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New Chicken Owner- Sick Chicken

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone, 

 

My husband and I became first-time chicken owners in June. We lost one of our chickens about 3 weeks after we got her- one morning she was unable to stand on her legs and flapped her wings to slightly move around. We separated her and brought her in the garage for 3 weeks but she just become too sick and emaciated. We really don't know what happened.. 

 

Our other chicken has fared quite well on her own since then until about a week ago. We live in Minnesota and have gotten some unseasonably cold weather already. I noticed one morning that she seemed very off balance but brushed it off to "it's probably just a bit cold for her". The second day it happened, we decided to put in a heating source. She stopped jumping up to get to the coop in the evening and wouldn't come down in the mornings. I kept noticing her off-balance tendencies, hardly moving, not going up to the coop and she seemed to be sleeping a lot.

 

We have now been keeping her inside the garage with a small run area and a wire dog cage. She has a roosting bar, and that is where she spends most of her day- just sleeping. She will drink if I bring her to water but she hasn't been eating much the last two days. I've tried oatmeal (which she usually LOVES) and if she does eat it.. it takes a few hours before she'll even start. She has seemed to have lost weight within the last week and does not seem like herself. This morning, her droppings were very watery, white and with small white pieces.

 

Any idea to what may be going on with her? I'd love any insight. The first day we got our chickens I noticed they had small critters on them (likely mites), perhaps she still has them? I thought maybe coccidiosis, but I could be off. Is it okay to treat a chicken for a potential disease or is it best to have a diagnosis? I just don't want to lose another chicken- she's one of my favorite parts of the day and it's hard to see her rapidly decline. 

 

Any thoughts would be wonderful! Thanks so much. :)

post #2 of 15

Hi there minnesotaisab

 

I am so sorry to hear of your loss and also that your remaining girl is unwell.

 

I am definitely not an expert when it comes to what ails chickens but hopefully my comments and bumping of this thread might attract the attention of someone who is.

 

I do know that an infestation of lice and/or mites can kill a chicken.  Did you treat your girl for mites when you noticed them?

 

Also, some external parasites can survive off the host for 6 months or so.  When your girl sadly died in the garage, if she had lice or mites, they would have wandered off, looking for a new host.  So, your current girl may have picked up an additional number.

 

Worms can also be an issue.

 

I do not want to freak you out but something else that comes to mind is Marek’s as this can cause balance/neurological issues.

 

Chickens are very good at hiding illness, sometimes until it is too late and sometimes only a necropsy will give us a definitive diagnosis.  So, if we can not get them to a Vet, there are times we have to treat for what we think it is without that diagnosis. 

 

The below are a couple of poop charts which might help and also some links to hopefully some helpful information:

 

http://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?topic=17568.0

 

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/whats-scoop-on-chicken-poop-digestive.html

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/mites-lice-treatment-and-prevention

 

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/poultry-lice-and-mites-identification.html

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/internal-parasites-parasitic-worms-in-chickens

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq

 

I hope that you are able to help her and she fully recovers :hugs

Bambrook Bantams; Home to Cilla, Dusty, LuLu, Blondie and Crystal

 

'There is No snooze button on a chicken who wants breakfast'

 

'Until One Has Loved An Animal, Part Of Their Soul Remains Unawakened'

 

My Chicken Page: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/bambrook-bantams

 

Teila's Tales from the Coop: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1109051/teilas-tales-from-the-coop

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Bambrook Bantams; Home to Cilla, Dusty, LuLu, Blondie and Crystal

 

'There is No snooze button on a chicken who wants breakfast'

 

'Until One Has Loved An Animal, Part Of Their Soul Remains Unawakened'

 

My Chicken Page: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/bambrook-bantams

 

Teila's Tales from the Coop: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1109051/teilas-tales-from-the-coop

Reply
post #3 of 15

Im not surprised her dropping are  white watery if she is only drinking water.How does her crop feel at night?What are you feeding them a nutritional deficiency may cause paralysis?

 
 
 
~Isaac 
 
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~Isaac 
 
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post #4 of 15

If you were to start reading up on all the diseases chickens can get, it would both scare and depress you. And even if you were aware of poultry diseases, it's still very difficult to diagnose what ails your chicken.

 

When you have white, watery poop combined with the inability to stand and walk, you can be safe in assuming your hen has an infection. In healthy chickens with strong immune systems, they more often than not are able to fight off the infection by themselves and get better without treatment.

 

But when the chicken seems to be getting worse, not improving, and since you've mentioned the possibility of mite infestation, I think it's safe to assume your hen may have a weak immune system and is going to require an antibiotic to get better. There's always the possibility that a virus is involved, and there's reason to think there might be since you've already lost a hen who had similar symptoms. But, diagnosing that would be very difficult, so I would treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic and keep my fingers crossed that your hen has a bacterial infection and that she will respond to treatment.

 

You will probably need to call a vet and ask them to prescribe an antibiotic for your hen. I use amoxicillin or penicillin. Your vet may have another recommendation.

 

You need to address the mites. Your coop is probably infested and your hen is being severely weakened by them. If you noticed "bugs" at one time and never treated for them, you can bet they're still around. I recommend Elector PSP. It's pricey but the 8 ounce bottle will treat your coop and run and hen, and you'll have enough left to last several years. If you can't afford it, there's always permethrin powder and it's easy to find and cheap.

post #5 of 15

Hi

 

Firstly your hen needs to be brought into a warm environment. If she is not eating, she will not have anything inside her to keep her warm. She is on a downward spiral and the first thing to do to try to halt it is to warm her up. Bring her into the house and put her somewhere nice and warm or put her on a heat pad or under a heat lamp in the garage and a cardboard box will insulate her from draughts and keep her warmer than a cage. It could take several hours for her to start to respond to being warmed up. Sometimes a warm bath and blow dry can speed up the process but with sick birds it can be too much of a shock to their system, so a heat pad would probably be the best bet. Once she appears more responsive to her surroundings, then that is the time to start offering her warm water with electrolytes and vitamins and then warm soft mushy food. Bread soaked in warm water with a drop or two of chick saver on it might tempt her to start with but you will want to get some higher protein food into her once her appetite returns. Scrambled egg or cat food are good moist options for that. If she has lost a lot of weight it will take a long time to put that back on assuming you can get her eating again, so you may need to accept that you have an extra house guest for Christmas! 

My worry would be Marek's Disease too based on her balance issue and the untimely death of her pal, but I think treating her for coccidiosis may not be a bad idea just in case. The medication for it, amprolium, is not an antibiotic and has quite a mild action I believe. It is best to follow up the treatment with vitamin B complex supplement, but first get her warm and hydrated.

 

Good luck and keep us posted

 

Barbara     

post #6 of 15

Yes, I also am worried about this hen being infected with a virus, either Marek's or lymphotic leucosis. The fact that the other hen also had similar symptoms indicates this is a real possibility. The implications are dire if it's one of these viruses. If this hen dies, it's imperative that our OP get a necropsy on the dead hen since the virus may still inhabit the premises and if new chickens are introduced, they too will become infected.

 

It's also a possibility that a virus is carried by this sick hen and it's weakening the immune system, resulting in a vulnerability to bacterial infection, and it's the bacterial infection that's making the hen sick with these symptoms. I repeat, it's a possibility, not a certainty. It's possible for a  chicken to carry a virus and not be symptomatic, ever.

 

This is why you treat the symptoms in the absence of a diagnosis. I'm not a vet. I do not have a vet in my area who is schooled in avian medicine. Therefore, when I have a sick chicken, I treat the symptoms. More often than not, this strategy works.

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone, 

 

Thanks for your helpful advice. Unfortunately, our chicken passed away this afternoon while I was away at work. We are hoping to bring her in to have a necropsy completed to potentially see what the issue was. We bought the chickens from the same breeder as some friends and they had very similar issues when our first passed away in July. 


Thanks again for the support. It is so appreciated.

post #8 of 15

Aaaw, minnesotaisab I am so very sorry to hear that :hugs

Bambrook Bantams; Home to Cilla, Dusty, LuLu, Blondie and Crystal

 

'There is No snooze button on a chicken who wants breakfast'

 

'Until One Has Loved An Animal, Part Of Their Soul Remains Unawakened'

 

My Chicken Page: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/bambrook-bantams

 

Teila's Tales from the Coop: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1109051/teilas-tales-from-the-coop

Reply

Bambrook Bantams; Home to Cilla, Dusty, LuLu, Blondie and Crystal

 

'There is No snooze button on a chicken who wants breakfast'

 

'Until One Has Loved An Animal, Part Of Their Soul Remains Unawakened'

 

My Chicken Page: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/bambrook-bantams

 

Teila's Tales from the Coop: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1109051/teilas-tales-from-the-coop

Reply
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the support. It's difficult to think about trying to start another flock in the spring because our two chickens passed away so quickly and unexpectedly. :(  There's so much to learn about taking care of chickens and quite frankly, I feel like an unfit mother.. I am praying the next time around things will much better for our new girls. We will see what the necropsy says. Thanks again for the support.

post #10 of 15

I'm so, so sorry your hen died. No, you are not a bad chicken mom. Do not even think that! I suspect your hens were both carrying a virus since you say others have also been affected in similar fashion. They probably were infected when you got them. You are extremely wise to get a necropsy done. Hold off on any and all plans for a future flock until after you get the results back. That will dictate what you will be able to do.

 

Please come back and update your thread. You will also be helping others by following up. 

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