1. FinaticHen

    FinaticHen Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2012
    Queensland, Australia
    Hey all,
    After perusing this site I have come to the conclusion that not many people know about Botulism. Recently I had a chicken die from Botulism and another is fighting for her life in hospital. Botulism is caused by a bacteria that when ingested releases a toxin that attacks the nerves. Anyone and any animal can get Botulism, but we all contract it from different things.

    Chickens contract Botulism from the following:
    - Decaying Carcasses
    - Warmer months
    - Stagnant pools contaminated by rotting material i.e dead fish
    - Decaying plant and animal matter
    - Maggots and litter beetles

    Botulism is not contagious, chickens only contract it from eating one of the above. If multiple chickens eat from the same source then they will contract Botulism. Depending on the quantity ingested depends on whether the chicken dies or lives. My Plymouth Rock was found dead in the coop, rigour-mortis has already set in so she had been dead for a while. When I put them to bed she appeared to be the happy healthy chicken she was. Botulism is a rapid in taking its toll.

    The second chicken, a leghorn, was found in the coop, still on the perch but very week. She was struggling to hold up her head and drool was dribbling from her mouth. The first signs of Botulism can be seen 12 - 48 hours after ingestion. It will cause relaxed paralysis of:

    - Neck
    - Wings
    - Eyelids
    - Feather Follicles

    Symptoms will be:

    - Dropping head
    - Dropping wings
    - Closed eyelids
    - Drowsiness
    - Loss of appetite
    - Easily plucked feathers
    - Mucoid saliva from the beach (i.e drool)
    - Greenish Diarrhoea
    - Reluctance to move

    Chickens will either die from Botulism or make a slow recovery. The leghorn was rushed to the closet Avian vet where she is undergoing extensive treatment. The second day into her treatment she can stand for short periods of time, eyelids still closed and unable to hold her head up for a long time. She is being fed through a crop needle, the food is bird mash and medications which have been liquified to make digestion easy. The bird will need to be stimulated in order to pass faces. Expect no egg laying during this period.

    Hopefully this will help anyone who has been unaware of Botulism. I will keep you update on the Leghorn, fingers crossed she makes a full recovery.
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Flock Master Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I hope your leghorn makes it. Fortunately, if they live for 48 hours, there is a good chance for recovery. Apparently, it only takes a minute amount of botulinum toxin to kill a chicken, so it is amazing that some recover. Also if a chicken is buried on the property with botulism, that carcass can also be infective by toxin in that body.
  3. hiddenflock

    hiddenflock Chillin' With My Peeps

    Do all maggots bring on botulism? If so, how often should my chicken coop be cleaned out? We've found maggots under our straw before, in both coops, and our chickens and ducks came in and ate them, but nothing happened...does this mean some maggots don't carry the disease?
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Flock Master Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Only maggots that have been from decayed animal or fish carcasses, or vegetation that has been underground without oxygen. Flooded creek beds can be bad, even pond mud from decayed animals or fish can be contaminated. Ducks are especially prone to botulism. Here are just a few articles on botulism if you would like more information:
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  5. myhoneybfly

    myhoneybfly New Egg

    Jul 23, 2013
    Hi. Sorry to hear of your birds. How is the leghorn?

    I just had my first and hopefully last unsure bout with botulism. I had a chicken who seemed fine yesterday, but was in the box and broody. This morning I found her on the floor of the coop unable to use her legs. I separated her and within hours her legs were stiff. By mid afternoon her whole lower half was stiff and unbendable. She drink water with assistance and immediately closed eyes. I spent the day trying to isolate the cause and finally came to the conclusion it was botulism. We have had excessive rain here and couple that with clay soil, fly's and heat ~ a breeding ground for it. I had doses of epson salt and molasses in hand heading to the barn only to find she did not make it. I have one more who seems broody and will make her walk to see if she is also infected. I suspect she has had it for at least 2.5 days. Hope yours makes it. Thanks for the detailed info.

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