2 dead chickens in less than a week with no signs of illness

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by kevincarp77, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. kevincarp77

    kevincarp77 New Egg

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    Feb 21, 2014
    I have a small flock of chickens. I had 12 chickens that I got as chicks last april and have raised them since. I haven't had any problems and they have always been good layers. I haven't changed up their routine at all and then this past week I have lost two of the 12. The first chicken I found on the floor of the hen house extremely lethargic and it died within 10-15 minutes of finding it. The next was this morning and I found it dead on the floor of the Hen house. I have always closed the hen house at night to eliminate predators and the weather conditions have been milder than we have had last month (been above 0 and was getting to -30ish a month ago). I feed and water them the same as I always have. After the 1st died I tried to watch them closer. There were no symptoms of anything noticeable to me. I was told not to clean out my hen house in the wintertime as it helps keep the heat in. Because they were both found in the morning as I was opening the hen house to the run, I am wondering if there are fumes or something in the house that would cause them to die. This is my first flock of chickens and I tried to do my research so they would have a good life. My kids (8 and 5) love these chickens and play with them almost daily. I hate to see them die off one by one if there is something I can do to prevent it. Let me know if you have any suggestions on the care, or any medicines or supplements that I might be able to provide to ensure I don't lose anymore. Thanks. Colorado Backyard Chicken Family
     
  2. boyswillbeboys

    boyswillbeboys Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 19, 2013
    What kind of ventalation do you have in place when the coop is closed up?
     
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC. Sorry for your loss. A lot of people use the deep litter method in their coops, but the litter should be raked and aerated every day, then clean dry litter or pine shavings need to be applied weekly. There should be no ammonia fumes, and good ventilation overhead is needed. That said, I think you have some illness going around. Their could be poison or botulism, crop impaction from eating hay or straw, egg binding, coccidiosis, or a disease such as Mareks. Sometimes the symptoms are there to see, but we don't notice them. Coccidiosis symptoms would be lethargy, huddling, not eating, diarrhea (sometimes with blood,) and ruffled neck feathers. Botulism kills quickly, and comes from eating decayed animal carcasses, maggots, or vegetation that has been buried such as in a compost bed. Symptoms could death, or leg, wing, and neck weakness. Are the crops full and hard, or are there any runny noses or eye swelling noticeable? An autopsy or chicken necropsy can be performed by contacting your state vet here: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_dis_spec/poultry/participants.shtml
     
  4. kevincarp77

    kevincarp77 New Egg

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    Feb 21, 2014
    Due to our extreme cold temps at night, sometimes in the -30s, I don't have any ventilation at night as I was afraid the cold would be bad for the chickens.

    We normally let the chickens out in the yard to freely go where they want. The snow has recently melted off and so maybe they are eating something in the yard they shouldn't. They never get into the garage or anywhere that there is something not natural that could hurt them if they eat it. However, we do have a small compost pile that we haven't added anything to for probably 6mths at least. Also with the snow melting off I have seen the chickens scratching around in the grass that is still brown and dead since it is still winter here. We do feed the chickens scraps, but never anything that is moldy...mostly just leftovers and such.

    Since the coop isn't really ventilated, do you think the fumes from their waste is just now building up to the point where it is toxic? I can clean the hen house and then keep the window cracked if that is the problem. It does hit my nose pretty hard in the morning when I open the house to let them out.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Yes, I know that it can be tough dealing with those low temperatures. We have only had -6 a couple of nights, and even with a little overhead ventilation to let out moisture, we still had a couple of frostbitten combs. The build up of fumes can cause to be more susceptible to respiratory diseases. I would just give everyone a thorough check when they go to roost--check crops, check for mites and lice, listen for any coughing or sneezing, and look around their ranging area for anything poisonous they can get into.
     

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