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2 chickens dead in similar circumstances in 2 months. Advice would be appreciated.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by norwichred, Nov 18, 2014.

  1. norwichred

    norwichred In the Brooder

    Oct 13, 2012
    I'm a newbie to chicken owning. I got my first chickens about two and a half years ago, point of lay Bantams. They did really really well, very happy, and laying every day. I built them a special area at the bottom of the garden, and gave them regular run around the garden.

    Their egg laying slowed down and I didn't want to cull them. So I inteoduced two new hens. Was relatively painless and after a few weeks of introducing all four were laying happily.

    Then, suddenly one of the new hens, I found in the corner of the run, head down on the ground, as if she'd just fallen forward and she wasn't moving. She was still alive - I picked her up and I couldn't believe her weight. There was literally nothing to her, almost as if she had no insides. Was horrible. I put her down on the grass and she just pitched forward again. She was barely breathing so I culled her as it seemed the kindest thing to do. Her cone had never gone up in the time I had her, although the other hen I got at the same time the cone was fine.

    Other chickens seemed to be fine and all continued well, although my old timers were only laying one every two or three days and the new hen laying two every three so egg production way down.

    About three weeks ago I inteoduced another two point of lay bantams into the flock. Again went pretty well, although they're not fully integrated yet.

    Went out there on Sunday, and one of my old timers was in exactly the same position, in the corner, head down. Took her out, put her on the grass and again she pitched forward. This time though, she had plenty of weight to her. Didn't want to cull her so took her into a box in the warm in the living room. She died over night, and just seemed not to be able to move at all.

    I'd be devastated if I thought that something I hadn't done in looking after them has caused this, as I'm not experienced.

    Any advice you could give me would be really appreciated.

  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    There's a lot of things it could be, no way to know for sure without having a necropsy done. However, any time you bring in new birds you have a high risk of either the new birds or your existing birds being exposed to a strain of cocci that is new to them and causing them to come down with a case of coccidiosis. So when integrating new birds into the flock it's always something to be concerned about. That would just be my first suspicion since it's often a fast killer.

    Another thing to consider is parasites. Have your birds been on a regular deworming program? Have you checked them carefully for mites? These things can weaken a bird and cause loss of weight and body condition until a bird just suddenly dies.
  3. norwichred

    norwichred In the Brooder

    Oct 13, 2012
    I'im going to get some deworming feed pellets this weekend as I have to be honest and say no they haven't ever been dewormed. I wonder if it could be that.......

    It was weird that the first birds cone never ever went up.....,
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    You would be better off to get some liquid Safeguard goat dewormer, Safeguard paste for horses, or Valbazen. Dose each bird directly and repeat the dose in 10 days. Dosing with pellets is very imprecise and there's no way to know how much each bird eats. If you dose each bird directly then you know they got exactly what they need.
    1 person likes this.
  5. lalaland

    lalaland Crowing

    Sep 26, 2008
    Pine County MN
    Hi Norwhich,
    I'm sorry to hear about your hens.
    There are way too many possibilities to consider in what is causing the deaths.

    If another hen dies, you might want to try doing a necropsy to help you narrow down the possibilities. Another option is to have the necropsy done by the state lab - check with a vet to find out where that is - usually at a university ag center. That can be expensive....maybe 80 bucks or more, so learning to do your own will help you in the future. Its a messy thing to do, but you will learn each time you do one.

    You could take droppings to the vet for a fecal test - if you are going to worm them, do some searching here on byc so you can be sure you are worming correctly and that you followup with the second round. Worm overload could cause the weight loss, but so can many other things. Although some people worm routinely one or two times a year, many others don't and have no problems in the flock.

    It is very possible that something has been introduced into your flock since it sounds like you didn't quarantine. That might be another thing to learn about before you bring any other hens into your flock - also by reading and searching on byc.

    Have you seen anything in the droppings? Blood? worms?
  6. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Free Ranging Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Sorry for your losses.The two sick hens seemed to be presenting with wry neck or torticolis. It is a neurological symptom which can be a sign of Mareks disease, a head injury, vitamin deficiencies (vitamin E and selenium,) and from certain infectious diseases that cause brain inflammation (Newcastles, encephalitis, late stage fowl cholera, and coryza. It may be hereditary. I have also seen it happen right at the point of death, probably from a lack of oxygen to the brain. Silkies and polish chickens seem to get it often due to the vaulted skull in some of them. A necropsy by your state vet should be done to find an exact cause, but with weight loss and wry neck, Mareks could be a possibility. Here are several good links to read about Mareks, just to learn about it:

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