Young flock of Buff Orps. About 7 mos old, Just started laying about 2 months ago. 6 hens, 1 rooster and an old red Sex Link that no longer gives eggs. They have been healthy and laying. Just yesterday I got 5 eggs. Everything looked normal yesterday when I put them up for the evening.The normal routine is : they are in the pen until about noon and everybody has finished laying then they are let out into the yard (one acre that they share with the goats) until close to dusk. They have access to a feeder of Purina layer, and fresh water. Today I go to let them into the yard and only one BO hen, the RSL and Roo are in the pen and wanting out. The other 5 BO hens are in the coop, feathers all over the coop and they are barely responsive to me being there and messing with them. They are laying on the ground and will not get up. Looking all frumpy feathered, eyes closed but breathing. Opening the eyes when I have contact with them but closing when I quit. Can't find any trauma indication, no blood, scratches, missing patches of feathers. Just the lots of feathers in the coop. The only other thing I can think of as out of the ordinary is that I gave them about 1/2 gallon of fresh goats milk yesterday. First time I have given it to them. But I drank some of the same milk with no ill effects. Temperature today is in the low 80's so that should not be a factor. I am at a loss as to what may be suddenly going on and desperately seeking answers. Anybody out there have any suggestions?
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Lost two yesterday evening then I had to do a Mothers day event last night. This morning I have 3 that are alert but don't want to stand and one that had passed on. These were the ones left in the coop last night. The Red sex link and one BO that were the only hens standing yesterday evening stayed out with the rooster. The RSL was dead this morning and the BO was on the ground, unresponsive but alive. The rooster attacked me this morning (and with more ferocity than I had ever seen before) when I went into the yard. I have noticed he has been getting more aggressive as of late but he is a young'un and I was thinking me and him were about to come to an agreement. Maybe not and as Eggcessive says above, he may be the cause of all this misery. Me thinks he may hit the stewpot this evening.
I am headed to the feed store to look at vitamins and electrolyte to see if I can get the ladies back on their feet. Anyone else have any more advice before I do to the roos something I may regret.
One thing I just thought of is that the combs of the hens that died, I could tell they were about to pass (after the first one that is ) the comb started to turn purple. I am guessing that is a sign of the respiratory / cardiac systems shutting down and not so much a "cause" sign?
The feed store is remodeling and the only thing being sold is the large stuff, feed and hay stuff in the barn next door. So I could not get electrolytes from them and was told to get Pedialyte from Wally world. Which is what I did, along with some baby multi vitamins. The vitamins I put 4 doses in a cup of hot water to mix up and will add that to the electrolyte in a 1 gallon waterer. Am I going to poison the rest if my hens with this concoction? Should I dilute this mixture any? I only got a quart of pedialyte.
The Pedialyte is fine, and is used undiluted. Gatorade can be used. The baby vitamins shouldn't be too strong in your mixture. In the future, you can use a vitamin B complex tablet dissolved in the water. Pick up a packet of poultry electrolytes and vitamins for the future. Here is a homemade electrolyte recipe that you make make with whatever ingredients you already have at home:
1/2 teaspoon salt substitute* which is potassium chloride--leave out if you don't have it
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 gallon water
I would avoid goat milk until this is ironed out.
Any sources of poison or pesticides? e.g. do they have access to any storage area? Was the coop/run ever used for another purpose besides Chooks? Is the run / yardage fertilized with anything except natural supplements? Just brainstorming...
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