2 of my 3 adult hens died this week, after the first came down with mystery illness

CaliChickenMama

Hatching
Oct 17, 2018
3
4
8
Hi all, I'm relatively new to raising hens myself. I've worked on a farm in the past with hens and have done quite a bit of research, but I'm not sure what to make of the current situation.

Almost two weeks ago, my Blue Wyandotte came down ill. She was off balance, not eating, had lost weight, and had one eyelid pulled up over her eye. We took her to our vet and he recommended an antibiotic which we gave daily for 10 days. Over the course of the antibiotic treatment, I also quarantined her and nursed her back to life with yogurt, fruit, seeds, etc. Her vent had become filthy, so I bathed her and trimmed her feathers. During this time, she had gone into the "splits" pose with one forward and the other back. She has been recovering and gaining back a bit of weight, but has not recovered the use of her legs yet.

I discovered last Friday that she and the other two hens had mites, so on Saturday I treated all 3 birds and the coop with permethrin. Figuring that her illness was due to the mites, I reintroduced her to her sisters in the coop after it was treated. By Monday AM, my Black Cochin, the smallest in our little flock had died overnight with the Blue Wyandotte laying by her side when I found them in the AM. The cochin hadn't been eating much and wouldn't allow me to syringe feed her yogurt or vitamins. On Tuesday my Black Wyandotte's comb started to appear discolored. I continued feeding her greek yogurt, mealworms, electrolytes, but found her dead in the coop this morning (Wednesday).

Besides the three adult hens, I am raising three chicks (now about 6 weeks old) in the garage. They haven't been in physical contact with the adult hens, but the Blue Wyandotte (& sole survivor of my adult hens) was in a separate crate in the garage during her quarantine.

Is it possible she has/had Marek's and passed it on to the others? If so, are the chicks at risk? Will the Blue Wyandotte recover use of her legs? (She is currently semi-mobile, using her right foot and left wing to scoot around.) Can mites take out a flock like this? I've also seen rodent droppings in the run -- could they have contracted something from a mouse/rat?

Please & thanks in advance for any recommendations.
 

CaliChickenMama

Hatching
Oct 17, 2018
3
4
8
Here's my Blue Wyandotte today, as I mentioned, with right foot forward & balancing on her left wing. She's surprisingly mobile.
IMG_4661.jpg
 

arrowti

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6 Years
Jul 20, 2014
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Is it possible to send one of the dead hens in for a necropsy? I don't know where you live so I can't offer any advice, but in the US many states have labs who will do them for cheap. They will confirm if it's mareks or not.

Unfortunately given the ease in which mareks spreads it is likely that the chicks have already been exposed to it if it is mareks.
 

Kiki

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I am sorry for your losses.

Yes it is highly possible that you have Marek's in your flock and yes the littles have already been exposed.

Are you in the US? Do you still have the dead birds? Are you willing to send them for a necropsy or open them yourself?
 

CaliChickenMama

Hatching
Oct 17, 2018
3
4
8
I am sorry for your losses.

Yes it is highly possible that you have Marek's in your flock and yes the littles have already been exposed.

Are you in the US? Do you still have the dead birds? Are you willing to send them for a necropsy or open them yourself?


I am in California. I still have the one who died this morning, though I can't sign up for opening her up myself...
 

Eggcessive

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Apr 3, 2011
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So sorry for your losses this week. Mareks of course could be suspected, but I would be very concerned losing 2 hens with the other one being lame suddenly. Some possibilities would be chemical or plant poisoning, botulism toxin from a decayed animal, fish, or vegetation that has been underground or underwater, some type of automotive leakage, heavy metal poisoning, and others. A contagious virus such as Newcastles or avian influenza might be possible.

Contact your state vet first thing in the morning, and try to get a necropsy. Once free of charge, I think it costs about $20 now for a necropsy in CA. Here is a good link about necropsy:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/how-to-send-a-bird-for-a-necropsy-pictures.799747/
 

MANNA-PRO

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