21 days of incubation, parrot beak, chondrodystrophy, several skeletal deformities and webbing between the toes. Perosis.
Pantothenic acid - Deaths appear around 14 days of incubation, although marginal levels may delay problems until emergence. Variable subcutaneous hemorrhaging and edema; wirey down in poults.
Pyridoxine - Early embryonic mortality based on antivitamin use.
Folic acid - Mortality at about 20 days of incubation. The dead generally appear normal, but many have bent tibiotarsus (long leg bone), syndactyly (fused toes) and beak malformations. In poults, mortality at 26 days to 28 days of incubation with abnormalities of extremities and circulatory system.
Vitamin B12 - Mortality at about 20 days of incubation, with atrophy of legs, edema, hemorrhaging, fatty organs, and head between thighs malposition.
Manganese - Deaths peak prior to emergence. Chondrodystrophy, dwarfism, long bone shortening, head malformations, edema, and abnormal feathering are prominent. Perosis.
Zinc - Deaths prior to emergence, and the appearance of rumplessness, depletion of vertebral column, eyes underdeveloped and limbs missing.
Iodine - Prolongation of hatching time, reduced thyroid size, and incomplete abdominal closure.
Iron - Low hematocrit; low blood hemoglobin; poor extra-embryonic circulation in candled eggs.
Source / Reference: gallus.tamu.edu/Extension/publications/b6092.pdf
Actions you can take:
- Provide the best possible nutrition, that is free from any contaminants
- Educate yourself on toxic household programs / toxicity in your home (Ref. Green and Healthy Website)
- In order to assess if it incorrect incubation procedures by the parents, foster the eggs out with proven pairs or incubate the chicks yourself
- And/or any other actions as recommended by your vet
Other Relevant Web Resources
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USA: Find Your Local Avian Veterinarian
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