This year we once again ordered "Farmyard Assortment" from Sandhill Preservation Center in Calamus, Iowa.

Last year we had great success with our day old mail-order chicks from Sandhill. For only $20 (plus $12 for insured shipping by USPS) last July we got 6 Bantam and 22 regular chickens of various breeds, as well as a Fawn turkey. Of the six Bantams, half (three) have died very young, as did a Single Comb Light Brown Leghorn and a Buff Minorca. Of the 24 surviving birds from last year only nine are roosters (one of which is a Bantam).

Once again this year Sandhill Preservation Center shipped us a marvelous (and quite exotic) selection of straight run day old birds on April 22 and for the same amazing price as last year. This time there were 33 birds in the box (20 chickens, 9 Bantams and 4 turkeys). Unfortunately, we were not so lucky this time around and six of the birds arrived dead. Most of the rest were not looking so good, either. Only seven of the birds in this batch (all chickens) made it past the first week and are still with us today, almost a month later. In the attached picture, taken yesterday, are two chicks from this batch.

However, the shipment was insured and I had my postman, Bob, sign all the papers verifying dead arrivals. Sandhill Preservation Center handled the situation wonderfully and quickly sent me a replacement batch on their very next ship date, May 6th, at no cost. This assortments was not as exotic as the first set, but all the birds arrived safe and sound! The batch contained 12 Bantams, 15 regular chickens and three turkeys. Of these, 12 chickens, 11 Bantams and a turkey have now survived the first almost two weeks.

Here is what happened to the others... Two turkeys perished within the first few hours after arrival. I bet they overheated, but did not figure out to move from under the 250W heat lamp. The Bantam that died, apparently had a pasty butt, which I didn't catch in time. The three chickens that were lost, I think, were all Delawares, with the last of them starting to exhibit signs characteristic of Avian Encephalomyelitis (AE) at one week old. He was, of course, immediately separated from the others, but the big fear that he may have passed the disease on to the others still remains. The incubation period for AE is reportedly from 5 to 14 days, so I will be keeping my eyes wide open and fingers crossed for at least another week.

Month old chicks from Sandhill Preservation Center

Two - three days ago another bird from the latest batch started exhibiting symptoms exhibited by Avian Encephalomyelitis infected birds. she died this morning. I am not sure what breed she was. Also, I may have misidentified the breed of the three chicks that perished from similar symptoms earlier. Once the birds mature, it will be easier to tell which breeds they are and thus to better identify those that perished.

Last night around midnight the last surviving turkey from the latest batch passed away. He was three weeks old. I could not determine the cause of his death, but he was getting weaker and weaker for several hours leading up to his death. I tried force feeding him eggs and watering him and he swallowed. Nevertheless his little heart stopped beating - sad. Right before he died I discovered something stuck in his butt and gently pulled out what looked like two long grass blades one after another covered in excrement. May be this clue will help somebody help me figure out what happened!

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