chickens dying one by one

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by sykochik, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. sykochik

    sykochik New Egg

    Nov 12, 2008
    Carrollton, GA
    I am fairly new to the chicken world, having moved to a place with a flock of 20-some chickens 6 months ago. This flock consists of birds of a variety of breeds and ages. They sleep inside a house at night and have free access to a large run (possibly an acre). About 1.5 - 2 months ago (approx when the chickens began molting) a rooster started looking very depressed. He got this hunched-up look, like his neck suddenly disappeared or shortened, and his comb got very floppy. He became progressively lethargic, moving around slowly, and he eventually developed a loud rattling noise. He died after 2-3 weeks of onset of symptoms. Then the same thing happened to another rooster, which died a couple of weeks ago, and a hen developed the same symptoms. This morning, I found that hen dead and noticed that another hen was hunched up and lethargic. This seems to be happening in the older birds in the flock, but I'm worried about the rest and wonder 1) what the heck is going on?! 2) what I might be able to do for the sick ones, and 3) protect the rest of the flock.

    Of note, almost 3 months ago, we bought 7 young birds from a local breeder: 4 chicks aged 3-5 weeks old, 2 pullets, and a young roo. These birds were "isolated" in old rabbit cages inside the chicken yard. The older ones were integrated after a few weeks and the younger ones a few weeks after that. There had been health issues in the chicks. One died 2 days after we got it. It quickly developed balance problems and then stopped moving. Two others had eye issues. After terramycin treatment, one chick had a complete recovery and the other one had a partial recovery (one eye normal and one that is cloudy and bulges somewhat from the socket). I don't know what exactly these problems were about either. Anyway, the onset of problems in the older flock does seem to coincide with the arrival of the new birds, who were admittedly not adequately quarantined prior to integration. However, I still don't know what exactly is currently going on in my flock or what to do about it, if there's anything that can be done.

    I'd appreciate any help the BYC community can provide.
  2. Pumpkinpup

    Pumpkinpup Poultry Princess

    Jul 16, 2008
    North-West Georgia
    You could possibly have a number of different things. Cocci, CRD, could be compounded by parasitic migration into tissues as well, who knows. I am so sorry to hear this. Sounds like you need to treat the whole flock with broad spectrum antibiotics to me. Maybe someone else will chime in here and give you more possibilities. Good luck to you.
  3. s6bee

    s6bee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    I was thinking antibiotics as well for everyone! Have you been able to handle the chickens at all? Can you tell if they have mites? Do you worm them? These are also things you may want to consider, but do one type of treatment at a time.
  4. chickenpiedpiper

    chickenpiedpiper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2008
    New Durham NH
    I know that I am hard nosed about this, and I irritate many people. However. You have a significant investment in time and emotional energy in these animals, that is evident in your detailed analysis of the problem. You know they are sick. Call a vet.

    He/She will not have to see the whole flock, just one who is exhibiting symptoms, they may have to do a few cultures, and you will have to call around to find a vet that sees poultry. But contrary to popular belief, it is no more expensive than if you took your cat or dog in. Birds hide thier illnesses. If the flock knows they are sick, they go to the bottom of the pecking order, and may even become lunch, so I would hide it too! You have some thing nasty in your flock, sounds pretty virulent, and is not going to go away as long as there is another bird to infect and carry the problem. Broad spectrum may work, or it may make the pathogen stronger! Besides, the amount you would have to spend on broad spectrum and medicated fed for that many birds, for 2-3 weeks that would be needed, would equal a vet visit anyways....

    Call a vet, get the right stuff, cure the problem. Also, that way you will know who to call if something awful ever happens (dog, cat, or wild critter) and you need emergency help.

    Also, as the nights cool, make sure your birds have a heat source, if the have to use energy to keep warm, and they are sick, they will start dropping like flies in a frost!

    Good Luck!!
  5. sykochik

    sykochik New Egg

    Nov 12, 2008
    Carrollton, GA
    Thanks for the replies - this is my first posting to this forum.

    I think we checked for mites on the first dead chicken and didn't notice any. I'll check for them for sure on the new sickie, though. Also, I do not think the chickens have been wormed.
  6. BayCityBabe

    BayCityBabe Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2008
    If you don't have the budget set aside for a vet visit, please consider getting a necropsy. I have read that extension offices can stear you in the right direction & the cost is often very low.
    Wishing you the best. [​IMG]
  7. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    I second the post by chickenpiedpiper! Don't waste your time floundering around and trying to figure it out. Take the one all hunched up to the vet. I have a little cockeral right now who came from a flock where some had eye problems, some had what appeared to be colds, etc. This little guy had a very puffy, swollen eye and I tried terrimycin eye ointment, washing it with human eye wash containing boric acid, but he just wasn't getting better so I finally broke down and took him to the vet. (Exotic vet - treats most anything out of the ordinary) She put him on 3 kinds of eye medication and baytril. I swear by baytril but you have to get it through a vet. His eye opened and the gook that was in it went away but, then, his eyeball began to protrude quite horribly with a cloudy appearance like yours. The vet said to continue the baytril for a month...that it was either a tumor causing it to bulge or an absess. It's been about 5 days now and the bulging seems to have diminished quite a bit! Sorry this is so long but I thought there were a lot similarities between your situation and mine so just telling you what I did and what's happening. Hope it helps some. (Never did find out exactly what was wrong with the others but one of the ones with an eye problem died and the others seem to have improved).
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2008
    AshleyMarie17 likes this.
  8. Wolf Creek Farms

    Wolf Creek Farms Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 22, 2008
    Northwest Alabama
    I would also recommend seeing the vet. Good Luck
  9. Quote:I am going to agree. This can be a very informative thing. Especially if you plan on replaceing the birds. I would worm them right away. It is low cost and the birds tolerate it pretty well. Use Wazzin only do not mess with the ivermectin stuff just yet. If they do not pick up then you need to look at other avenues. Using antibiotics without really knowing what is ailing your birds can destroy the flock in the long run. Using medication that are "off label" meaning they are not recommended for poultry, but people use these readily is tricky without knowing what ails your birds. I would follow the rules in this index and please report back to us when you have all the information it askes for. You can find these on the site. It is designed so the forum can help you help yourself.
  10. sykochik

    sykochik New Egg

    Nov 12, 2008
    Carrollton, GA
    Wow, lots to think about and discuss with my housemates!

    Thanks, birdlover, for all the eye problem info! We absolutely adore, Dottie (BLRWyandotte), who has the eye problem. She has been having a rough time being integrated into the flock, since she spent a few weeks in the house, while we treated her with terramycin eye ointment. She is so happy to see us whenever we come around. She flies up onto us or up onto the backs of our goats, seeking safety from the other chickens, who keep picking on her. The goats simply don't know what to make of this and look up at us quizzically when Dottie hops up on them. Anyway, it's been a few weeks since we gave up on the eye treatments, but maybe there is more that could be done. I'll check out my options.

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