After their long awaited arrival, our chicks showed up yesterday. Things did not go exactly as planned...or well, anywhere near like the plan. We ordered 25 Silver Spangled Hamburgs from McMurray Hatchery, and they included a free "rare and exotic" chick. Since they were coming by mail, I knew to expect that one or two might not make it. Emma wanted to go to preschool with Grandma, so I would be able to check the box before she would be home.
I expected a call bright and early. By 11:30 we still hadn't heard anything, so Adam called the post office. Our chicks were there, and they had put them on the truck for delivery. At the time, I thought it was nice that I didn't have to go get them. I assumed they would put the chicks in one of the minivans they use, not the regular mail truck. Right after noon, the mailman showed up with the chicks. He looked excited, but told me that they weren't "as active as they were before." Uh-oh. I knew that wasn't a good thing. I didn't hear any movement in the box, and braced myself for the worst. It really was the worst.
I knew that if any were alive, they were chilled and needed warmth immediately. I stuck the whole box into the brooder, and lifted the lid. It looked so horrible. I could tell several were stiff, but I tapped the box gently to see if others would move. When I saw some movement, I got a glove and went to work. Each chick came out, and got moved to the warm side of the brooder. I took them one by one, and dipped their beaks in water until they had a drink. Then they went back into the brooder to keep warming up. At that point, eight were dead in the box.
Mom and Emma showed up about a half hour later, and some of the chicks were starting to put pick their heads up to look around. I mixed up gro-gel, which is a bright gel that provides nutrients, fats, probiotics, and liquids to the new chicks. It took awhile for the chicks to gain interest. At that point we had about six that were looking weak but improving. The rest were still laying around. I took the sickly chicks again, and dipped their beak a couple times so that they would drink. The worst got moved to the other side of their brooder with their own light, and the healthier birds were on the other side where they could move around.
Unfortunately, we started to lose about one per hour. We tried to keep Emma out, and visited about once an hour so that it was a calm environment for the chicks. Some point after dinner, I was so nauseated by it all that I had to stop. Adam, bless his heart, told me to go rest and he'd take care of it. By bed time, we had 12 of 26 still alive.
This morning Adam buried those that had died yesterday. The best we could do was to make sure that they got a decent burial under the crepe myrtle trees in the back yard. When I woke, there were seven left. I haven't checked back in yet, but I think another is on her way out. That leaves us with only six chicks left. We had intended on keeping six adult chickens, and only six chicks does not leave room for any later losses.
Adam called the hatchery today, and they were very understanding. They refunded us for the 19 that passed. Then, Adam called the post office. He explained that we lost most of the chicks, and let them know how they might make sure no more die. (Keep them warm, call immediately, etc.) The poor lady on the phone started crying and felt horrible.
We're praying that the rest are okay, and that we don't have to go through this again. It's always hard to lose animals, even when you aren't really attached yet. The pictures are of a couple of the healthiest looking survivors.