Not all of the body parts described in this article can be observed from a distance, so while you probably will not be permitted to handle the chicks, always ask the store employee to show you body parts of a chick you’re contemplating purchasing.
SIGNS OF A HEALTHY CHICK
LEGS & FEET
A healthy chick’s feet and legs will be straight and they will stand tall. A chick with crooked toes or legs positioned oddly will need special care and while it may not necessarily be unhealthy, such deformities sometimes signal other underlying conditions that cannot be seen and may not be capable of correction.POSTURE
A healthy chick will stand tall and walk with ease. An unhealthy or physically challenged chick may have difficulty standing or walking, crouch, sit back on its hocks, its neck may retract back into its body, its beak may point towards the sky or bend towards its back or it may flip backwards.This Blue Laced, Red Wyandotte chick’s posture is abnormal. It sat in that position, staring blankly, slightly hunched over with its head pulled back into its body. Its condition worsened and it ultimately passed away.This is classic stargazing posture, which is a condition affecting a chick’s nervous system, preventing them from eating and drinking normally.
A chick’s navel should be completely closed and clean. A chick’s navel should not be red or oozing and should have no crust, egg yolk or stringy attachments.The navel on this newly hatched chick has a tiny bit of yolk sac string attached outside the body cavity. The scabbing on the belly button in the above photo should be monitored for infection.The chick in this photo has an unhealed navel. The yolk should have been absorbed into the body before the chick hatched. This can result in a life-threatening infection known as omphalitis or mushy chick disease. VENT
A healthy chick has a clean vent. The vent is the opening from which droppings are eliminated and eggs emerge (eventually). Pasty butt (aka: pasted vent or pasting up) is a condition that occurs in a baby chick when droppings stick to the down surrounding its vent. Poop builds up to form a blockage that can be fatal to the chicken unless removed. Pasty butt is not necessarily a sign of a sick chicken, but will require cleaning and monitoring. Read more about pasty butt prevention and treatment HERE.
This is (St)Eve, a 6-day-old chick who was not at all pleased to have been separated
from his peers or his mother.
It is essential to know whether a chick has been vaccinated and if so, WHICH vaccine(s) they received. There are several vaccines commonly given to chicks at hatcheries. If a baby chick has been vaccinated for coccidiosis, a common, often fatal, intestinal disease in chicks, medicated chick starter feed negates the vaccine. Much more about coccidiosis explained HERE. The feed store or hatchery should ALWAYS be able to tell you whether and which vaccines chicks they’re selling have received.