Avian Leukosis Virus (ALV) clean Legbar source

LikeTurkeys

Crowing
Jul 25, 2018
1,159
2,251
296
Southern California
Hello everyone!

** The Question **
For those of you who have purchased Legbars, did you experience any seemingly inexplicable deaths at 16+ weeks? Where did you obtain these birds? If you didn't experience any deaths, please state where you got them from anyway as a recommendation (either hatching eggs or chicks).

** Backstory **

Back in March, after a long and exciting waiting time, I received my order of Cream Legbars from McMurray hatchery. I ordered 15 pullets as well as a few cockerels, but they weren't able to hatch enough so the March 18th delivery contained only 8. But they made good on it and shipped the other 7 in the beginning of April.

Some died the day of arrival, some were taken by predators and a few I culled for lack of vigor. I was left with 7 pullets and 2 cockerels. At least 4 of the pullets were from the April delivery, but both cockerels and 2 of the other pullets were from the March 18th delivery.

The 2 pullets from the March 18th delivery started laying on schedule, at around 22 weeks. About a month later, I had one of the pullets from the April shipment die suddenly, after 3 days of moderate lethargy. She was around 23 old and not laying yet. I posted her myself and the necropsy revealed grossly enlarged liver and spleen, indicative of lymphoid leukosis. Another pullet from the same shipment (also not laying) died within several weeks of the first one with the same symptoms.

I am now left with at least 2 pullets, possibly three, from that same shipment. They are the best ones, but I am thinking of culling because of the possibility that they are carriers of lymphoid leukosis. The ones from the March 18th shipment as well as some cockerels from another breeder were unfortunately in with these, so it's possible that the disease has already spread.

My current plan is to hatch from the remaining 2 pullets like mad and keep the offspring separated until 30 weeks of age. They would be raised in groups of 6-8 and any group that showed symptoms would be immediately culled, as well as the dam they came from. The remaining chicks from groups that don't show symptoms would not be allowed to breed with any potentially exposed birds. It would be easier if I could get all the birds tested and cull carriers now, without this long waiting process, but I am not yet aware of a testing center that will do this.

I still have 3 Legbars (2 Golden Crele cockerels and 1 Cream pullet) from a Cream Legbar Club member that have not been exposed and don't appear to be showing symptoms. These I intend to keep separate, and I am messaging the breeder to ask whether she has had any young birds die apparently for no reason.


The issue is that it appears at least several hatcheries AND breeders are having issues with this, not only McMurray. Possibly even Greenfire, and probably MyPetChicken. It can be hard to tell because one person can get 10 chicks with no issues, and another can get just one who has been vertically infected and then spreads it to the other chicks in the brooder. So any hatchery whose reviews indicate birds that have died or failed to thrive at laying age is off my list.

If I find a good source, I might just start over. I am fairly confident I know which birds have been exposed and thankfully the Legbars were raised separately from other chicks in the brooder. I look forward to hearing your experiences!
 

Tervuren

Songster
Aug 30, 2020
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Southern Idaho
Curious if you’ve found anything in the last month? I’m currently having issues with a CL pullet from McMurray who isn’t recovering well from crop surgery (by a vet). I’ve read what I assume is your review on their website, and it has me wondering if something else isn’t going on.
 

LikeTurkeys

Crowing
Jul 25, 2018
1,159
2,251
296
Southern California
Curious if you’ve found anything in the last month? I’m currently having issues with a CL pullet from McMurray who isn’t recovering well from crop surgery (by a vet). I’ve read what I assume is your review on their website, and it has me wondering if something else isn’t going on.
I've messaged several breeders and it looks like Paul & Angela Smith (who also breed Ameraucanas) do not have issues with this. I plan on ordering some hatching eggs from them in the spring.
 

LikeTurkeys

Crowing
Jul 25, 2018
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Southern California
My flock came from Cackle and were all very hardy and healthy until we got hit with mycoplasma this past spring. There's been a couple of discussions in FB groups about general lack of vigor in legbars, though.
Interesting... but the mycoplasma did not come from Cackle surely. How many did you purchase? Did they all start laying on time (<30 weeks?). and sorry to hear that you are dealing with this in your flock.
 

LikeTurkeys

Crowing
Jul 25, 2018
1,159
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296
Southern California
Has anyone bought a CL from Mt Healthy & had issues?
I haven't but that's a good question! Their website doesn't have any reviews.

Unfortunately, I think I have to add Meyer Hatchery to the list of ones to stay away from. See this review in 2018, classic lymphoid leukosis:

"I purchased three legbars in July, 2015. Two of them died within the first year, exhibiting identical symptoms- lethargy, isolation, melancholy. The first hen died at 4 months, she had laid one egg and was just coming into her own. I performed a layman's autopsy to rule out obvious causes. Her liver was enlarged and 'mealy'. Extremely diseased. The second hen died 8 months later at a year old. From all appearances, she suffered the same fate. These two hens were of the same color, light and dark gray. The surviving hen is spectacular, the star of the flock. Her name is Hazel, and she is now 3 years old. She is brown in color and lays large, blue eggs at a terrific pace. These birds were expensive for a 33% survival rate."

Several more mention no eggs from their pullets for more than 9 months, multiple 'duds' which could very well be symptoms of LL. Problem is, so many people buy just 1 or 2 from a hatchery at a time and don't have issues because they aren't infected (it's about 1 in every 10 chicks that will get vertically infected). And then someone else buys 10 or 15 and it spreads to the rest. Or they just happen to get that 'dud' hen who doesn't lay eggs very well.

Cackle has ok reviews, no deaths but the egg production doesn't look to be very good.
 

Tervuren

Songster
Aug 30, 2020
135
260
146
Southern Idaho
Ugh, that's disappointing. Do you think the virus came with the original imports? You mentioned you were concerned about Greenfire Farms in your first post... I love my little Legbar, she's a spunky girl, just not vigorous health-wise. I don't think she has LL, just lacking in vigor. Probably won't go with the breed again due to all the stories and reviews. :(
 

LikeTurkeys

Crowing
Jul 25, 2018
1,159
2,251
296
Southern California
Ugh, that's disappointing. Do you think the virus came with the original imports? You mentioned you were concerned about Greenfire Farms in your first post... I love my little Legbar, she's a spunky girl, just not vigorous health-wise. I don't think she has LL, just lacking in vigor. Probably won't go with the breed again due to all the stories and reviews. :(
With how widespread it seems to be, absolutely. Plus Greenfire has had issues with LL in at least one of their other breeds - I think Silver Marans.

There is a guy in my area who has CL imported from Serbia (not a Reese line or from Greenfire). They are beautiful and I plan on asking him next about the health and productivity of his hens.

All of my pullets from McMurray are not laying right now - 3 cut out last month and 2 never started at all (hatched April). I have doubts as to whether they ever will.

I have another pullet from Jane Johnson in LA whose comb is pinking up and her pubic bones are getting wider. She is about 6 months old. Hoping for lots of eggs out of her. If it looks like she isn't a carrier, I'm going to hatch like mad but keep them separated until at least 30 weeks. Then see if any die or are poor producers. A pain I know, but maybe worth it. Might do the same even with some of the better McMurray pullets, provided they start laying again in the spring.

Wish I could have them tested.
 

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