Causes for Early Death or Mortality in Chicks

08 Oct 2021 11:21 AM Comment(s) By Aqgromalin Team

Chickens are very weak and vulnerable during the first few weeks after hatching. It is important to manage the flock well to keep them healthy otherwise early death of young chicks can dry out both your motivation and your resources.

Causes for Early Death or Mortality in Chicks

There may be different reasons for early chick mortality. Here is a list of the most common ones:

Genetic Causes

Around 21 lethal gene mutations in birds lead to chicks dying during incubation. Sometimes congenital trembling can even make them die as early as within one week of hatching.

Management Causes 

  1. High Brooding Temperature:  Very high brooding temperatures dehydrate the chicks making them drink more water. When coupled with less feed, their growth is affected resulting in death. They also die due to not being able to excrete waste as the faeces gather around the vent area and block breathing.
  2. Low Brooding Temperature:  Too low brooding temperatures is also fatal as continuous cold temperatures reduces immunity and increases the mortality. Also, low temperatures make the chickens stick together to get warmth and they get suffocated which increases the number of chickens dying.
  3. Poisoning: Chickens can die also due to unintended fatal ingredients in the feed, eating too much salt, herbicides, insecticides, disinfectants. The death rate due to this quite substantial in young chicks and differs according to period and exposure.
  4. Litter Contamination: One important reason of chicks dying is contamination from flooring materials like sawdust which is mistakenly eaten by them causing gastrointestinal problems and ending in death.
  1. Injuries:  Chickens may suffer injuries, if not handled carefully during vaccination, sexing, debeaking and movement from brooding places to rearing areas, which can lead to death.
  2. Inadequate Feeders and Drinkers, High Humidity:  Malfunctioning feeders and drinkers and high humidity can affect the flocks’ growth and health resulting in wastage of feed, water making the floor litter wet and leading to diseases. Less number of feeders and drinkers can also lead to inadequate feeding, starvation and death.

Nutritional Causes

  1. Water: Water is important for the growth and health of chickens as it regulates the body temperature during summer, transmits nutrients through the body and compensates for minor mineral deficits. Unclean and dirty water can affect all these and result in high death rates of chickens.
  2.  Vitamin Deficiency: Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins and vitamin C,B-complex are water soluble required for normal growth, development, and reproduction of chicks.  Deficiency of these vitamins in small amounts can lead to stopping growth, weight loss, dermatitis, rickets and anemia and high deficits can result in death also.



1. Pullorum is a bacterial infection which attacks chickens with signs of ruffled feathers, heavy breathing, diarrhea leading to death.

2.Chicken Anemia Virus Infection: Chicken anemia virus infection or CAV is a serious viral infection throughout the world reducing immunity making young chickens vulnerable to other diseases leading to death.

3.Salmonellosis:  Salmonellosis affects chickens of all ages and can spread fast leading to increase in temperature and other diseases like hepatitis, septicemia, arthritis, spleen enlargement and death.  

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