Chickens Not Gaining Weight

Discussion in 'Nutrition - Sponsored by Purina Poultry' started by Breakofday316, Apr 4, 2016.

  1. Breakofday316

    Breakofday316 Out Of The Brooder

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    My chickens seem to be unable to gain weight. When I lift them up their breast bone protrudes, no meat on either side. They are 4-9 months old. Many 8+ have died from something spreading in the flock or malnourishment. When they show symptoms of sickness they decrease their eating tremendously. I feed them a mixture: purina crumbles & pellets, organic scratch, meal worms, vit/mineral supplement, & grit. Water readily available. One bird had necropsy & ruled bird died of Pox. Is pox a slow deadly disease? & am I feeding my birds a sufficient diet?
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    A little more information will help us to help you and your flock.
    How old are your birds, what breed(s) are they and how long have you had them? Was the bird that was necropsied showing any external symptoms of pox? Are the birds that are dying now showing symptoms of pox? What symptoms *are* they showing?
     
  3. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    If these are layers then you will always be able to feel their breast bone so perhaps your expectation is too high.

    That said, the fact that you have had so many die indicates that there is clearly something amiss.
    Knowing the symptoms of the sick ones that died would help enormously. Were they all similar? Where in the world are you located? I'm wondering if it is spring or autumn and what is the weather like? How long has this been going on?
    Who did the necropsy... local vet or state lab?
    Answers to the above questions will help get a better idea of what is going on.
     
  4. Breakofday316

    Breakofday316 Out Of The Brooder

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    6-9 months old. They are many breeds. I got them as babies, 2 days old from feed store. Bird that had necropsy did not have external symptoms. Symptoms start out with listless, not very active. Appetite decreases. Poop changes to runny &/or bright green poop. Ruffled feathers. Drawing neck back into body, like cold. Sitting around a lot with both feet under body. No evidence of pox on outside.
     
  5. Breakofday316

    Breakofday316 Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes I agree there is something tremendously wrong & it's so frustrating Bc I can't figure it out & they just slowly decline! I'm in Texas, weather has been back & forth. Cold then hot then cold. Yes symptoms were very similar. But each did not have all symptoms just a few the others had. I will repost symptoms Bc it is long. Started when I got 4 month old hens from another persons flock Nov 2015. Everything went down hill & I haven't been able to cure it. I keep my coops highly clean & disinfect after ever coop cleaning. Coops are well ventilated & stay dry. Necropsy was sent to UT Austin ag department by local vet.
     
  6. Breakofday316

    Breakofday316 Out Of The Brooder

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  7. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Not sure what to make of that post mortem result. I assumed that a local vet who maybe wasn't familiar with chickens had carried it out but if it was done by the ag dept lab it should be right. I would have expected a lot more info to be included, like coccidian and maybe parasitic worm levels. Did you get a result for the second necropsy you sent off on 26th Feb?

    My gut feeling is that the fowl or wet pox was a secondary infection as a result of a compromised immune system and I think the underlying problem may well be something like Marek's. I believe the tests for Marek's are quite expensive so may not have been done with your necropsy. It would also explain why the birds are not thriving and gaining weight as Marek's causes wasting and it affects juvenile birds mostly under a year old. The fact that you started having problems after bringing new birds into the flock is another red light and autumn/winter seems to be the worst time of year for Marek's outbreaks. The respiratory symptoms may well be secondary infections too. Unfortunately, disinfecting the coop is not guaranteed to prevent Marek's. It is spread by dander dust which is pretty much impossible to totally eradicate from the land and coop. It can even be carried on your clothing skin, hair and shoes. If you decide to get any new birds, it would be best to make sure they have been vaccinated for Marek's at hatch and be very careful about biosecurity for the first few weeks.

    I do still wonder if your expectation is unrealistic regarding how plump a laying hen should feel though. I have seen a chart posted here on BYC showing the five levels of condition scoring. I will try to find it and link it to give you an idea but if you are expecting your hens to feel like a super market chicken with plump breasts then you are under a misapprehension.
    It might be helpful for you to weigh your chickens weekly and give them a good checking over at the same time, so that you can monitor any changes in weight or condition and hopefully spot a problem before the chickens system starts to shut down.

    I know how really heart breaking this is as I have had losses to Marek's. I hope you are over the worst and things start to settle down in your flock as they have with mine.
     
  8. Breakofday316

    Breakofday316 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for taking the time & for all that information. Can I buy the vaccines to give my birds for mareks? Weight wise I've just seen other people's laying hens & they look so healthy & plump. I desire mine to be happy plump hens too. If all this is mareks how long does it stay live? Does it die off when the weather gets hot? Why would feed stores not vaccinate them at the hatchery? I payed a good amount of money for these chickies & it makes me upset that they weren't given the normal vaccinations. Best place to order chicks for the future, once I can figure out what's going on with my current ones. Thanks
     
  9. Breakofday316

    Breakofday316 Out Of The Brooder

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    My hens are finally filling out. They are 4-5 months, not 6-9 months. They needed time to plump up! Things still are up and down but sending the next chicken off to another lab/different vet, this vet believes it is mareks. If that is true, there is no disinfectant to help spread the disease? I have friends & family members with chickens too, don't want to expose their chickens. Can I not vaccinate for mareks any ways? Or will it hurt them now that they've been exposed?
     
  10. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Pleased to hear your young birds are filling out a bit now.
    I'm not familiar enough with the Marek's vaccine to advise. If you do a search on Marek's you will find several extensive threads and there are people active on those that have bought vaccine and innoculated chicks well beyond the 24 hrs of hatch advisory period and some have vaccinated a second time a few weeks later. You might get better advice by going to those threads and asking questions about it.
    I had an outbreak of Marek's a couple of years ago. Since then I have had broody hens rear unvaccinated chicks within the flock and hardly had any problems with it in the new chicks. It almost seems like they build up resistance to it as they are exposed to it from hatch. I raised 28 chicks last year in the flock and only one showed symptoms but recovered and is now laying.

    Good luck and I hope like my outbreak, yours settles down and you have no further losses.

    Regards

    Barbara
     

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