7 chickens with head shaking and no other symptoms

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by cabot, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. cabot

    cabot Songster

    1) What type of bird , age and weight. seven 7 month old pullets ( ee, australorp, delaware,columbian wyandotte,SS, welsummer, barred rock). Hatched april 12 : hatchery birds
    2) What is the behavior, exactly. : active and alert but all are shaking their heads, no nasal discharge, no respiratory distress, no wheezing...
    3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms? 2-3 days since a few days after moving them from a large outdoor paddock to a 14X16 stall, bedded with pine shavings. Moved them in due to hawk losses in the last 10 days of 2 broodmates.
    4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms? all seven, fairly equally
    5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma. NO
    6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.: wondering if stress could cause this. Closed flock with no exposure to other chickens. Some wild bird exposure when in the fenced paddock.
    7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all. : all eat layer pellets, occasional handful of BOSS, had been grazing as welluntil 4 days ago
    8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc. Normal poops
    9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far? no treatment, they seem otherwise healthy
    10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet? Will talk to avian vet if needed
    11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
    12) Describe the housing/bedding in use : until 4 days ago they were in a 1/5 acre grassy, fenced in paddock and locked in a 4X8 coop with excellent ventilation and bedded with shavings at night. Lost 2 to a hawk in last 10 days so moved the rest into a stall( 14X16') in a well ventilated 3 stall barn, clean and not excessively dusty (but more so than the paddock of course). Bedding is pine shavings( same as in the coop). Hay in the nest boxes. lights are on from 7 am to 8 pm.

    None of the birds appear sick, fluffed etc. There is no nasal discharge, eyes are clear and bright, feathers are sleek and I have not seen any mites or lice. No gaping. Eating but a bit less since confined. Crops appear normal with food in them, not overly large. The SS and barred rock have started a molt with loss of feathers and many pin feathers on head and neck, The others do not appear to be molting. Egg production is down to 0-2/day but I attributed that to the loss of my best layers (of course) and decreasing daylight and stress....

    I'm wondering if they may be sick or if this could be a stress issue

    Thank you for any help!
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010

  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I can tell you what that is when my chickens do it: the Northern Fowl mite.

    They shake their heads when there get to be too many mites. Then after I treated with Eprinex and Sevin Dust (and retreated with Sevin Dust), the shaking went away.

    They shake them as if trying to shake a bug off their necks (about every 5-15 seconds).

    Does that sound like your problem?

    The reason I found out what it was is that the bugs were jumping on ME and biting me. I identified one and now I bag my clothes and keep in the garage after caring for the chickens (yes, still [​IMG] ). Also I shower after dealing with my chicken houses.

    I have always had the habit of looking the birds over for mites and lice and never saw any on them.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  3. cabot

    cabot Songster

    that is very much what they are doing. They just shake their head 2-3 times a minute . They stop when I am handling them and when I let them go, they start head shaking again. I did notice the ee scratching her head a few times but thought maybe I was reading too much into that.....
  4. dan_grow

    dan_grow Chirping

    May 21, 2010
    st. Louis
    i have no idea what this could be but i heard that giving them some scrambled eggs will bust their systems.
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Quote:The songbirds carry those mites. Chickens pick them up over and over. Hence the need to dust with Sevin sometimes- if you do a search for mites on here in the search bar- you will find lots of threads on how to treat.

    If you want to deworm at the same time, there are medications that killl all external and internal parasites. But some of them have an "egg withdrawal time" for the cautious.

    They also sell permethrin poultry dust.

    The problem is that some mites are resistant to some medications in parts of the country. So you might have to use something different than someone else.

    Here is a helpful website:

    Make sure you retreat every week with dust until gone, and it may take several treatments.

    A word of warning: Sevin dust (and permethrin too) is HIGHLY toxic, which is why it kills everything. I breathed it in during the treatments. You should wear a mask (I didn't), long sleeves, and wash your clothing/take a shower afterward. Some people put their chicken in a bag and rotate the bag around leaving the chicken's head out. I think I might try that next.

    The pour on medications are great!
  6. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Oh, also, I will list some things for you:

    Ivomec Eprinex Pour on (eprinomectin)
    Ivomec Ivermectin Pour on (ivermectin)
    Ivomec Ivermectin injectable (given I think orally or mixed in water?)
    Sevin 5% garden dust
    Permethrin poultry dust
    DE (this is a preventative only IMO) diatomaceous earth - I had this in the coops when they got the mites

    (Here are products for you to look up if you are interested.)
    Lslake likes this.
  7. cabot

    cabot Songster

    I think I will follow up with this. I have a pretty large population of sparrows and they once they discovered the layer pellets they were relentless so my chickens had definate exposure potential.

    Thank you for you help , it make a lot of sense! Fingers crossed that it works for me!

  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Quote:Oh, sparrows. Yes sir (or ma'am)! There you go.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  9. spartacus_63

    spartacus_63 Songster

    Aug 21, 2009
    Central Iowa
  10. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    DE is not effective with an established infestation of mites.

    It sounds like you have a mite problem. My hens were displaying the persistent head shaking last winter and started losing some feathers. Since they had all just gone through a hard molt I started suspecting a problem, but I didn't treat them immediately assuming their (very few) symptoms were not significant. I checked for mites and didn't see anything. When they stopped laying eggs, their combs became all pale and they started acting ill I decided to treat them for mites. Good thing, too. They immediately perked up and started looking much better. The head shaking stopped within hours. And I got an egg for the first time in weeks. It took 2 rounds of Eprinex and a complete coop clean out (twice) to clean up the problem. The girls looked better than they had in months after that.

    Treat them with an effective insecticide. Mites are nothing to mess around with. It will take at least 2 rounds of an insecticide 7-10 days apart and a complete house cleaning to alleviate the problem. Some Sevin or permethrin in the bedding of the coop could also be advantageous. It's a pain, but necessary. Mites can be deadly for birds.

    Good luck.

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