Originally Posted by ronott1
Originally Posted by Wickedchicken6
I'm really sorry to hear it's one of your Chanteclers!
I'm the other side of the coin and I realize what I'm going to say is harsh, but I'm just putting it out there anyway for everyone to think about.
(And even when I told myself no more early am posting )
I have a line of 10 (originally 11; 6 hens, 5 roosters) Silkie crosses that we got as week old chicks from one farm. I had one chick show a tilted head late last summer. I did get chicky vitamins from the vet but before I gave them the tilted head disappeared.
Fast forward to December, I think that's when I mentioned the wry neck Silkie X rooster I had. He'd respond to larger doses of vitamins, but would regress if put back into general population. He lost weight, continued regressing and I finally put him down when it was clear he wasn't getting any better. I had one chick from one of the Silkie cross females (sister sibling) hatch in the NYE HAL that showed wry neck. (I put it down) I now have two Silkie cross roosters showing clear signs of wry neck after being stressed when I had them penned separately in a smaller coop by themselves before we got the coop renovations done.
So as I suspected in December, I would consider these Silkies to have a heritable genetic defect, possibly with in the utilization of vitamins/minerals which predisposes them to getting wry neck. I've been reading as much as I can about wry neck; I don't have any evidence of injury or otherwise. I don't believe they have vaulted skulls...they're crossed birds and not bred for the poof.
I also have 4 purebred non-related Silkies who have not shown anything.
Anyone who has followed the HALS since December has read that I have not given my birds a balanced diet this winter. Every other bird has performed beautifully, which is what I want to see. My roosters maintained great fertility. The hens began laying young (5 months, both EE's & OEGBs) and the older girls through molt, with only short amounts of daylight on an unbalanced diet when I didn't even want them laying...lol. The chickens haven't eaten each other or developed any other problems...other than these Silkie x's who were showing signs when they were on a balanced diet last year.
If you are a breeder, even though you may feed a balanced diet...the people you sell chicks to may not feed a balanced diet. The very last thing you want is people having issues with your chicks if problems show up down the road.
A quick story: I cannot convey to you as a livestock breeder how many people keep progeny from animals who have problems, like vaginal prolapse (a heritable trait.) I've been a breeder of Katahdin sheep for 16 years and I've had extensive experience correcting (culling) other breeders very poor choices in keeping stock. I started with 4 unrelated lines; one line of females (IGB), 4 out of 10 females prolapsed. The females from the other 3 lines did not prolapse at all. I took the entire IGB line of females, plus the ram I never got to use, out of purebred production and raised slaughter stock lambs only that were shipped straight to slaughter. I had another "breeder" contact me to buy this line of females because she wanted to outcross with another sheep breed. Of course I refused as any reputable breeder would. A neighbor of ours purchased about 20 females from this breeder 3 years down the road and ended up giving everything away because EVERY female prolapsed. I've corrected prolapsing with calcium/vitamin injections (helps with muscle tone/strength) if a ewe has issues with prolapsing. But that female is no good to me as a breeding animal if she can't properly utilize what she needs on her own.
My idea is cull the problem and you won't have problems.(survival of the fittest genetics) If it's a pet for yourself, it's a different story.
But if this chick wouldn't survive without your help, it probably shouldn't survive to carry on those genetics. There are exceptions of course.
But this is just food for thought. (And I don't mean to sound SO serious...lol)
I understand culling for genetic issues but you are culling for feeding poor nutrition.
That seems to need more thought. On the surface it does not sound like the correct approach.
Another thing is that silkies and other breeds with vaulted skulls can have a problem with brain injury. Sometimes star gazing is a brain injury and not a nutrition issue. In those cases time will help heal the injury and the vitamins help grow the nerves.
Thanks for posting your thoughts!
Whew! I'm finally at home long enough (and with a rested enough brain) to reply.
Ron, I completely respect your view. I do like the idea of debating this because thought and discussion is good regarding these types of things.
But I respectfully wish to disagree and here's why... (and this is meant for anyone reading this, and not just Ron...lol)
I looked back in the BYC HAL thread and found it was approximately Jan 16 when I mentioned I had switched to grain for my chickens feed. I had purchased a bag of the additive to mix with the grain to make it a complete feed. I did use it for a while but I felt that they were wasting it so I stopped. But even without the additive I am "'close" to a chickens needs with the feeds I'm using. I did look all this up last fall when we combined our red prosso millet to see if it was safe for my chickys. It is a surprisingly good feed. I had found a table comparing the grains I use but I can't find that darn table now. But the variety of grains I am using covers a lot of the bases. The chickens also ate two second cut alfalfa bales. Their diet's not perfect, but respectable...and while I can't say it's a balanced diet, I'm close. So I wouldn't say it's poor feed, just not as completely balanced as the store bought type.
In saying this, I also don't want chickens that can't thrive unless they are on a perfect food. I don't have performance based chickens that I'm pushing, such as caged egg layers or meat chickens raised in a bio secure controlled environment. I have a backyard assortment of mixed heritage breeds that once upon a time must have lived solely on outdoor foraging and grains. I don't want a high maintenance chicken. I want them to sustain themselves the same way they always have. If I want better performance...the time and effort should be put into it by selecting the very best and only the very best all around producing chickens for meat or for eggs. I can also feed a store bought feed.
Do I expect a chicken to perform as well on regular feed as a perfectly balanced feed? Probably not.
Do I expect a chicken to still perform well on a decent, well rounded diet. Absolutely!
Even if I didn't have a great diet for a small amount of time, I still would not expect a chicken to develop something as severe as wry neck, or the like. Perhaps if a chicken was fed a diet that was very deficient over a longer period of time, I would expect this.
I expected that I might see the following:
1) decreased laying
2) poorer quality eggs shells
3) change in behavior, possibly feather picking or similar behaviors
I did not see any of the above. I assumed these would be the first signs of deficiency.
I had hoped at that time that they would stop or decease their laying and utilize the high energy food to keep warm.
If I had chickens from different lines or many chickens showing signs, then I would be thinking I have a serious flock issue. But this is one distinct line out of 5 lines that have consistently shown to have problems with wry neck. I did have a huge wreck with my sheep which was 100% my fault; a deficiency in iodine. Two later born ram lambs bred the flock before we weaned them (which was still far earlier than breed book guideline requirements, but obviously not soon enough) We didn't realize the ewes were bred...and they hadn't received a sufficient amount of iodide salt/mineral. It was across the board with the majority of my ewes.
In addition to the prolapsing in our sheep that I mentioned earlier, I've also dealt with false ring womb, thiamine deficiency, allergies, eye infection, pregnancy toxemia, poor hooves, questionable udders and a really serious genetic defect passed on from one ram to his females where every ewe prolapsed their intestines when they got close to lambing. In our cattle herd (which we've taken care of for 25+ years but only acquired in 2011) we've dealt with poor udders, poor feet, prolapsing, peaky back in a line of shorthorns and over sized birth weights.
I've asked a lot of questions (prior to the internet) and no one could give definite answers so I did a lot of experimenting and keeping of defective traits. In all of the above, not once did I ever get any satisfactory results. Not once. Anything I ever tried to improve upon by breeding, the issue out came back to bite me in the butt. I kept offspring and their offspring and so on from the best of the best of the prolapser's for 12 years until coyotes got the last IGB ewe from that line. As I culled it became apparent entire lines were affected by recessive traits even with things such as eye infections. I found things such as thiamine deficiency, false ring womb, even prolapsing seemed tied to the inability of that animal and that animal's line to properly utilize certain vitamins/minerals... basically a predisposition to have developing a deficiency. And that is what I believe with this line of chickens. It's not that they're Silkies, or that it's breed related. I believe it just happens to be related chickens from one particular farm.
If all I wanted was eating eggs, it wouldn't matter so much if they have this. I would deal with the problem as it arose. But I wish to breed and sell chicks. In my way of thinking, why would I keep offspring from chickens having problems within a related line or that has had problems themselves...when I can breed stock from perfectly healthy stock kept under the same conditions. Up to this point I've kept everything I've hatched. I do not wish wry neck on anyone so this particular line of birds will not be propagated any further. The chicks I have from them now will be given to someone who will not be breeding them, possibly my nieces or maybe my past co worker who understands the whole genetic aspect. The roosters will be dispatched from the flock, in what form, I'm not sure yet. And as far as the eggs I've been collecting, I will not be setting all the eggs. (I just had to say that...lol)
Here is a really good read on nutrition and management for anyone who is interested.
I also am aware of the vaulted skull issue with some breeds. It's a hot topic to discuss so all I will say is that I agree with you that if such birds receive such an injury, then yes, treating it as you mentioned would be the thing to do. I am breeding birds for toughness, cold tolerance, low maintenance and the ability to free range and forage effectively and for well rounded exceptional traits. Vaulted skulls is not a trait I ever expect to deal with.
All of this meant to be food for thought and I respect everyone's choices. I've taken a lot from beef information and now from the internet...but most of our practices have derived from our own experiences. I certainly don't mean to sound harsh and heartless. One cow has one calf in nine months. A ewe can have 1-5 lambs in 5 months. Having one chicken have a weakness or defect is one bird. Raising offspring, even from a hen, can mean 170-300+ offspring in a year that may carry the defect. You can see where I'm going with this. That can be a whole lot of heartache for you or others.
Here's an interesting read close to how I'm seeing things. Thank you to everyone who has read this. (I do apologize for the novel length piece...lol)
Edited by Wickedchicken6 - 4/2/16 at 12:05am