Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. ~ Katherine Mansfield

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chick Killer

It was me. All me. Months of prep, research and reading down the drain. I poisoned 5 innocent chicks. I am the Lady Macbeth of poultry.

So, in an attempt to absolve my guilt and save others from the heartache of a murder most fowl, let me shed light on a common problem with new chicken owners: Death by Electrolytes.

If you buy a water soluble vitamin and electrolyte solution suitable for all livestock like the one pictured here:

do not try to follow the dosing instructions on the package.

For chickens, a pinch of granules should be added to one gallon of water. 

Your water should look like this (palest yellow):

Not like this (deadly yellow):

With the strain that this overdose put on the chicks' systems, their hearts had to work overtime to keep up. This in turn stressed out their respiratory systems and resulted in ascites. Ascites is commonly referred to as "water belly" and can be identified by excessive bloating in chicks that results in a loss of energy, an inability to support their own increased weight, and labored breathing. Some recover, but the mortality rate at high altitude is much higher.

These two Ameraucana ("Ella") chicks are the same age, but the darker one is currently ailing from ascites. She's a trooper though and I am hoping that she'll be able to release the toxins from her system successfully. She's smaller today than yesterday, and if she recovers she'll return to her natural size.

Note the dark Ella's inability to support her weight, tuck in her wings (resulting in a very splayed appearance), and the size of the two chicks' bellies in relation to each other.

I hope my error can save someone else from going down the same deadly route. Every new endeavor has a learning curve, but unfortunately for two Sunshines, two Ellas and a Sadie the cost was their little lives. I'm sorry girls.

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