Bad Day - Need to Vent

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by HidingInTheHenHouse, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. HidingInTheHenHouse

    HidingInTheHenHouse Songster

    Jun 21, 2008
    I have had chickens for almost a year now, and have had so many die on me, that I've lost count! I have a nice coop and run that is the right size, I clean the coop weekly and the waterer daily, I keep a close eye on all the birds, but I am tired of them getting sick and dying or just plain showing up dead one morning. I don't understand what I am doing wrong!

    This morning, my impacted crop hen that I had done surgury on was dead in her cage. Then I come home from work and find that a loose dog had killed 2 of my guineas, one of which was my only female and was probably very close to laying her first egg!! Now I have to find some more keets and start all over, and wait another year before I have any fertile guinea eggs. It is so frustrating.

    There is always a chicken sick in the house that I'm trying desperately to save, and 9 times out of 10, that chicken dies anyway.

    Some days I just want to give it all up. It can just be too heart breaking to lose hen after hen that you have named and come to know and even had eggs from. I find myself trying not to come too attached to the chickens since from history I know I'm going to lose some. I want to have a closed flock, but how do you get there, when it takes so long to get hens to laying age without dying and then to get those chicks to laying age without dying. Out of all the chicks I've hatched, I only have one that is just now getting old enough to lay.

    Thanks for reading, if you got this far. I just feel very sad and frustrated tonight.
  2. kees

    kees Songster

    Feb 5, 2008
    Well, anyone would be frustrated if they experienced what you've described!

    Is it possible to specifically describe your chicken setup, the breeds that you selected (as well as their source), and what you noticed when your birds died?

    Perhaps the people on the BYC can make suggestions that might be of use.


  3. CovenantCreek

    CovenantCreek Chicks Rule!

    Oct 19, 2007
    Franklin, TN
  4. Redfeathers

    Redfeathers Songster

    Oct 11, 2007
    Gervais OR
    That is maddening. I think I would buy my next batch from a totaly different source and start over. I'm sorry you are going through this, it really shouldn't be happening this way. Don't give up.
  5. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    I would sugguest having a necropsy done on the next one that dies. You could find out what happened and maybe how to prevent it.
  6. WriterofWords

    WriterofWords Has Fainting Chickens

    Dec 25, 2007
    Chaparral, New Mexico
    [​IMG] that is why we are here,,,, to share in the joy, the sorrow, and the frustration of our chosen addiction.
  7. Could you please post the symptoms from beginning until death of your chickens. If these symptoms are the same are similar please post this also.

    I have had a disease that ran through my flock a while back and some died and some I culled. I knew the symptoms from start to finish. Some did survive and I have them running about the place today like nothing happened. However, I do believe that some of the flock do contract the same disease although not near as bad because the survivors are carriers.

    I have basically a confirmation of what it was and it will not wipe a flock out.

    My hens lay eggs like there is no tomorrow. They all go out that want to and are energetic and loving life as a chicken.

    The roos all do their job, they fight and protect just like a roo should do.

    I even have my little mourning roo who lost his mate come back from near death and back to loving life again.

    Oh, I do lose some to predators, but they are safe under my watch at nite nite time.

    It has been a struggle to get to this point, but I would not have it any other way now. I have learned so much and this site has been a great teacher.

    So do not give up, having chickens have lowered my blood pressure, made me get into better shape and given my something to protect and get attached too. There are many benefits and I do not even like eggs all that much !!
  8. HidingInTheHenHouse

    HidingInTheHenHouse Songster

    Jun 21, 2008
    Thanks for all the hugs.

    I had a vet diagnosis of Coccidia, so some of it is probably that, but I am now very familiar with those symptoms and have Corid on hand at all times to treat that, so I think it is under control. Also, because of the types of roost in the hen house, I can see all the droppings when I clean, so I can watch for any abnormalities there. Lately, I believe I've been dealing with Marek's, so I'm purchasing vaccine and am going to start vaccinating all hatched chicks and making sure all ordered chicks are vaccinated.

    Some of the losses were due to the extremely cold weather this winter, and hatching chicks too late in the year; they just didn't seem to know how to survive in the cold, even though all the older chickens did fine.

    I've gotten my chickens from several different sources when first establishing my flock, and lately just from hatching my own fertile eggs. No one source seems to be to blame.

    I have 17 laying hens and one rooster right now. Of those, 14 are laying for sure, with an average of 10 eggs a day. I can exactly identify which 3 are not laying; 2 are too young, and 1 is my silkie, who hasn't started laying again since we let her hatch some chicks this winter. This is what I have outside. Plus 3 male guineas.

    In the house I currently have 2 chickens being supported with probable Marek's, 4 12 wk olds (2 roos, 2 hens) that I haven't incorporated yet with the outside flock (waiting until they were bigger), and 9 5 week olds (seems to be all roos unfortunately).

    All extra roos will be eaten when they start crowing, or given away.

    I feed Purina laying pellets, and scratch as a treat with more corn added in winter. I provide 3 feeding stations, one of which is inside, the other 2 outside but protected from rain. There are 2 or 3 waterers, all outside, except for during the coldest part of winter, I put a waterer inside the hen house so it would take longer to freeze. One of the outside waterers is on a heater. I change 2 of the waterers daily, with washing in between (I have several so their easy to rotate). I wash out good and refill the metal waterer on the heater once a week in winter and every 2 or 3 days in the hottest part of the year. I scrape down all perches and perch "shelves" in the hen house every 2 or 3 days and remove all of these droppings to the compost. I also fluff up all of the bedding which is wood shavings while I'm in there and remove any wet areas (usually there are not any wet areas, since I fluff so often), everytime I fill a 5 gallon bucket with stuff for the compost, I add a 5 gallon bucket of new shavings. I have 3 nest boxes, all of which are used, which I check daily for any soiling, and replace or add straw as needed.

    Their outside was originally a gravel driveway, which we covered with a very thick layer of wood shavings. We add to that layer frequently, especially if any puddles form after a rain. I always watch for any standing water so I can take care of it right away. There is enought shavings that mud is never a problem. The chickens really enjoy scratching around in the shavings.

    I allow my chickens free range time in the backyard daily when it is above 30 and not raining too hard. They spread out and enjoy eating grass, taking dust baths in their favorite spots, laying in the sun, eating treats, and generally acting like very happy chickens. Most days, I let them free range from morning until dusk when they put themselves to bed. They get along very well with our dog, who protects them (usually) and loves to herd the guineas. The guineas love to perch on the garage roof and make a wonderful racket anytime anything catches their attention. They occasionally go for a stroll in the neighborhood, but always come home again.

    So, there it is, for those who wanted to know.
  9. HidingInTheHenHouse

    HidingInTheHenHouse Songster

    Jun 21, 2008
    Several hens I have just found dead in the hen house one morning. One of these was a layer. Others were young, and I don't know why they died.

    One hen I think died from an internal injury, possibly broken egg inside, as she had been dropped by a child and usually laid everyday. I don't have the heart to cut open my pets after they die.

    At least 3 I am pretty sure have died from Marek's before I knew the symptoms. I had tried treating with antibiotics, but no help. The first signs would be finding them fluffed up and not moving much, I would move them inside to treat and watch, and they would die sometimes very quickly, sometimes after weeks of treating. At least 2 of those had the left sided paralysis or loss of balance which I didn't recognize at the time, but 2 of those were also vaccinated for Marek's by the source.

    Some late hatching chicks died during the extreme cold. I think they just froze, but I'm not sure, I just found them dead one right after another.

    Typical event goes like this: Notice in morning that hen is sitting fluffed up and not moving much when I go to feed the flock. If I can catch her easily, I know she isn't feeling well. That day, I keep an eye on her to see if she eats, drinks, free ranging, come for treats, etc. Depending on her behavior, I either bring her inside that night for a more thorough exam and supportive therapy, or I leave her with the flock and continue to observe. Once I observe this hen either not eating, not drinking, not leaving the hen house when all the other chickens are out, or not improving, I bring her inside. There, I isolate her in a special cage, give her electrolytes and vitamin water, examine her, and try the tempt her to eat with some eggs, or cottage cheese, or yogurt. Depending on what I find, I might treat for worms, if very thin (piperazine first), treat for lice or mites, start antibiotics, or just watch.

    Inevitable, the hen worsens and eventually dies, sometimes, with no other decernible symptoms, sometimes with balance issues or seeming neurologic symptoms. Some I have given antibiotics to, some I have not. The only thing the antibiotics ever seemed to help with was a snotty nose, which I have only had twice.

    Really, I am just doing a hit or miss approach, hoping that I don't lose yet another one, but I really dread going out to the chicken yard in the morning, because so often either I find one dead, or fluffed up, which is probably as good as dead.

    Thank you to everyone here for your willingness to listen. I don't expect anyone here to be able to solve my problems with my flock, but it is nice to have people who understand why you cry when a chicken dies, instead of just saying "Well, can't you make soup? It's just a chicken after all"
  10. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Wow, it sounds like you are really trying hard to be a good chicken keeper! Don't know what to say, other than try not to get too discouraged, and think about the good times they have had free-ranging. I sometimes feel that raising chickens is like trying to raise parakeets outside. So many things can happen to them...

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