Chickens dying by the minute - ish!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Laphan, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. Laphan

    Laphan New Egg

    Sep 16, 2010
    Hi All

    Hope you can advise me.

    About 3 years ago (Easter time) we purchased 4 x hybrid birds (2 brown/2 white) from a reputable supplier and then about 2 years ago (Easter time again) we took on 2 more hybrid chicks (brown) from a primary school that wanted shut.

    Everything hunky dorey, well fed and watered, really free range as had carte blanche on nearly 2 acres of private gardens and fields, all laid 1 perfectly good egg every day and then about 2-3 months ago something started to go wrong.

    One of the white chickens never seemed to be great from birth as it always had a bald patch on its chest and its feathers after moulting never really came back properly, but laid eggs, ate, drank and wandered without probs so just classed it as scabby and let it live its life.

    However, in this 2-3 month period chicken started to show a dirty/soiled backside all the time and then started to get lethargic. Went off laying, then started to go off food and then started to stop wanting to wander about. This went on for a week and then we found her 'puffed up' with feathers, closing eyes for a long time, head nestled into plumage/chest and not moving. Wheezing and when you picked her up clear liquid was just pouring out steadily from her. Had to put her down so did the deed.

    Other chickens seemed completely unaffected, but then a week later 2nd white chicken started to have the same symptoms but with added factor of red comb drooping to one side. Thought she might be stronger than the other one and pull through, but no went exactly the same way.

    Again, none of the chickens seemed to show any symptoms until last week when one of the original brown ones starting showing a constantly soiled backside, walking as though she'd got a broom up her backside (ie legs wedged further out than normal and waddling) and comb drooped onto head.

    Last night she 'puffed up' in the chicken coup and this morning we found her dead.

    Remaining 3 seem fine, but something is not right. Although the scabby white one always looked scabby the other two never had any prior illness.

    The food has been the same type and supplier since we got them. The only thing new was that we wormed them all about 2-3 months ago, thinking that the white scabby one wasn't getting better because we'd never wormed them before. The wormer we used was Verm-X.

    Surely this wouldn't kill chickens? But its the only thing I can think which has been introduced/changed since we've had them - could this be the culprit?

    Also over the last 8 months we started to use wood shavings (the pet shop kind) rather than straw in their chicken box. We don't have perches so they've always sleeped in the straw/chippings. Are the shavings a no-no when it comes to chickens?

    Thank you for any advice you can give.


  2. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Are they cedar shavings? If so, the fumes from cedar is toxic to chickens. You can get pine shavings at the coop/feed store.

    If not cedar, I'm not sure what's happening in your flock.
  3. HennyPenny2

    HennyPenny2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:I looked this up to see what others say about using cedar and found this "Cedar does not kill chickens. As a breeder of rare chickens, I use and have used cedar shavings for many years and have never had a problem. My free range birds roost in aromatic red cedar trees within the fenced property and although I have heard the above answer many times I have yet to see any empirical evidence that the oils released from cedar shaving does anything but make the chicken coop smell fresh and sweet." So I don't know as far as cedar shavings go. [​IMG]

    I am so sorry to hear about your hens dying like this and not knowing what it is. [​IMG] What is their poop like?
  4. ND

    ND Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2010
    This sounds like Coccidiosis, exactly. (a lot of people shorten it to 'cocci')

    It's a protozoa found in soil. ALL soil. Everywhere. Older birds usually develop a resistance to strains of it that they have been exposed to earlier in life, but if the environment conditions allow for a 'bloom' of it, or a new strain is tracked in accidentally, adult birds can certainly be affected and mortality can be high.

    ALL the things you've listed are 'classic' symptoms. Another one is bloody droppings...but this is not always present, especially in adult birds.
    It's also one of the later stage symptoms.

    Corid or Sulmet to treat, if it's not too late. Treat ALL, even if not showing symptoms right now.
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Here is a website with info on coccidiosis:

    One thing that concerns me is the respiratory component of the illness you have described, as well as the age of your chickens (kind of old for coccidiosis). Those two things are something you should think about as you look into coccidiosis.

    But, if you do suspect coccidiosis, treatment should begin immediately.

    I unfortunately have no experience with chicken respiratory diseases- only coccidiosis.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2010

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