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Written by Carole

I have been keeping chickens for a few years now and I believe this year has been the most educational in dealing with sick chickens. A few weeks ago I had the scaley leg mites episode and now I have a few sick baby chickens.

If you will remember, I received 15 baby chickens back in October. Normally I have no problems raising baby chickens but this time around has been different. They are now about 5 weeks old. At about 3 weeks old I noticed one baby chicken had a wart on its eye (at least that is what I thought it was). Of course the chick had to scratch it until the eye was swollen and bleeding. When I transferred the chicks over to a new cage outside, I noticed the eye was a little better.

Well on Tuesday of this week I went to feed the baby chickens as usual and noticed there were more scratching their eyes and some looking runny. Now before I post these pictures be warned that they are not very pretty, so if you don’t like looking at sick animals turn the page!
Sick Baby Chickens
Sick Baby Chicken eyesSick Baby Chicken eyes
As you can see by the pictures some of the infections are worse than the others but with the timing of how quickly it was spreading it would not be too long until they all were looking real bad.

I started doing a little research and found that Terramycin is an antibiotic for chickens and it was available at your local farm store. I called the friend who gave me the baby chickens to see how her baby chicken was doing. All was well with her and the bonus was she had Terramycin in powder form so my husband went by her house and picked some up.

We got the antibiotic home and after a thorough cleaning of their water jug, added the antibiotic. We are now on day 3 of the medicine and they are starting to look much better. My fear is that the baby chicken with the really bad case will lose sight in one eye. I have a few that their eyes were totally swollen and matted shut so it is a matter of time to find out if I waited too long.

I’m not sure what this disease is but it spread like wildfire. It seemed like overnight that it went from one to all. I think this is not uncommon when you are chicken raising and caring for baby chickens. Once one of your chickens gets sick definitely keep an eye out on the others for the same symptom. This is probably one of the biggest things I learned in keeping chickens.

Something else to note on giving your chickens antibiotics, a lot of people think that if they give their animals antibiotics regularly this will help keep them healthy. From what I read, giving the animals antibiotics for no illness reasons causes the animal to become resistant to the benefits of the antibiotics. Now I am not a veterinarian so I do not know if this is a fact but it makes sense to me.

Personally I have never given my chickens any kind of drugs. I have dusted them with sevin dust and dunked their legs in cooking oil but that is the extent of my veterinarian skills. I am also like that about my family. We go so infrequently to the doctor that I couldn’t tell you the last time I went. And if I have any say about in the future, my preference is to not go. (I’m sure God is laughing at me right now).

If your visiting right now and know what is wrong with my baby chickens and did something differently to cure them, please comment. The antibiotic seems to be working but I am open to other suggestions just in case.


15 Responses to “Raising Baby Chickens”

  1. This is something new for me, Carole- I’ve never had any experience with this sorta thing before! I’m glad it seems to be clearing up for them.
    I do use the Terramycin on occasion- about once every couple of months I put a small dose in everybody’s water except in the summer when I use the electrolyte.

    Farm Chick Paulas last blog post..Pumpkin, anyone?


  2. Ask at the Backyardchickens.com forum. There are some incredibly knowledgeable and very friendly folks there with quick and accurate (well, usually) advice. This forum was highlighted in Newsweek recently!


  3. Hey Carole, Just wanted to know how your birds are? The Black Australorp that I got from you at the swap has the same symptoms that you are describing here. I have lost one chick already and I have 3 that are sick right now. I have been treating with Terramycin powder in their water and Terramycin eye gel in their eyes. Please email me to discuss the outcome of your birds.
    Thanks, Richard


  4. Sorry to hear the little chick is sick. The chickens you saw on this blog post are not from the same set and they are now laying eggs. I did end up losing one when they had that episode. It is kind of like a head cold for chickens. I gave my terramycin and then switched to a stronger version of antibiotic for a couple of days. It takes about two weeks for the cold to run its course.

    The other chicks I have that were hatched at the same time are doing fine but I may just give them some antibiotic to ward off any potential cold. I can’t tell you if the cold came from my stock or not since the other chicks are not sick.


  5. how long until baby chickens eyes open see I have just saw one in my coop and its under the mother (i was checking to see if any eggs had hatched) it was laying down peeping and its eyes were closed


  6. Epaw, The eyes will be open within a very short time. You may have just caught the chick just after it hatched. It is amazing but within a few short hours they are up scurrying around and chirping.


  7. We have a 2 week old chick that won’t open one eye. There isn’t any swelling or sores…she is just keeping her one eye closed. Any ideas…or suggestions.


    Bobby Reply:

    Me too! I need help :(((


  8. I have not had baby chicks with eye infection, but I have had a few get hypothermia in the Fall. Once it starts raining, the poor chicks ended up in a cold mud puddle, shaking a little, but barely moving. I was scared that the chicks would die, but I found that but taking them into our heated garage and drying them off made them as good as new after a few hours.


  9. I just had a tradgedy i lost nine of my ten chicks… I am not sure exactly why they died, but the other night we let our house get down to 58 degrees and they were all fine no sign of being to cold or anything. Then the next morning i awoke to 5 dead 4 barely breathing and on is just fine! was wondering if anyone might have a reason or cause for this sudden change of events…


  10. sorry to hear… i got 6 chick for my birthday, they were all fine until my cat got 4 of them. the other 2 were fine for about a month until one caught a wierd sickness and it died. about three days later the other one started feeling sick! i dont know if it was because my dad was cooking in the laundry (because we ran out of power plugs… as we were cooking a big meal). he/ she drank a bit but im not sure if its gonna be ok. can you help as it is my last baby chick!!!! pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  11. We have 18 baby chicks that are about a week old. I noticed a couple of days ago one chicks keeps scratching it’s face. I held it and rubbed it’s little face thinking maybe something had gotten on it from the bedding. Put it back down and it stopped for the moment. Last night I saw it standing trying to sleep and would start to fall sideways. Then it would shake it’s head quickly and then scratch frantically at it’s face over and over again. It just kept doing this.
    Is this normal?
    The other chicks are not doing this that I know of.
    Anyone experience this?
    Was this how your chicks started before they eyes swelled?


    sarah Reply:

    My chicks are doing the same thing and then they die, did you figure out what was wrong with yours?


  12. Help… one of my chick’s eye is closed and it has fur (it’s new okay!) on it! I only have 1 chick… I don’t know what to do… I lost two when I was younger and am determined not to lose anymore. Help me please. I don’t want it losing him vision. His name’s Oliver and I hope he gets better soon. Pray that he gets better.



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