Young Birds Dying In The Nest Early
There are many reasons for young to die in the nest. The obvious ones of being trampled, chilled, etc. occur only occasionally.
Trichomonas can overwhelm a squab but this is not epidemic in most cases. When it occurs in extraordinary numbers, it is usually symptomatic of a septicemic (bodywide, being spread via the blood stream) infection caused by bacteria.
The infection can be started before hatching, the egg being contaminated before being laid or through bacteria penetrating the shell (this usually when conditions are damp and fecal contamination present. Most often it happens immediately after hatching.
A correlation which I have just figured out is the use of nest pads. Nest pads have been the common denominator in all the cases that I have been involved with this season.
Granted, nest pads are commonly used with good results, but for some reason I believe that they become a good place for bacteria to increase in numbers. These bacteria serve to infect the babies as they hatch, probably invading through the umbilicus before it dries.
All babies are exposed to some bacteria, as they are never in very aseptic condition at hatching. I takes an infective dose of bacteria to begin an infection, the numbers depending on many variables.
The more bacteria that are present, the easier it is for them to infect. If nest pads are used (either commercial varieties or homemade from carpet,etc.), they should be disinfected and dried thouroughly before use, and should be replaced just before the babies hatch to discourage this from happening.
This is recommended for lofts having this problem. For those who use them with no problems, it may be something to consider. A Clorox soulution, or Nolvasan solution can be used to disinfect, but remember to wash away as much organic material before soaking. Soaking time of an hour or so should be adequate. They should be thouroughly dry and aired before reuse.
It is possible that I am making an inaccurate assumption, but I feel it is my duty to share what I suspect to hopefully help as many fanciers prevent problems.
In cases where no pads are used, it is still wise to change nest material with each new clutch and just before eggs hatch.Culturing a fresh dead baby may also help understand this syndrome.
Babies dying early on occurs occasionally but when this becomes epidemic, nest pads should be at the top of the rule-out list.
Young Birds Dying in the Nest Early by Dr. David E. Marx DVM