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A Hen In Our Flock (of 4) Was Killed by Hawk Yesterday - Another Chicken Acting Weak, Wings Drooping

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by bonsnitz, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. bonsnitz

    bonsnitz New Egg

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    Jan 28, 2015
    Hello! Until yesterday, we had 4 Black Star Hybrid hens, all almost two years old. They have an A-frame tractor in which I have always used pine shavings for bedding until today, when I replaced it with straw (after reading that pine shavings can be toxic). We used to move the coop around every couple days, but since October they have been free ranging during the day because with the cold weather and lack of grass, I felt like they weren't getting enough vegetation. Over the last month or so they have all been going through a molt, but the one that is acting sick now was the last to molt and seems to have taken it the hardest - over the last week or so she has had a lot of new feathers coming in and has been acting a little sluggish, pale comb, feathers puffed up, wings a little droopy, tail down, but is still eating and drinking, and does not have a runny nose or foggy eyes and I have not seen any bloody poop. I have been giving them all a little extra protein (like cooked eggs, tuna or yogurt) every day or two and it seemed like the sickly one was getting better until yesterday...

    I went outside in the afternoon to collect eggs and didn't hear them foraging around like I usually do, so I went a few steps to check their favorite clump of trees and as I approached, a large hawk flew away. I investigated further and found one of our hens, the one I'm pretty sure was the alpha, dead - decapitated and partially eaten. Over the next couple hours I was able to scare the hawk away (with the help of our beagle/pit bull mix), find the other three (thankfully they were not hurt) and corral them into their coop and close it up. Today I went out to check on them and the one that had been acting weak before seems to have started declining again. Now she is lying down and breathing heavily. She is still eating and drinking, though. I thought she could possibly be egg bound, but if she is in the middle of a molt, would that even be possible? I have been giving them a mix of vitamins, electrolytes and probiotics in their water for the last month or so and in the past have sprinkled diatomaceous earth in their bedding, but have not remembered to do it in a few months, so I thought it could possibly be worms/parasites. I also read somewhere that shock can cause them to get ill, so I wondered if maybe her decline was from the shock of yesterday's events? I have tried to find an avian vet in the area, but after calling around a dozen vets that apparently do not work on chickens at all, I have pretty much lost hope in that department.

    At this time I'm not sure if I should quarantine her in case she is sick? I would hate to get the other two sick, but if it is just weakness from molting plus shock from yesterday, I wouldn't want to shock her even more by taking her away from her sisters. They aren't picking on her at all or keeping her from the food or anything. Any help or advice anyone has would e greatly appreciated! Thank you so much.

    Bonnie
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    I would start by deworming her, all of them actually, with something effective like Valbazen or liquid Safeguard for goats. 1/2 cc per standard bird, repeat the dose in 10 days. DE will not prevent nor get rid of a worm infestation. Chickens often act a little slow or cranky during a molt but if they are healthy it should not affect them to this extent. Stress can certainly exacerbate an underlying illness or weakness brought on by parasites.

    Sick birds need to be kept warm so it might be a good idea to bring her inside in a dog crate if you have one. That way you can also closely monitor her eating/drinking and her droppings. Also check closely for mites.

    Birds who are ill or weak have compromised immunity so it's not out of the question that she could be fighting a case of coccidiosis. Sometimes it causes blood in the stool, sometimes not, so lack of blood is not a reliable indication that it's not coccidiosis. It would not hurt to treat so you can at least rule out that problem.

    Sometimes all we can do is start by ruling out the most common possibilities and work our way out from there in trying to figure out a sick chicken.

    Pine shavings are not toxic. Cedar is not recommended because it is very irritating to the respiratory tract. Pine is fine. My chicks and adult birds have been raised on pine in brooders and coops for many years.

    Good luck with your bird, hope you can get her better. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2015
  3. bonsnitz

    bonsnitz New Egg

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    Jan 28, 2015
    hello! thank you so much for your response. I got the wormer - it's called Wazine 17, which is turkey, chicken and swine wormer. however, the instructions say "do not give to sick, feverish, underweight or physically weak birds or animals", so I am not sure what to do. I am getting nervous, because she has been looking pretty rough for four days now and she is getting weaker so I'd like to treat her as soon as possible, but I don't want to kill her in the process... I also got the coccidiosis treatment. I was wondering if I need to do the two treatments separately, or should I do them at the same time?
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    The problem with Wazine is that it will only get rid of round worms and chickens get many other types of worms. I would take it back and get Safeguard, either the liquid for goats or the paste for horses.

    In the meantime you can go ahead and start the meds for coccidiosis.
     
  5. bonsnitz

    bonsnitz New Egg

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    Jan 28, 2015
    unfortunately she passed away yesterday. from everything i've read in the last week or so, it seems like it was egg peritonitis - she was skinny, but had a very swollen abdomen and passed something fleshy and kind of egg-shaped when she died. her puffed-up feathers did a really good job of disguising her skinniness, so i could not tell that she was under weight. i also didn't think it could be egg related since she was in the middle of a molt - had new feathers growing in just less than a week ago. i am glad she isn't suffering any more, though. she was looking very weak those last couple days. now we are down to two chickens from four in less than a week's time. trying to decide if i want to get a few more in the spring, or wait until we move early next year... thank you again for your help! i have given the other two chickens their first dose of wazine, as the local tractor supply didn't have liquid safeguard in stock when i went last week. i am wondering, though, should i go ahead and do the ten-day follow up with wazine, or should i try again to get the safeguard and just do the follow-up with that? or should i start fresh and do the safeguard when i am able to get it and then follow up with it again ten days later? i appreciate any info you might have that could help!
     

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