Blackhead Disease... I think?

Haida

Chirping
6 Years
Sep 12, 2013
140
7
73
Western NY
Some background: This is my third Spring with turkeys, my second Spring breeding/incubating eggs. I am not new to turks or anything like that... I spend my free time hanging out with them, observing them and researching them. My flock is pastured and has access to an old horse barn. I have one tom, four hens, all about a year old, all heritage birds. I alternate Rooster Booster and ACV in their water daily, then once a week I give them cayenne pepper in the water and over food, followed by vitamins in plain greek yogurt. They have DE on their feed as well (I give them bird seeds and hardboiled eggs as a treat, and they're on gamebird maintenance/finisher feed). No one has ever been sick... until now...

Week before last, everyone was okay, I was getting 3-4 eggs a day (I got 5 one day!), but then they began to taper off... then I noticed a few watery-than-normal poos, so I gave them some cayenne pepper (this was on Friday 4/18). On Saturday, my husband and I had to visit family, so we had my mother-in-law look after the turks. The temps were in the 70's or so... not too hot. On Sunday evening, when we came back, three of my hens were lethargic, drooping wings, not eating (but drinking a LOT) and they had the horrible yellow "egg-drop-soup poops" that were consistent with everything I've read (and experienced) about blackhead disease. And only two eggs for two days...

**I do have a little experience with this disease... I had an outbreak last year, it killed two of my birds (one happened to be my favorite hen...) and they both had these same symptoms. We did an autopsy on them and they had the lesions on their livers... just like everything I've read about blackhead... we burned their bodies afterwards, and moved everyone who survived into the horse barn (which is everyone in my flock now)**

On Monday, I put Wazine into their water, along with ACV, vitamins and garlic slices, prayed for the best. My tom and the other hen were just fine. Their poos were totally okay, eating and acting fine. The other three hens just kept to themselves... wings barely off of the ground, necks like limp noodles, just kind of sleeping wherever. I continued to put loads of vitamins in their water. All of their faces were pale, almost white. On Wednesday, I was sitting with them, and a buzzard came by to see if he could have anything... he was RIGHT over the roof... so terrifying... On Thursday night, I wanted to try something... I purchased Safeguard for goats, and put it into their water with greek yogurt, cayenne pepper, ACV and vitamins. I'm not sure how much I put in, maybe 1/4th of the bottle? My other hen began to be lethargic, so I was willing to take a chance. I made this concoction and put it out for Friday morning. I get home from work on Friday evening, and the ENTIRE bucket of water is gone. It wasn't hot, they didn't spill it... I seriously have never seen them go through water like that.

I walked into their pen, and the hens came over to greet me! Then I went to give them food and they swarmed me! They ate like horses! They cleaned the whole bowl of food out! I poured in fresh, clean water and they were so happy about it, chasing bubbles and things... one of the hens was pecking at my pants (like she always does)! No one seemed lethargic, they were like completely different birds. There were no more egg-drop-soup poos, the color had come back to their faces... their poos are not completely normal, still kind of watery, but they're white and have solids!

Today, they're still eating like mad, re-establishing ranks, BREEDING even and their poos are slowly returning to normal... still a little watery, but normal colors. I am beginning to get eggs again, only once a day... they do have access to oyster shell, too.

So my question is: is there anything that mimics blackhead like this? Has anyone else had something like this happen?! What was it?

Thanks for reading!
 

retlaw

Songster
6 Years
Feb 2, 2013
446
17
104
I think the temperature might still be to cold there for blackhead yet.
 

Haida

Chirping
6 Years
Sep 12, 2013
140
7
73
Western NY
I hadn't heard that one. I figured if it was warm enough for the earthworms to come to the surface, then it was warm enough for blackhead? What temperature does blackhead become really prevalent?

Thanks
 

ivan3

spurredon
12 Years
Jan 27, 2007
4,511
208
291
BOCOMO
I'd have Metronidazole on hand, myself. This has happened before, in the same location. The area (particularly brooding area) needs have the soil reconditioned (prevent both immediate/secondary vectors from comfortable infestation of soil and uptake by turkeys).

Turn soil down ~4-6 inches, add a dusting of hydrated lime to a large quantity of sand and turn in to dirt flooring. Then add more sand on top of that to a depth of 3 inches. I'd save the amorphous diatomaceous earth to add to soil/bedding where its desiccant property will do some good.

From your description, it seems you've got the histomonads in the soil and need to do what is possible to prevent their easy transport into your turkeys. The mechanical preventative of `poisoning' the protozoan's primary vectors is labor intensive, but probably quite effective in preventing a recurrence of the disease. Scheduled worming (switching between Ivermectin pour-on and Fenbendazole/Albendazole will take out most vectors - resistance to both classes has been observed but this is location/population dependent) is probably a good idea, as well.
 
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retlaw

Songster
6 Years
Feb 2, 2013
446
17
104
I hadn't heard that one. I figured if it was warm enough for the earthworms to come to the surface, then it was warm enough for blackhead? What temperature does blackhead become really prevalent?

Thanks
Let me clarify for you. I was a little vague.
The temperatures have to be right for worms to lay eggs and transfer the parasite.
Worm eggs cannot develop when it is very dry, when the temperature is below 10˚C or above 35˚C.


here is a good read about worming your birds.
http://poultrykeeper.com/general-chickens/worming-chickens
 
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Haida

Chirping
6 Years
Sep 12, 2013
140
7
73
Western NY
Ohhh, wow, okay! Thank you for the info! I will definitely look into the sand and lime... I was wondering if I could do something like that, but I wasn't sure how to go about it... the instructions really help!

Thanks you guys!
 

ivan3

spurredon
12 Years
Jan 27, 2007
4,511
208
291
BOCOMO
You'll only want to mix in a half-a-cup of the hydrated lime for every 200 lb. of soil. It needs to be mixed in well with the existing soil (not clumped up - it is somewhat `hot' and could irritate turkey feet if concentrated). Main thing is DRY/DRY/DRY and well drained. Construction grade sand is very good (plenty of surface area per grain/doesn't bunch up like fine sand - dries out fast). As you have chickens worm them and perform the same work on the ground in their run - chooks being the most common reservoir for the HG cecal worm).

The turkey hens need to have nests in only `authorized' locations with `clean' brooding areas/run for the poults (or best, poults off of soil for first three months). As you pasture the birds most of the time I'd suggest regular worming schedule, for sure.

Good luck!

Also: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/804570/coping-with-blackhead
 
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Haida

Chirping
6 Years
Sep 12, 2013
140
7
73
Western NY
Ahh, that would be a dream come true! So dry and no worms... is this what you have set up for your turks? Do plants grow in it the sand at all or does the lime kill it? I ran this by my husband and he loves the idea, too! Nice!

Most of the time, they do use their nesting boxes, they're inside and nice, dry and quiet... but once in a great while I'll find an egg out in the field (a surprise egg, I guess)... I found one in their water on Monday... lol, okay... silly birds. The poults will be separated from the adults, I have a brooding area and an indoor run for them all set up. The outside pen they'll be in is huge, about 150' x 75'... it wouldn't be feasible for us to put sand down in it, but that being said, it is a LOT drier. Probably the driest area on the property. We're planning on eating most of the poults, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do as a preventative/cure... everything I've read says the FDA doesn't approve of any of those wormers in animals for eating, but do you think it will be an issue?
That link is beyond helpful! I haven't seen that one before!
Thanks!
 

ivan3

spurredon
12 Years
Jan 27, 2007
4,511
208
291
BOCOMO
Ahh, that would be a dream come true! So dry and no worms... is this what you have set up for your turks? Do plants grow in it the sand at all or does the lime kill it? I ran this by my husband and he loves the idea, too! Nice! Most of the time, they do use their nesting boxes, they're inside and nice, dry and quiet... but once in a great while I'll find an egg out in the field (a surprise egg, I guess)... I found one in their water on Monday... lol, okay... silly birds. The poults will be separated from the adults, I have a brooding area and an indoor run for them all set up. The outside pen they'll be in is huge, about 150' x 75'... it wouldn't be feasible for us to put sand down in it, but that being said, it is a LOT drier. Probably the driest area on the property. We're planning on eating most of the poults, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do as a preventative/cure... everything I've read says the FDA doesn't approve of any of those wormers in animals for eating, but do you think it will be an issue? That link is beyond helpful! I haven't seen that one before! :thumbsup Thanks!
In a big area, the best one can do is improve drainage. The suggestion (small quantities of hydrated lime) for soil amendment had to do with enclosed areas where it would serve as an adjunct to breakdown of organics (poop). Can't use a lot owing to its being an irritant in concentrated amounts. Wouldn't bother adding to open areas. Our setup is much smaller, so the sand/lime works well (black spots in sand are Black Oil Sunflower seeds - I forgot and left a coffee can full of BOSS in run and a good time was had by all :rolleyes: ). Too many Wilds show up, most every year, to allow `pasturing' - supervised ranging when possible: Ivermectin has a 30 day withdrawal before butchering (in ruminants). Safe guard (Fenbendazole) has a 6 day withdrawal before butchering (in ruminants). Some more, in depth, on `worms': http://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/resource000811_rep844.pdf
 
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