If you are a chicken breeder or just an enthusiast who has chosen to hatch a brood with your backyard chickens, you are probably experiencing some of the highs and lows that come with watching new life enter the world.
Chicks are marvels of nature and watching them leave their eggs, flop around in the straw, and slowly fluff up into recognizable chickens is an amazing process, but if one of them isn’t doing so well, you may be panicking.
There are a lot of things that can make chicks sickly, so this is a likely scenario, especially if you raise babies on a regular basis.
If you have a lethargic baby chicken with closed eyes, you may be wondering what you can do and how to solve the problem.
Chicks are totally dependent on humans for any intervention that may save their lives, and it’s important to act quickly if you want the little one to survive. Unfortunately, like the young of many species, they are vulnerable to diseases and infections.
Make sure that you pay attention to the health of a whole brood from the time they hatch to at least a few weeks old. It’s easy for something to go wrong at any point, and acting quickly could make all the difference in whether a chick survives or not.
Why Is My Baby Chick Lethargic With Its Eyes Closed?
There are many things that can make a chick ill, especially when it is only a few days or weeks old, and it can be difficult to determine what’s wrong, but there are a few key things to look out for.
Any coughing or sneezing indicates that the chick has a respiratory infection, especially if it has any discharge appearing around its nostrils or eyes.
Anemia is another common issue in chicks that are less than a month old, and it’s a viral infection that can lead to cloudy eyes and lethargy.
A further possibility is Marek’s disease, which attacks the central nervous system and causes paralysis, or results in tumors, depending on the strain of the disease.
Marek’s will also make a chick more vulnerable to other issues, reducing its immunity, and it can lead to lameness and blindness, so it is important to test for this if you think there is a risk your chick may have it.
This virus is unfortunately contagious, so you will need to test all of the birds that have been in contact with the one that seems sickly, even if they appear healthy.
Any of these diseases could make a chick curl up and close its eyes, and it’s a good idea to isolate a chick as soon as it seems to be unwell, so that it cannot spread the disease to others and so that they don’t pick on it. Many diseases can spread fast, so prompt action will be key.
How To Help A Lethargic Baby Chick With Closed Eyes!
The most important thing to do with a sick chick is to get it to an avian vet if possible, because they will be able to diagnose the issue and make sure the bird gets the proper treatment.
You should not attempt to treat a chick at home, because most issues that can cause lethargy and the closing of the eyes will be fatal without medication.
Chicks behaving in this way would be vulnerable to predators in the wild, so it indicates that they are extremely unwell.
You should isolate the chick and place it in a warm (but not hot) enclosure where it is safe from being picked on and away from any household pets. If the chick was outside, bring it into your home so that you can keep an eye on it and ensure it is safe from predators.
You may want to use a heat lamp or a hot water bottle filled with warm water, but make sure you don’t get the bird too hot.
If the chick cannot support itself, roll up an old towel to form a nest shape around it. This will keep it upright and help to conserve body heat so the chick doesn’t get chilled, and it may also help it to feel calmer.
In some cases, feeding the chick a little sugar water may perk it up, but only if it will willingly take it; don’t pour this down its throat, as it is likely to choke.
Should I Be Worried If My Baby Chick Is Lethargic And Has Its Eyes Closed?
Yes, you should be worried by these symptoms. Chicks depend on being able to run away from predators from a young age, since their parents can’t easily defend them (although both hens and roosters are dedicated parents and will certainly try to ward off an attacker).
A chick that sits with its eyes closed cannot run away from a predator or even see one approaching, so a bird that does this is usually extremely unwell and essentially at the point where it has given up.
That doesn’t mean you cannot take action, however; it may still be possible to save the little one. Keeping it in a warm, stress free environment and getting help from an expert may give you the tools you need to ensure it survives.
Don’t leave a sick chick among the others in a flock; they will pick on it and it will likely die. It may also spread the disease to the others, so check your whole flock, and take action if any others are showing signs of illness.
A lethargic baby chick with closed eyes is very unwell, and you will probably need medication in order to save its life. You should discuss the situation with a trained vet, who can advise you on diagnosing the issue and treating it, and should be able to provide prescription medications if necessary. Do not try to treat the chick yourself, but if it will still drink, offer it a little sugar water, as this will boost its energy, helping it to recover.