2 hens dead, third exhibiting similar symptoms -- please help!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by emorrow, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. emorrow

    emorrow New Egg

    Aug 22, 2011

    I share the care of a flock of 10 hens (mixed breeds & ages) in urban Philadelphia. Last weekend the other caretakers found two hens lying sprawled out, one inside the coop, the other outside in the run. Both were about 3 years old. Both died within 30-40 minutes of being found. No visible wounds or trauma, no known poisons or unusual foods ingested, but of course we can't be 100% sure about that. The caretakers had noticed that at least one hen was looking a little under the weather for several days. Now, for the past 5-7 days, another hen, also about 3 years, has been seeming a little lackluster; she stands still with her eyes closed sometimes, her comb is a little droopy (one of the hens that died last weekend also had a very droopy comb). Still seems to be eating and pooping normally, but it's hard to tell as we're not observing them 24/7. Again, no visible signs of trauma. I'm worried this is something catching. We've also noticed that most of the hens don't seem to be laying much in the past week or so, especially the older ones -- seems like it could be connected.

    Chickens are bedded on straw inside the coop, and have an outdoor run that is woodchips/dirt (mud with all the rain we've been having). I did recently introduce three new, younger hens to the flock, after a couple days keeping them apart. New ones seem healthy, and came from a reliable person.

    Thanks for any help you can provide!
  2. LarryPQ

    LarryPQ Easter Hatch!!

    Jul 17, 2009
    Any discharge from noise/eyes? Snot bubbles? Rattling in the chest?

    It may be the heat, combined with other factors---you need to get out there at night with a flashlight, and check for mites & lice. Either can drain a chicken's energy until they stop eating and drinking, which can cause dehydration ==> make heat stroke a big problem.
  3. emorrow

    emorrow New Egg

    Aug 22, 2011
    We've actually had cool, extremely rainy and wet conditions for the past couple weeks, so I think I can rule out heatstroke. Didn't see any discharge, but I noticed today a couple of the other birds are sneezing -- bronchitis, or something else respiratory? All hens still seem to be eating and drinking. Are mites and lice easier to see at night with a flashlight? Just sort of comb through their feathers and shine the light and see what we see?

    Thanks for the reply.
  4. Chickenaddict

    Chickenaddict Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 19, 2008
    East Bethel MN
    If they are heavily infested with lice or mites you will be able to see them when looking at and around the hens vent, or under wings is another good hideout for them, I have had the most sucess looking around the vent area tho. Just kind of move the feathers around, if you don't see the bugs be sure to check the feather shafts to check for eggs. The eggs will look like dandruff buildup close to the base of the feather.

    There are a few different ways to treat them if they indeed have them. You can either dust them with a poultry dust or sevin. Adams flea and tick spray with precor in it works well too but both require repeated treatment in 10 days and if memory serves me right an egg withdrawl period of about 10 days- 2 weeks. OR Ivermectin pour on which not only delouses them but also worms them with no egg withdrawl time. You also need to gut the coop, nests ect and either use the adams spray (the kind for dogs) on the walls, roosts and in every crack and crevice imaginable and discard old bedding and add new, or you can use the poultry dust in the coop as well. I opt for the adams..... Less dust and no mess.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011

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