Chickens eating metal

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by griffac, Oct 16, 2008.

  1. griffac

    griffac Hatching

    Oct 16, 2008
    My chickens are about 7months. I thought they were healthy until very recently, when one was standing around listless, her crop full of liquid, no poop, no eggs for a couple of days. I thought perhaps she was eggbound. I'm new to this, but I felt something hard in her.

    I took her to a vet, and they took an x-ray. It turns out that her gizzard is full of metal: a piece of a hose clamp, a few metal bbs, some staples, etc. It looks like I'm going to have to put her down. She stands around, raising a foot, looking at me, barely eating.

    Out of curiosity, I had my other two chickens x-rayed. I know, it sounds crazy to x-ray perfectly healthy chickens. One was clean, her gizzard had some pebbles in it for chewing and that was it. The other was worse than the first. She had eaten a .22 shell, a plethora of small screws, a broken screw, a washer, some other things--but despite being on the thin side she eats and poops fine.

    The thing is, I had no idea this stuff was in my backyard. I have only lived here 1 year. The yard looked tidy when we moved in, and now it still does except I've happily let them dig up stuff and the weeds have come in.

    I feel awful. I can't eat their eggs any more because I'm afraid of heavy metals in them. One is about to die, the other is probably on her way, and the third will be left alone with no flock.

    The third, I should note, has not started to lay yet. Why isn't she going through the same? They have free choice food and water in two big feeders, one in the coop and one outside, though I see them pecking at the ground more often than at the feeder. I commonly feed them scraps or toss them one of my tomatoes to go after. They are on Honor Laying Ration crumbles.

    I don't know what to do. I think I have to put the black one down soon. The other, though she is acting the normal, I wonder if I should put her down now or wait until she is symptomatic. I can't eat the eggs. Should I even bother to think I can ever have chickens on this property again?

    I'm really freaked out about this. Please give some advice.

    Thank you,
  2. Chicabee19

    Chicabee19 Songster

    Aug 8, 2008
    So sorry to hear about this! We used to live on a property that had been used as a dump. Dug down 2 feet and came up with a huge assortment of glass and metal stuff.

    You may have to confine your chickens to no free-ranging at all. They can be just as happy in a nice sized run.

    If you dump a good load of sand in there, they probably would not be able to dig down far enough to get anything buried in the dirt underneath.
  3. PeeperKeeper

    PeeperKeeper Songster

    Yipes! What a thing to have happen. And it could happen to almost anyone! [​IMG]
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Oh, that really sucks for you. I'm sorry <hug>. The many surprises of a new property [​IMG]

    As others have said, you may be stuck building a run. If you check out the ground beforehand and it's clean down a foot or so (the junk may be all over your property or it may only be some place(s), can't tell unless you get out a shovel and do some digging) you could just fence them in there. If you can't find anywhere with 'clean' soil, you could replace the top foot or so, mix a bag or two of cement mix in with the top few inches of what remains and dampen it and let it harden (so the chickens can't dig into that soil) and then top it with a load of sand or sand/gravel mix, and then you should be fine.

    Best of luck,

  5. Wynette

    Wynette Crowing

    Sep 25, 2007
    Oh my goodness! Mine don't freerange, and I've noticed they've scratched up some metal debris in their run, but none of them has eaten my knowledge anyway. That seems odd. I would wonder if they are lacking something in their diets (maybe protein?)

    If you absolutely have to freerange due to not having an enclosure or something, it sounds like you ougth to invest in a magnetic roller for your property. I've seen them at Home Depot and Lowes, and you simply roll them across the ground - the magnet is a few inches above. I think that would be the best way to get rid of the metal bits that your birds are interested in; sounds like you'll have to roll once a week or so to be sure you're getting it all. I'm so sorry to hear this! [​IMG]
  6. andehens

    andehens Songster

    Aug 25, 2008
    Scenic Sierra Nevadas
    ohhhhhhh, thats really sad. I did't know that chickens would eat stuff like that so I'm glad you posted. Was your vet surprised?
  7. griffac

    griffac Hatching

    Oct 16, 2008

    Great idea with the cement mix. We may do something just like that. My husband and I are using this as an excuse to rent a dozer or somesuch. I think we will enjoy ourselves. We may be having kids running around the property eventually, so we'll be glad to get all that out. That, and there are a lot of river rocks around that make gardening difficult.
  8. griffac

    griffac Hatching

    Oct 16, 2008
    Quote:The vet was surprised, and especially to see it in two and not at all in the other. I don't think he gets chickens all that often, though.
  9. Thechickentrainer1999

    Thechickentrainer1999 Songster

    Jul 30, 2018
    North Carolina
    Is there a way they can do surgery for this type of stuff?

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