2 dead chickens...

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Hotspurious, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. Hotspurious

    Hotspurious Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm a backyard chicken farmer. 2 dogs have the run of our backyard and, as such, we don't have a varmint issues. Also, there's a cat that roams the grounds - so no mouse/rat population to speak of (anymore). The occasional gopher will wander in, but not too often.

    My chickens free range the yard and coexist - albeit at a distance - with the other animals.

    In the last 6 months we've lost 2 birds. In both cases, the chicken was found stretched out on her back - literally 'stretched out' from the tip of their talons to the the tip of their beak; talons Southbound while upturned beak Northbound. One died out in the yard and the other inside the chicken house itself.

    Upon inspection neither of them had sign of "exterior damage". Absolutely no damage to the bodies anywhere could be found. I went to far as to pluck most of the second bird to verify this.

    Nothing. Nada. El zippo.

    When the first bird died (a fat little bantam named Ms. Fluffermen) I looked to a local "chicken expert" who led me to believe that the breed was prone to strokes. I questioned the comment, but wrote the death off as such anyway.

    However, now... Well, now a second bird is dead (a.k.a. "Mrs. White"). She was a production red star and ruler of the roost; not exactly a fat little bantam afraid of its own shadow. Both birds ended up in the same death position: stretched out from the tip of their talons to the the tip of their beak.

    Any ideas what could be happening? Inquiring minds...
     
  2. taprock

    taprock Chillin' With My Peeps

    How old are they? Strange, hopefully someone else has ideas.
     
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    I would check the rest for symptoms of coccidiosis (lethargy, diarrhea, poor appetite, puffed up appearance) and look around for any dead animal/fish/rotted vegetation that could cause botulism. Coccidiosis is treated with Corid (amprollium) in the water for 5 days. Botulism can cause total body paralysis and death within 12-24 hours. Also, look for any old lead shot or lead paint chips from older homes that the chickens could have swallowed to cause lead poisoning. Check your feed for any mold. If any more die, I would send a fresh refrigerated body to the state vet for a necropsy. Here is a link for that: http://www.usaha.org/Portals/6/StateAnimalHealthOfficials.pdf
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
  4. Hotspurious

    Hotspurious Out Of The Brooder

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    Thx for the replies!

    Age: All are (would have been) 2 come March

    Wrt conditions, I've checked out the remaining 5 and all *appear* to be in good health; no obvious issues physically, no diarrhea, they charge me when I bring treats (like meal worms) so I think their appetites are pretty solid. Given the other animals wandering the property, theres not much chance of other dead animals. Dead fish are not an issue (no water close enough to me).

    Rotted vegetation? Didn't honestly think of that but will poke about and see what I find.

    All I could come up with as a possible cause of death was that 4 years ago we had someone come out to help with a gopher issue and maybe some of that poison lasted 4 years underground and somehow surfaced...? Does that even make sense or is that even a possibility that poisoned pellets would last in the ground 4 years? (Scratching my head.)

    We're going to whitewash the inside of the chicken house this weekend and scrub out everything associated with feeding/watering.
     
  5. LipsChicks

    LipsChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The poisoning for gophers makes sense. It sounds as though they were struggling to breathe. I think rodent poisons do something with internal organs including the lungs.
     
  6. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    The rotted vegetation that can cause botulism is the type found buried underground such as in a compost bed where air can't get to it. Even maggots that eat that (or the rotted animal carcasses) can contain the botulinum toxin. Many herbicides and pesticides can be toxic to chickens. It would be worth the cost of a necropsy to find the cause, if you lose another chicken.
     
  7. Hotspurious

    Hotspurious Out Of The Brooder

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    Good to know! They don't have access to our compost pile (different fenced-in area), so I think for the most part I can rule that out. I'll be sure to keep them off the pile moving forward.

    I'm still wondering about the 4 yr old gopher poison. I can't wrap my head around it being in the soil and something they'd eat after 4 yrs - given time and weather...

    It may be the answer nevertheless.

    Thx again!
     

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