Chickens dying, rooster losing his balance...HELP!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by nzchick, May 9, 2011.

  1. nzchick

    nzchick Out Of The Brooder

    Hi all
    About 6 weeks ago when looking after my neighbours chickens, I noticed one of her younger hens (about 15mths old) was acting a bit strange and not "keeping up" with the others. I monitored her over the course of a week (up until then she had not let me catch her) and by that time she had slowed right down and didnt fight when I picked her up. I could feel that she had lost alot of weight but she had a full crop, although not impacted, and had been pecked a bit on her comb and wattles. I took her to the vet who suggested euthanasia because she was pretty lethargic and thin. About a week later I noticed my old ex battery hen (about 5 years old) was acting a bit slow and seemed to be sleeping alot. She was still keen to eat with the others and wasn't really withdrawing from the flock but just seemed old and slow. I thought this was because she was probably coming to the end of her life naturally and so decided to let things take their course, which they did about 7-8 days later, where I found her lying dead in the chicken run. At this stage I didnt connect the two deaths to one another.

    Not quite 2 weeks later, one of my wee pekin hens developed a bad limp and by the following morning she couldn't walk. She seemed to be listing to one side and the leg and wing were stretched out. She had lost comb and wattle colour and the skin on her face looked quite mottled, but still a full crop. I took her to the vet and again, we decided that she was very skinny, anaemic and withdrawn so best to be put to sleep. The vets analysis was that it was systemic and probably not something to be concerned about for the rest of the flock. I didn't mention the loss of the other chickens, as I still hadn't made any connections between the deaths.

    When I got home from the vet I buried the chicken and decided to check on my neighbours hens. There was a dead chicken in the henhouse. I assume she had died either the day before or through the night. Now things were starting to look a bit suspect.
    I consulted my chicken health handbook and thought some of the symptoms resembled E.Coli. I thought that this seemed possible as I live in Christchurch, New Zealand and we are post earthquake. I wondered if wild birds might be bringing in diseases? Best treatment for E.coli was warmth and protein.

    Less than 1 week later, I noticed another of my hens standing around with her head down and moving slowly. She is one of my big orpington's, and didn't feel like she had lost any weight. She had food in her crop, but she had quite a messy bottom. I took her into the house, put her in a cage on a heating pad and upped her protein. She stayed there for 3 days and picked up. I placed her back with the flock. Then I noticed my young rooster looking heavy eyed, so I brought him inside and did the same thing. After 2 days he seemed better so I put him back with the others. Within a few hours several of the hens had attacked him and he was cast on the ground, bleeding. Again I brought him in and he seemed to perk up. I then put him into a house that is inside the run but is not accessible by the others, but everyone can see each other. After a day or two I let him out and everything seemed fine. After observing him for a while I noticed that he was quite unstable on his legs and at times one or other gave out on him. Perhaps he had collapsed at the time of the attack and the girls went for him? I have been checking on him regularly and he is in with the flock, just a little unsteady. He gets a good hard peck every now and then and there is the odd hen that really goes him, but otherwise he is just getting on with things.
    Today as he rushed to get food, he tripped over and was cast on his back again for a few seconds before he managed to roll over and find his feet. I caught him without too much fuss and noticed that he had a couple of small raw patches on his face where it looks like he has been pecked. He is now back in the warming closet under my stairs with extra rations. He feels quite slim, so I dont think he has been getting to the food as well as he could be. His bottom is clean, but he pooed on me (yuck) and it was a foamy light brown colour.

    I do apologise for the terribly long story, but I thought it best to tell it right! If anyone has any thoughts on what I could be dealing with and how best to treat it, I would really appreciate it. So far, my neighbour has not lost any more birds and my flock seem to be ok too, even my orpington who still has a messy bottom but is otherwise good. NZ is going into winter, so most of my girls have stopped laying and have either just molted or are currently doing so. Poo in the run and house all seem normal with colour and consistency. My flock is fed layer pellets (self fed), wheat and free ranged most days. Because my hen house is on the other side of the fence of my neighbours hen house, we have never really observed biosecurity practises between the two properties. But I cant help but think that one of us may have carried something to the other on our shoes?

    All feedback/advice/ideas welcome:)
  2. KlaHaYa Gardens

    KlaHaYa Gardens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    Have you researched Marek's disease?

    Search Markek's on this site or google?
  3. Haych

    Haych Out Of The Brooder

    Unfortunately I cant help with your issues, but I can tell you I have a buff orpington who ALWAYS has a dirty bottom.

    hope this helps [​IMG] and good luck
  4. nzchick

    nzchick Out Of The Brooder

    Hi I dont think its Mareks, as there is an absence of scabs and not all of the deaths have been preceeded by lameness.
  5. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

    May 18, 2009
    If not Marek's, could they have gotten into some bad food? I had a problem with botulism with four of my chickens and lost all but one. The symptoms were similar - unsteady on feet, diarrhea/dirty bottom, very thin.
  6. nzchick

    nzchick Out Of The Brooder

    I guess its possible they ate something bad. Christchurch is 2 1/2 months post earthquake and for the first 3 of those we were camped out in our back yard, as were our neighbours:/. There is no doubt that there were some food scraps lying around after this and the chooks did have access to both properties for a while. Chook pellets were hard to come by for the first few weeks too, so we were feeding them what we could, however I was very mindful of the freshness of everything and they certainly didnt get any meat scraps (we are vegetarian). The reason I thought E.coli was because the city business district was in utter ruin and completely abandoned. And between the wildbirds and rodents, the spread of disease would be at its height. We are about 15 km from the city and up a hill, so I cant imagine rats getting to us from the city, but the sparrows certainly can and do.
    Has anyone out there ever dealt with E.Coli in their live poultry? I would like to know if I should rule this out as a possibility.
    I checked on the rooster under my stairs last night and his appetite seems to be a little diminished. Usually he would scoff what I put in front of him, but he only ate half the amount. He looked a bit heavy eyed, which concerns me:(. He is pooing normally however and I haven't noticed any blood in it. I have him in a small cat cage where he cant move around-should I move him to a bigger cage? Im concerned about his legs and if he were in a bigger area he might move about more, but maybe that would be good for strength?
    I thought I would try to make up the rickets recipe for him and see if that helps:)

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