Chickens dying, shaking. Whats goin on?

Meat Hunter

In the Brooder
8 Years
May 29, 2011
Hello all. I just made my introduction and I know the answer I seek is more than likely somewhere here on the forum. I apologize for asking, but I really do not have the time to seek it out now. Things are very VERY busy around here, as I am sure they are for you all as well, but I need help.

I have a group of 30 meat chickens. Over the past 2 weeks, I have lost 5. Symptoms? The don't stick with the rest, they are often lethargic, eyes closed, head down, won't get up and walk and just don't want to move. They are all approx 6 weeks of age. They have been on medicated feed from day one, clean water, and have introduced electolytes this week. Have ample room to roam with 2 heat lamps if needed. Concrete floor with hay spread out. A few of them I see looks as if they are shivering every now and then. Any ideas of what is going on? I do not wish to lose anymore.

Thanks. Will check in later. If you need other symptoms, or have any questions for me, please ask.

Are they panting? Is it hot? They could be too hot. If so, put ice in their drinking water, makes sure they have lots of shade, and you can freeze water bottles to give them to lean on. Also, you can fill those inexpensive cat litter pans with water as wading pools for them.

Do they free range? Plants like hemlock, dogbane, and jimson weed can cause similar symptoms if ingested.

Do they look puffed up? Have you noticed bloody poos? Coccidiosis can also cause these kinds of symptoms. If you believe it is Coccidiosis and they are on medicated feed, it may be a strain resistant to Amprolium and you would need to give them Sumlet to control the outbreak. Here is a video that shows how a chick with Coccidiosis behaves. It is educational and will probably help you determine if Coccidiosis is the issue you face, but it may be difficult to watch.
Anianna, thanks for that quick reply. That looks very similar to what's going on. Especially at the 30 sec mark on that video.

The solitaire chicken in that video that show's the chicken at different days displays a similar behavior as mine do when it lays down on its side with one leg extended. However, in those birds, they don't appear to be sick at all and was told that due to the fast growth of these birds, they will do that?

Where do I find this Sumlet stuff?

Also, in the comments section of that video, one person mentioned that if you keep a clean dry area, especially around the waterer, you will never have this problem. Well this year I decided to get those water dripper things, they look like those things you would see in a hamster cage, where they peck at it and they get their water, but it also wastes allot of water and makes for a fairly wet area around the waterer. Impossible to keep clean all the time. Are those water spigot things a bad idea? I thought they would be better than the traditional 5 gal water station where all the dust and junk lands in the water.
Sumlet should be available at your feed store, like Tractor Supply. Cocci is found in soil and is carried by infected birds that may not appear sick. Once they have survived initial infection, birds are immune to future infections, but they can still pass Cocci. I don't know what kind of facilities you have, but if they are exposed to soil, they can easily be exposed no matter how clean you keep the place. Damp bedding can increase the risk.

As for the waterers, I wouldn't use them with my chickens for the very reason you mentioned. We use them for our rabbits, but our rabbits are in hanging wire cages and the leaking water drips right down to the ground and doesn't keep the rabbits wet, so it's not so much an issue. Wet bedding can be detrimental for any animal, so I would not use drippy waterers anywhere you have animals in bedding.
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Well I picked up some Selmut, gave per instructions, cleaned the whole entire coop, washed it out, fresh straw down and dispatched 5 birds that were pretty pathetic looking. Hope that stuff helps.

ON edit, I didn't see you reposted. I reconfigured the layout of the coop. Like I said, it is a cement floor with a few cracks in it. I relocated the water bucket so any drips run down into the cracks and do not pool at all. Will be bringing my 5 gal water, the old one, in and use that instead and keep these other drippy things for outside use.
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You didn't mention what kind of meat birds? Are they Cornish X's? If so, are there combs turning purple? If so, they are having heart problems, which is very common for Cornish X's. I would butcher the ones, before they die on you. No sense wasting good chicken. At 5 wks they should be around 5-6lbs. If you have had them on medicated feed the whole time, I doubt it is coccidi. I would recommened using shavings instead of straw. It is more absorbent. I did watch the video, very informative but those birds were way over crowded and the waterer should be raised up to help keep it clean. Good luck.
Chicken are Cornish Rock Broilers. No purple combs. Once the floor was scrapped and washed down, the sick ones has very watery poop, light brown in color. No pine shavings here. Will have to look for them. If these ones make it to the 8 week mark with no more problems, I will just stick with the hay this run and clean the straw every other day. Only 18 chickens in a 12x14 foot pen.

Beside those drip waterers and those 5 gallon type with the tray in the bottom, what else is out there? I could have sworn at one time I seen something that looked like a small cup that fed off a large water barrel or something. I hate these hamster style ones, and don't like the 5 gallon ones as they always seem to get crap/dust/poop in them.

What other good meat bird is available. This is the only one our hatchery deals with. Something that will finish out fairly large.
Some BYCers use something called "chicken nipples" installed into a length of PVC pipe. I don't know if they are leaky or not, but they are designed differently than the kinds of nipples on hamster waterers. I just use the big kind with the tray on the bottom and rinse it out each day. I keep mine raised up, so it doesn't get so messy.
I know what you mean about the waterer with the tray, that's all I have and I have to clean it everyday. I just butchered my meat birds. I found this BYC page of a member here and what she has made maybe it will help. I don't know about leaking but I guess you could put don't a tray or something to catch the drips.

Here is another nipple stlye.

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