Avian Leukosis, anybody have experience?

raingarden

Songster
Apr 12, 2021
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Windward Oahu
Is it possible to draw a blood sample and send it to a lab for PCR without going through a vet? Any recommendations for a lab?

I think the NPIP certificate requires annual testing. But, what do they test for?
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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But, what do they test for?
Not much really.
NPIP was established years ago(early 1930's) to detect Pullorum(a certain strain of salmonella). Various programs may test for a couple other things, even tho it was a national program, testing now varies by state.
 

azygous

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12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Do you recall if the two newest chickens spent many nights piled with the earlier ones? Last year, I got four Blue Australorps and one of my older hens took them under her wing, literally. The close contact enabled her heavy virus shed to be passed to them before they could develop resistance. This is something I was completely ignorant about. I thought the virus would only pass vertically from the hen that laid the egg. The result was unbelievable heartbreak. I made a thread to document my struggles trying to save them. https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...update-now-another-pullet-going-lame.1432738/ One chick survived and has been normal until now. Her only indication something is amiss is that she hasn't molted. LL has so many presentations of symptoms.

If you have a lab that does farm animal testing near enough that you can drive the sample to them, since mail is too slow to get a blood sample there before it degrades, the blood test is easy. You ask the lab to send you the test kit which consists of vials. You prick a foot and collect a few drops of blood and seal the vials, put them on ice, then get them to the lab within 48 hours. Beyond that, the blood is no good.

All of your chickens would carry LL. It's that contagious. The blood tests are more accurate than PCR tests, so this would confirm the diagnosis.

Chickens that have resistance to LL won't produce symptoms, but as they age or other factors lower immune response, it's always possible they can.

Your type of bedding doesn't matter, but keeping bacteria under control does help by not putting the extra strain on their immune systems. I do keep a meticulously clean coop and run, and it appears it pays off as evidenced by how long my chickens manage to live normal lives.
 
May 28, 2020
483
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Bonney Lake, Washington
Do you recall if the two newest chickens spent many nights piled with the earlier ones? Last year, I got four Blue Australorps and one of my older hens took them under her wing, literally. The close contact enabled her heavy virus shed to be passed to them before they could develop resistance. This is something I was completely ignorant about. I thought the virus would only pass vertically from the hen that laid the egg. The result was unbelievable heartbreak. I made a thread to document my struggles trying to save them. https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...update-now-another-pullet-going-lame.1432738/ One chick survived and has been normal until now. Her only indication something is amiss is that she hasn't molted. LL has so many presentations of symptoms.

If you have a lab that does farm animal testing near enough that you can drive the sample to them, since mail is too slow to get a blood sample there before it degrades, the blood test is easy. You ask the lab to send you the test kit which consists of vials. You prick a foot and collect a few drops of blood and seal the vials, put them on ice, then get them to the lab within 48 hours. Beyond that, the blood is no good.

All of your chickens would carry LL. It's that contagious. The blood tests are more accurate than PCR tests, so this would confirm the diagnosis.

Chickens that have resistance to LL won't produce symptoms, but as they age or other factors lower immune response, it's always possible they can.

Your type of bedding doesn't matter, but keeping bacteria under control does help by not putting the extra strain on their immune systems. I do keep a meticulously clean coop and run, and it appears it pays off as evidenced by how long my chickens manage to live normal lives.
Newest ones didn't even come home with me until a few weeks old, from there it was a week or two before they met. I don't remember the exact ages but certainly no close interaction in the early days.

I am assuming all of them are positive for LL at this point. Anything you've changed substantially to protect their immune systems as they age besides keeping their environment clean? We currently don't have a very big run (it's technically "big enough" but they protest loudly when they can't go out). I'm worried about the stress of being "cooped up" will more negatively impact their health than free ranging. I'm planning to build a bigger run once we move. Unfortunate timing, but doing everything I can to prep for a stress free transition in a few months...while also bracing myself for issues. The new place isn't too far away.

@azygous I asked my vet a few of these questions, but curious to hear about your experience here. Sorry if some of this is redundant, I feel like I'm just swimming through a fog recently.
  • Have you found that there's a critical period of time where more deaths occur (and...a time where I might have hope that some are building resistance)? It sounds like age of exposure definitely matters here, but curious if you've noticed phases where your flock seems to be fighting initial illness off and pushes through.
  • Have any of your flock seemed to "clear it" fully? As in, haven't shown any signs of LL despite exposure?
  • Is there anything you look out for that indicates a quality of life decline besides the obvious (disinterest in food, activity, etc.)? It's hard to tell right now since a couple of mine are molting and they lost their close flockmate
  • Anything you'd recommend to best support them and keep their immune systems strong and stress free?
 

springvalley123

Crowing
6 Years
May 22, 2015
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I'm worried about the stress of being "cooped up" will more negatively impact their health than free ranging. I'm planning to build a bigger run once we move. Unfortunate timing, but doing everything I can to prep for a stress free transition in a few months...while also bracing myself for issues. The new place isn't too far away.
I can only speak to the issue of moving with chickens. I've done it a few times now and the best way, is to fully build the coop and run in the new place and then move the birds in. If you can time it, pick the time of day that you usually go and handle them for your treatments, possibly night time on the roost, to crate them up, and move them and put them on the new roost. Sorry you're having to deal with all this and move the birds on top of all the LL issues but when I've moved healthy birds, they didn't seem stressed, didn't stop laying, so hopefully the move won't have a bad effect on your birds. One note, if possible I'd avoid having to modify the new coop/run after moving the birds in, as seemingly minor tweeks like a small extra patch of hardware cloth near a roost, can really stress them. Take care of yourself and good luck!
 
May 28, 2020
483
610
186
Bonney Lake, Washington
I can only speak to the issue of moving with chickens. I've done it a few times now and the best way, is to fully build the coop and run in the new place and then move the birds in. If you can time it, pick the time of day that you usually go and handle them for your treatments, possibly night time on the roost, to crate them up, and move them and put them on the new roost. Sorry you're having to deal with all this and move the birds on top of all the LL issues but when I've moved healthy birds, they didn't seem stressed, didn't stop laying, so hopefully the move won't have a bad effect on your birds. One note, if possible I'd avoid having to modify the new coop/run after moving the birds in, as seemingly minor tweeks like a small extra patch of hardware cloth near a roost, can really stress them. Take care of yourself and good luck!
Thank you, all good tips! Fortunately we’ve done a little shuffling here and there, between some freak weather events and the vet, so I think our girls are pretty easy going overall. They adjust well to change when together. Still worried about the shock of entirely new home, but I’ll be armed with snackies and will be hanging out with them for the first few days.

Unable to move their entire coop, but might be a good idea to try to recreate the structure/layout for consistency…
 

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