Chicks raising happy, healthy chickens

How to Revive a Baby Chick

We often trade nice spring temperatures for severe spring storms. And for broody hens and their chicks outside, it can be a dangerous time. Because, if a chick gets wet, it can suffer hypothermia. Therefore, you need to know how to revive a baby chick.

If you have chickens for any number of years, you’ll see many things. And sometimes it can be all at once. Like broody hens, chicks, illnesses, near death, and even revival from death.

black hen with a baby Maran chick

For example, we have 4 broody hens with only 2 hatched chicks right now. And that’s not including the chicks we incubated and hatched recently. Well, the last set of thunderstorms we had flooded an area near the back of our coop. And for some reason, one broody hen and her chick stayed out in the rain. So, when we went to check on the birds, it was lifeless. Or it appeared that way.

Thus, I’m going to cover different methods to revive baby chicks, since you might find chicks at various stages of weakness.

How to Revive a Baby Chick:

three black baby chicks on pine shavings near a chick waterer

Weak and Dehydrated Chicks

The first time you might need to revive a baby chick is if you order chicks from a hatchery. That’s because the nature of shipping chicks includes lack of temperature control and long shipping times. And the lack of temperature control raises a chick’s body temperature, causing it to pant, thereby resulting in dehydration.

Signs of a Weak and Dehydrated Chick

  • Difficulty breathing, such as panting
  • Isolation
  • Sleepiness
  • And refusal to eat and drink

The first thing to do when you get mail order chicks is put them in the brooder that you prepared ahead of time. Next, provide lukewarm water, because they had a long trip. You don’t want to give them cold water, since it could shock their systems. And as they’re getting settled, do an assessment on them. Do they look healthy? Are any of them showing symptoms listed above?

Solution for Weak and Dehydrated Chicks

3 pack of chick electrolytes

In the event you have a weak and/or dehydrated chick, do the following:

  • Remove the chick from the brooder, and wrap it in a hand towel
  • Next, provide electrolytes; you can give this to all of the chicks
  • If the chick is too weak to drink on its own, assist it every ~ 10-15 minutes for an hour. (You’ll know a chick is drinking when it tips its head and smacks its beak. Don’t force anything down its beak; it can go into the lungs and cause more issues.) Then, steadily extend the time between assisted waterings. And keep it away from direct heat, since this could keep it dehydrated. However, keep it warm in a hand towel.
  • In addition, after ~ 2 days, you can give a chick some egg yolk
  • Chicks who were simply chilled should rebound within an hour

How to Revive a Baby Chick:

person holding brown chick during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on

Wet and Hypothermic Chicks

If you incubate and raise your own chicks, it’s possible you won’t ever have to revive a wet and hypothermic chick. Although, if you have chickens that tend to go broody, that’s another story. Especially with spring weather and the threat of flooding.

But spring weather isn’t the only cause for concern. Sprinkler systems and chicks falling into waterers can also cause baby chicks to quickly fall prey to hypothermia.

Signs of Wet and Hypothermic Chicks

Your first sign you have a wet and hypothermic chick is that the chick is wet; it’s pretty obvious. And the other sign is that it might look dead. It may even flop lifelessly, when you pick it up, but all is not lost, if you’re quick. And you don’t give up.

Solution for Wet and Hypothermic Chicks

  • First, bring the chick inside
  • Next, gently dry it with a towel to get rid of the extra moisture
  • Then, blow dry the chick on the lowest setting; but holding it, making sure the air isn’t too hot to burn the chick

Some sites recommend putting the chick straight under a heat lamp after this. However, I think it should depend upon the severity of the symptoms. If your chick was conscious when you found it, then after it’s dry, put it under a heat lamp. But, if your chick was unresponsive, then it will take you a while to get it to waken. It will be weak and tired, although persevere, so it doesn’t die.

2 black hens with their baby chicks
This is the day after the storm. And you can see the small one is just fine.

When we rescued the chick, the momma hen was so distraught; it was storming, and we took her baby away. So after we revived her chick, and it was in the clear, we brought the momma hen inside. (We didn’t want to risk putting the baby back out in the wet and cold. And we didn’t want the momma hen to needlessly suffer.) Then, after getting it situated and set-up, we put both of them in a dog crate. Just looking at the chick the next day, you couldn’t tell it had almost died.

Have you ever had to revive a baby chick? Or did a baby chick ever get caught in the rain or waterer?

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I breed pure Black Ameraucana chickens and Easter Eggers that are Black Ameraucana mixed with either Cuckoo Maran or Barred Rock. And I donate eggs to people or organizations in need.

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