Always add vitamins and electrolytes to water for newly hatched chicks!

Always add vitamins and electrolytes to water for newly hatched chicks. If they don't receive enough vitamin E in the first 8 weeks, or so, their brains may not develop properly; they may exhibit symptoms of encephalomalacia, a.k.a. "crazy chick disease," which looks remarkably like epilepsy.

One of my chicks contracted this issue at about 7 weeks; he had a slightly tilted head from about 3 day old. He seems much better after a couple of weeks of the powdered vitamins in his water; I haven't noticed a seizure in several days.

From The Chicken Health Handbook:

·        Incidence: rare

·        Percentage Affected: 1% to 10%

·        Human Health Risk: none

·        Cause: vitamin E deficiency, often related to selenium deficiency

·        Transmission: nutritional, does not spread from bird to bird

·        Prevention: Use only fresh feed, use within 2 weeks of purchase. Use feed containing vitamin E and antioxidants. Do not use expired vitamin supplements.

·        Treatment: successful only if started before brain is seriously damaged. For chicks, ¼ teaspoon vitamin AD&E powder per gallon of water until symptoms disappear. For older birds, ¼ cc AD&E injected into breast (intramuscular) in addition to vitamin powder in drinking water. Recovered birds may be blind in one or both eyes.

·        Symptoms: in chicks 1 to 8 weeks (most commonly 2 to 4 weeks) old; sudden loss of balance with legs outstretched, toes flexed, head pulled in or bent back, flapping wings and falling over, circling, moving head from side to side; sometimes trembling head and legs; paralysis, death.

·        System/Organ Effected: brain

·        Resembles: curled-toe paralysis, except that in curled-toe paralysis toes curl instead of flex and chicks tend to walk on their hocks; pyridoxine deficiency, except that in pyridoxine deficiency the nervous activity is much more intense and often ends in death.

·        Diagnosis: symptoms, post mortem findings, ration evaluation

·        Post Mortem Findings: none, or softened, swollen, deteriorated brain with red, brown, or greenish yellow discoloration

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Healthy blue Ameraucana chick