The Flock: 38 … well, 37 now … chickens. Mostly a barnyard mix, with small sub-flocks of silkies, polish, frizzle/sizzles, and my lovely barely adolescent barnevelders. They free-range during the day, and at night are confined in small pens, more or less according to size and temperament. I also have three adolescent turkeys, and ten ducks. They also free-range. Finally, we have hundreds of wild turkeys running all over the place, all the time.
The Feed: They get a mix of layer crumble, scratch grains, household scraps, and old milk, from our Jersey cow, that will not get used up in time. The milk is raw, and often curdled, sometimes very curdled. I have understood that the probiotic benefits do not diminish with the curdling process, and that it is not dangerous to feed this to them. I hope that is correct.
The Problem: Today is Monday. On Friday evening, I noticed several black wart-like bumps on the combs and around the eyes of three of my chickens, and one rooster. They seemed otherwise healthy and alert. No other visible symptoms among my flock.
Saturday saw a family crisis, and I did not do other than feed and house the chickens. I did not check the bumps, nor watch for other symptoms that day.
Sunday (yesterday) I had lots of old milk, because we had been too busy to drink or sell it. I mixed it up with their layer mix, scratch and scraps, and fed it as a mash. They loved it. It had a very strong smell, like over-ripe cheese. However, it did not smell rotten.
That night, I researched the bumps here, concluded based on remarks and photos, that my flock has avian pox, and that, except for watching for secondary infections, I would need to simply wait it out, and nurse them as I could.
In the evening, yesterday, I saw that one of my young barnevelders, a pullet, was lethargic, and standing shivering, with her wings dangling. When I picked her up, I found that, though her lovely feathers made her appear luxuriously fat, in fact, she was skin and bones. She did not have any of the bumps I had noticed in the other chickens. I suspected worms, as we had trouble with round worms a couple of months ago. We lost a Jersey Giant to them, in much the same way: sudden lethargy, leading to a discovery of extreme emaciation. At that time, we wormed the flock with a broad-spectrum wormer.
I brought the sick barnevelder inside, wormed her, and gave her an injection of LA 300, for the secondary infection I was sure she must have developed. She did not even notice when I gave the shot. About three hours later, she suddenly leapt up, tried to run away, but could not get her footing, vomited a great deal of yucky stuff, and died. I noticed that her corpse had a yeasty smell, in addition to the vomit/poop smell.
About two hours ago, I noticed that her hatch-mate, a cockerel (with the blue gene, alas!) was standing in the same posture. However, his “butt” is all inflamed, and was encrusted with a great deal of white feces. Also, he continues to strain, as though he is trying to poop. I thought that he might have a blockage of some sort, so I gave him a nice, long, warm bath. He is drying very nicely, sitting in front of a space heater. However, he is breathing with the hitching gaspy-sort of breaths one sees in a child who is crying too hard. Each indrawn breath is accomplished with several catches, and his lower-beak trembles. He exhales smoothly, but not normally.
He, too, is emaciated. He has only two sores, and no bumps. One sore is on his elbow, and looks like chafing. The other is a lesion on his anus. (Is it an anus, in a chicken?) I attach a vulgar photo of that ghastly zone.
I have not given him anything, for fear that my treatment is what ended the life of my pullet, last night. I have available LA300, penicillin, ivermectin, small dog wormer, some water-soluble antibiotic that indicates it is to treat coccidiosis, respiratory infections, etc., chick-boost vitamin/electrolyte stuff, and regular chicken vitamins. I have the equipment to get any or all of this goo him. What I do NOT have, is the 50% upfront cash the vet will demand. It has been a month of crises, and we are flat.
Any constructive advice or thoughts will be most welcome. I would take him to the vet, if I possibly could. I cannot. I will have to get by with what is on hand, and the advice you give. I cannot possibly thank you enough for any guidance you can offer.
Patience, a scared chicken-mom.