Some of our new little chicks have had a hard time since their move to our farm.
First off, a couple of days after I brought them home and put them in the apartment, I went down to the barn and they were sitting outside in their cage. Even though Tom rarely takes it upon himself to do anything with the livestock, I assumed that he had put them out there for some air, or...something. They do make the room that they're in stinky even though I clean the cage regularly.
Anyway, I saw one of them lying on the bottom of the cage with other chicks standing on it and I thought it might be dead. Then I noted that they were sitting out there in the full sun and it was hot. I picked up the little chick and it was still alive, so I put it's beak in the water and it took a drink. After it was sufficiently revived to stand on it's own, I took them inside and went to ask Tom, "what's the deal?" Yes, he thought they needed some fresh air. "But, why in the full sun and how long had they been out there?" I asked. "Only a couple of hours and I was out there with them most of the time." was the answer. About half an hour later, I went to check on them again. The distressed chick was still standing there drinking water. It did fully recover.
So, this morning I noticed that one of the chicks looked smaller and lethargic. But, sometimes they are just sleepy and while all the others are running around eating and cheeping, the sleepy one will huddle by itself. I had to leave and made a mental note to check that chick later.
I moved the chicks in their cage into the chicken pen (we've been keeping the chickens penned up until the garden is established so they won't scratch up my tender veggies) so they could be with the big chickens, but still be safe and Harry couldn't chase the big chickens away. (Yes, I put them in the shade).
When I got home and went to move them back inside, the little chick looked worse. It was huddled down, wings splayed out, mouth hanging open...actually, it looked like a stroke victim and had what appeared to be a little piece of food at the tip of it's beak, which I thought was pretty weird. What? Is it trying to eat and just doesn't have the strength to swallow?
I took it out of the cage to inspect and here's the deal. It's mouth was glued open with chicken poop. I mean, really, how uncool is it to have your mouth glued open with poop?
My working theory is that it was sleeping under the little perch and another chick above it pooped on it. I'm not sure how it happened with the mouth open unless it was actually trying to get the poop off. Or, maybe it's an open mouth sleeper. I don't know. Anyway, the poop dried and actually glued the bottom part of the beak to the breast feathers. With the mouth glued open, the chick could neither eat nor drink. After I pried the beak loose and the chick could move freely, it started eating immediately.
Now I have to wait and see if I caught it in time. It's amazing how quickly those chicks can go downhill.