Could this be parasites, and how to treat?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by robomb, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. robomb

    robomb Songster

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    Aug 15, 2011
    Northern Vermont
    I have 2 hens that seem to have lost weight. One is still laying and the other has stopped (she's about 18 months). The one who is laying was attacked by a dog in March, and nearly died (hunks of flesh were missing). I put her in the "chicken hospital" inside and she survived - so the fact that she is skinny is logical. She happens to be the one who is laying - RIR. Got a huge double-yolker from her yesterday. When I pulled the straw out of the coop this spring, I left it in the run, but after reading some stuff I realized how bad this is since they're probably eating their poo, and combined with a very rainy spring, I think they might have parasites. What do I do? We're going to have rain for the next week!!
     
  2. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Crowing

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    I always throw my coop cleanout into the run as part of my deep bedding in there...although I hate straw and instead using pine shavings with hay in the nest boxes. I have been doing this for two years without issue. It decomposes and adds carbon to the run to balance out the nitrogen in the droppings. Even if they were eating their own droppings, its not like they can give themselves parasites, since they would already have to have them for them to be in the poop...kind of like you can't give yourself a cold or hepatitis.

    What makes you think they have an abnormal parasite load? It is expected that all chickens will have parasites; it is essentially unavoidable since they live outside, eat insects and vegetation and peck in the dirt. With most of the common parasites, it's only an issue if the load becomes higher than what their immune system can control and they exhibit symptoms of illness.

    Weight loss is not uncommon in the summer, even in animals like cattle. Hotter temperatures increase thirst and decrease appetite.

    If you are really concerned that parasites are the issue, you can have a fecal exam done by the state lab or a vet.
     
  3. robomb

    robomb Songster

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    Northern Vermont
    Thanks - I never had a problem throwing out the deep bedding, but a couple things have me wondering about parasites. We had a neighborhood husky attack the flock 3 times in 4 months; I lost most of my hens. I had 1 survivor, Emme, and 1 injured, Sansa. I had to keep Sansa inside to let her recover, so her weight loss was expected. After she joined Emme, she began laying, but Emme hasn't laid since the April dog attack (she's less than 2). I recently added another 6 hens to the flock (they're separated, but adjacent), and the new girls who are just about 1 year old, are huge!! It makes my hens look anorexic. My 2 have not been eating much. These are the things that make me wonder about parasites:
    1 - decreased appetite
    2 - weight loss
    3 - not laying eggs
    4 - noticed that the run is full of mud and poop topped by very wet soggy and smelly old straw/hay.
    5 - noticed a boatload of small flies inside the coop; they look like they hatched from some type of worm-larvae
    * note - I have not seen any worms in poop, but I also haven't looked...
     
  4. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Crowing

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    Fly larvae are maggots. If there is a lot of poop the maggots will feed off of it until they turn to flies. Chickens will eat fly larvae (and ant larvae) and love them.

    That sogginess is the exact reason I do not use straw. It does not seem to help drainage and it stays soggy and mats up and I think makes the mud and muck worse. I don't have that problem with hay.

    What are you feeding them?

    Is Emme possibly molting?
     
  5. robomb

    robomb Songster

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    Northern Vermont
    They get local Poulin Farms Layer Pellets, but I give them homemade sprouts (from lentils, mung beans, wheat berries, etc), and watermelon, veggies, sometimes cooked grains like rice or couscous.

    I think I will try and get rid of the straw, although I'm not sure how lol. I've also used hay in the past, but I don't exactly recall why I switched. I've tried shavings too, but not really a fan.

    I will not worry about the flies and larvae etc. And I'll have to give Emme a closer look to see if she's molting. In your experience, once a hen has been attacked and lost a lot of back feathers (and flesh), will the feathers ever re-grow? My local feed store said they may not.

    This pic was about 4 weeks after the dog attack
    IMG_0409.JPG
     
  6. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Crowing

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    I think it depends on how much damage there is. I had a fox take a chunk out of one of my guineas backs around the same time as your attack and it doesn't seem to be growing back either, but feathers aren't like hair so it will be a while before you can see if they will come back. Good thing is that will give the skin plenty of time to heal. I can't zoom in but it does look like its very very deep...poor girl. The areas that are white might recover but unless she grows new skin and follicles over the rest I don't think it will get feathers. If you end up having any roosters you will definitely need a saddle to protect that.

    I've not used hay in the bottom of my coops. It isn't as absorbent and easy to stir up and cover poop between clean outs like shavings are. I do add leaves, grass clippings, and pine needles to the shavings and I only clean it out about twice a year and keep it about 4-8" deep depending on the coop. The only thing I don't like about shavings is that they can be messy and blow out into the yard and fall out when I open the door to go in.
     
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  7. robomb

    robomb Songster

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    Northern Vermont
    I do believe Emme is molting! She's my auracana, and her cheek tufts are dropping feathers as is her neck and a few on her back. Good time of year for molting-warm, sunny.
     

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